Christoph Ulrich put in a strong qualifying performance to take a double pole position in Am ahead of the penultimate rounds of the 2021 Fanatec GT2 European Series at Spa-Francorchamps tomorrow (25 July).
Ulrich’s form in the Sportec Motorsport KTM X-Bow leaves the current Am class championship leader in the best possible position to extend – and possibly even seize – the inaugural Fanatec GT2 European Series Am crown in his category come the end of the weekend in Belgium.
Reigning Pro-Am class leaders, Mark Patterson and Anders Fjordback, won’t be able to aim for the same target, however, after damage sustained in free practice earlier this morning put them out of the day’s running.
High Class Racing will aim to fix the #33 Audi R8 LMS GT2 overnight at the circuit, but it remains to be seen if the four-time race winners will make the start.
Their closest rivals were ready to take full advantage of their misfortune, with the #81 PK Carsport Audi of Peter Guelinckx taking Pro-Am pole in Q1 to boost their hopes of overhauling a 24-point deficit in the standings, should the #33 fail to make either race.
For Q2, however, it was the True Racing KTM of Stefan Rosina that took the top spot by just 0.253, a second pole in successive events for the #16 after a similar success in Misano.
Q1: Ulrich and Guelinckx score top spot as championship pendulum swings
The rain that had affected much of the day in the Ardennes Forest thankfully cleared in time for qualifying to take place on a dry circuit on Saturday afternoon and Christoph Ulrich took full advantage of the optimum conditions.
He stamped his authority on the session early on, his first flying lap abord the Sportec Motorsport #7 KTM X-Bow earning him the top spot over Leonardo Gorini’s #911 LP Racing Porsche 911 RS and Peter Guelinckx in the #81 Audi.
While Guelinckx would then improve to second – and the fastest of the Pro-Am pairings – he could do nothing about Ulrich’s final flying lap, which put him an impressive 1.9 seconds clear of the chasing pack.
Gorini was third fastest, even after having a lap deleted for track limits. Ulrich’s closest title rival Kris Rosenberger put the #24 Reiter Engineering KTM X-Bow he shares with Hans-Joachim Stuck fourth on the grid, ahead of the sister car of newcomer Michael Bleekemolen.
Jaromir Jirik will start the first race from sixth in Target Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan, a winner last time out in Italy, with Sehdi Sarmini alongside in seventh aboard the #16 True Racing KTM X-Bow.
Aurelijus Rusteika was eighth in the #5 Speed Factory Racing Porsche 911, just ahead of Stephane Ratel in LP Racing’s #88 Audi. Hubert Trunkenpolz rounded out the top 10 in the other True Racing KTM X-Bow.
Q2: Rosina fends off KTM rival Kox for second successive pole
Q2 proved to be a much closer contest from start to finish. Although Michael Vergers was the first to head the timing screens, his status proved temporary when Rosina’s KTM knocked the Speed Factory Racing Porsche off the top spot.
There Rosina would remain, despite the best efforts of his rivals around the 4.3-mile circuit. Ulrich once again appeared as one of the top contenders, running as high as second fastest before settling for fourth overall and retaining the Am class pole, putting the Swiss racer in the best possible position to seal the Am crown on Sunday.
A late session charge from Peter Kox looked to be the most threatening, the Reiter Engineering KTM coming to within 0.253 seconds of Rosina and ahead of Vergers. Bert Longin, now in charge of the #81 PK Carsport Audi, also looked in contention, clocking in as high as P3 before the lap time was deleted due to exceeding track limits.
Hans Joachim Stuck, currently second in the Am standings, clocked in sixth fastest in the Reiter Engineering KTM.
Luca Pirri will start seventh in the LP Racing Audi ahead of Gorini in the team’s sister Porsche 911. Mauro Casadei completed the top 10 in the Target Racing Lamborghini Huracan.
Watch a crucial chapter in the title fight play out on the GTWorld YouTube channel!
Fans can watch live coverage of both races from Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday (25 July) on the GTWorld YouTube channel.
Lights out is scheduled for 09:00 and 16:30 (both CEST) respectively, in what could prove to be a decisive chapter in the race for both crowns.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group