After the first Qualifying session was prolonged by a Red Flag delay at Monza for the GT Open runners, it was Rob Bell who claimed pole position the first race of the weekend this afternoon in the Balfe Motorsport McLaren.
Bell looked fast throughout the 30 minute session in the #22 Balfe 650S GT3, and set the pace for much of the early going. However, Marco Mapelli began to set strong times in the #63 Imperale Lamborghini Huracan, and leaped to the top of the timing sheets with a 1:46.866 – some three tenths clear of Bell.
Mapelli’s time went unbeaten for several minutes, before the red flags waved due to a heavy head-on impact with the Armco for Alex Moiseev (#48 Kaspersky Ferrari) at the exit of Lesmo 2. Fortunately, Moiseev walked away from the crash, but the session was paused for over ten minutes as the marshals cleared the wreckage.
Once the green flags waved again, Bell improved to a 1:46.830, and proceeded to chip away at this time for the remainder of the session. The British driver improved to a 1:46.380, taking pole by four tenths of a second.
Bell will be joined on the front row by Craig Dolby in the PRO class #39 Wessex Vehicles Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX. After a fairly innocuous first 20 minutes of the session, Dolby began to set purple sectors, eventually setting a time of 1:46.780 to secure second. He will share the Gallardo with newly-crowned British GT champion Seb Morris.
Marco Mapelli (Imperale Lamborghini #63) failed to improve his 1:46.866 lap time. The time was good enough for third on the grid, alongside Duncan Tappy in the #24 Garage 59 McLaren. As well as fourth overall, Tappy will be starting second in PRO-AM behind Bell.
Victor Bouveng (#65 Teo Martin BMW) and Vito Postiglione (#23 Imperale Lamborghini) will round out the top half dozen on the grid, while António Coimbra (#99 Sports & You Mercedes) will be the first of the AM class entries on the grid in 18th.
The first race of the weekend for the International GT Open will begin at 16:15 local time (15:15 BST).
Photo courtesy of GT Open