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GRT Scores Dubai Pole After WRT Lap Deleted

Barnes tops TCE session with record-breaking lap

Mirko Bortolotti snatched Pole Position for tomorrow’s 24 Hours of Dubai in Grasser Racing’s #964 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, with a 2:07.871 time, after Chris Mies’ initial pole-winning lap in the #777 WRT Audi was deleted following the conclusion of the session.

Mies’ time, which was a record-breaking lap of the circuit for GT3 machinery set on his final flying lap, was deemed invalid as it was set during a yellow flag period at the very end of the session for a stranded car at pit-in which eventually caused a red flag that brought the session to an early end.

The German explained that WRT deserved the pole as he wasn’t shown any yellow flags while on the lap:

“You always find a couple of tenths over the winter, and to be honest the car was perfect to drive, it’s been getting better all weekend,” Mies explained immediately after the session. “Before that lap I had traffic, and I pushed hard, I knew that was the lap. I didn’t see any yellow flags, so it’s quite clear that we deserved the pole. I saw the marshals and they weren’t waving anything.”

Nevertheless the organisers still deleted the lap, and Bortolotti’s lap stood as the pole-winner, handing Lamborghini its second Dubai 24 pole while the WRT Audi was demoted to fourth on the grid.

“Im really really happy, its a fun race to be part of, I hope we’ll have better luck to last year when we got taken out of the race,” Bortolotti said. “Pole is a good birthday present for me. We are well prepared and looking forward to the race.”

Behind, the top three was completed by two Black Falcon Mercedes, the #3 of Jeroen Bleekemolen, the Dutchman’s lap just 0.035 off pole, and the #2 AMG GT3 of Yelmer Buurman, who was two tenths off. The BWT Mucke Motorsport Audi will line-up fifth behind the aforementioned WRT Audi in fourth.

GP-Extreme meanwhile had a successful run in qualifying to sixth overall, Nicky Pastorelli setting a 1:57.255 in the team’s #28 Renault R.S.01, consequently  setting the pole time for the A6 Am class too. Second and third in Am will start right behind in seventh and eighth, the #963 Grasser Lamborghini leading the #911 Herberth Porsche, back running after its earlier oil leak.

Further down the order in GT Qualifying, Liepert Motorsport took pole in SPX, with ByKolles LMP1 driver Oliver Webb setting the team’s best time, good enough for 24th overall in its Huracan Super Trofeo.

And lastly, in the GT session, GT4 pole was taken by Phoenix Racing with its #248 Audi R8 LMS GT4, with a time just 12 seconds off the pole time, down in 49th place. The Besagroup Mercedes will line-up second with the Team RACE Scout/Winward/HTP Mercedes third.

Before the GT runners headed out for qualifying, the TCE teams and drivers fought for the the spaces towards the back of the grid.

The fastest time from the first session was a 2:07.871 set by Jon Barnes in the #229 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55, in the SP3 class. His best time was a special one, the fastest ever lap around the Dubai Autodrome for an SP3 Ginetta G55.

The British GT regular, who is racing the G55 for the first time this weekend, said he loved the challenge.

“That’s why we come and do this, easy races are not much fun. I’d not driven the circuit, or the Ginetta, but it’s been fun, it’s a great car, and the circuit is brilliant, I love it and I’m really happy with the time,” Barnes said. “The circuit looks lifeless on TV, but there’s some great corners, lots of undulations.”

Second and third spots in the session were also taken by SP3 G55s, Bradley Liebenberg putting the #178 CWS Ginetta second with a 2:08.05. His final time was set late in the session, but it wasn’t enough to leapfrog Barnes.

The same could be said for Will Moore in the Optimum Ginetta, which ended up third, after he too, set a late improvement of 2:08.697.

The fastest non SP3 car was the TCR Pole-sitting AC Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR, Vincent Radermacker reeling off a 2:09.003 to put the team over half a second clear of the other teams in the class.

“It was a very very good session, the car is good and it keeps improving, I feel really comfortable in the car and know the car very well,” Radermacker said.

Modena Motorsports ended up second in TCR, with WEC regular Mathias Beche setting a 2:09.657 ahead of the Liquid Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen which completed the top three with a 2:10.116 from Jean Karl Vernay.

Tomorrow’s 24 Hours of Dubai is set to get underway at 14:00 local time.