A dramatic qualifying for the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup has left many top teams at the tail-end of the field. This is the latest hurdle in a challenging weekend for the teams and drivers, at a Silverstone Circuit with a substantial loss of grip relative to last year’s event.
We caught up with the paddock to see the levels of optimism up and down the grid ahead of the three-hour race.
After their shock victory at Monza, Dinamic Motorsport were rather swiftly brought back to earth after not being able to set a flying lap in-between the red flags in the first qualification session, leaving the #54 Porsche (featured) 45th on the 47-car grid.
Andrea Rizzoli said: “We are in good company [at the back], with a lot of other Pro cars that didn’t get a first lap time. It was a strange decision not to restart the session after the second red flag, because there was enough time – I think. Two minutes and 18 seconds. We could have got another lap, but the session was finished, so there are a lot of people angry about this decision.
“But anyway, it’s like this. We will see in the race, but anything could happen, as we see in Monza.”
When asked about the team’s spirits following Monza, having been in the spotlight after the victory and even making the poster for Spa, Rizzoli commented: “Until two hours ago, it was wonderful! Right now, it’s a nightmare, but the race is very long. Last year not much happened because it was fully green flag racing all the way. I hope today it will not be like this, otherwise the gap will be too much, but we will try our best for sure.”
At the opposite end of the grid order, the #63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini has pole position for the second race in a row. Mirko Bortolotti, who achieved the car’s best lap in qualifying during the disrupted first session, said that grip levels were a big factor at Silverstone this weekend:
“Tyre degradation is a big point this weekend; definitely a bigger point than last year. It might sound stupid, but the track has degraded from last year! We were three seconds faster per lap, and there was so much grip, but now that grip is gone. [Note: He is quite right; last year’s pole position average lap time was a 1:56.962, relative to this year’s 1:59.690]
“The tyres are having a hard time, and that’s why we basically had one lap quali this morning. That is my strong point – something I really love – so it was an advantage. For the race it’s going to be crucial to keep the tyre alive. We’ve tested a lot on used tyres, so we need to make sure we make the right calls to be strong on both the performance and consistency side.”
Meanwhile, teammate Christian Engelhart said: “I expect an exciting race. It’s not going to be the easiest hour in the car, because we do have much less grip than last year. This morning we had perfect conditions, there was no way we could have gone any quicker. This will make the race even more challenging.
“In qualifying, we’re only able to do one lap before the tyres are finished, and so it was a credit to the team that – on all three occasions – they put us in a really good spot on the track. It was a big relief to see that Mirko got a time in during session one, and also a big relief for me coming through turn one without being outside the track limits, and not seeing a car coming out of the pitlane – big relief!”
The green flag waves at Silverstone at 15:00 local time.
Featured image courtesy of Blancpain GT