Mirko Bortolotti collected his second Blancpain Endurance Series pole of the season in damp conditions at the Nurburgring. Back on form after a difficult Spa for Lamborghini, the Italian pumped in a time of 1:54.5s to deny Alex Buncombe’s RJN Nissan GT-R top spot and give the Grasser Racing outfit a strong chance of adding their second win of the season.
A season’s best third was the sister Nissan of Craig Dolby, running under the Always Evolving Motorsport banner for the first time this weekend. Dolby’s team-mate Martin Plowman – who is carrying a tribute to the late Justin Wilson on his helmet – topped Q2 with a new-tyre run before Dolby improved again in Q3, and was duly elated to be starting the race from row two.
“We’ve never been up this far before, we’ve always had a very good car in the race, but this year we’ve started outside the top thirty in most of the Endurance races and had to work our way up in the first or second stint, so it’s going to be unfamiliar territory to start; now we just need to work on staying there and enjoy the last race of the year,” said the Briton. “Maybe the perfect time would have been to go later, but at the same time it was still drizzling, the track was still very green in a few places – it shocked me a little bit because I didn’t realise we could gain that much time!”
More late improvements from Alvaro Parente’s Von Ryan McLaren and Yelmer Buurman’s Black Falcon Mercedes deposed Andy Soucek’s M-Sport Bentley to sixth, a remarkable effort nonetheless considering his time was set in Q1 when track conditions were not at their best.
“First of all I got a free lap which makes a big difference and then when the rain came it was already my last sector, it was very light, just drizzling, and the grip was still there, so happy days,” said the Soucek. “I knew in Q3 people would improve and I’m sure we could have been fighting for it but unfortunately Buhk had traffic in his last sector when he was up three tenths. But sixth is not a bad place to start the race, we know our car is good in race conditions and we have three good drivers, so all we have to do is stay out of trouble and we can finally score a good result this year.”
Nissan’s excellent qualifying was continued in Pro-Am as Gaetan Paletou collected pole and an impressive eighth overall, narrowly ahead of Domink Schwager’s Black Pearl Ferrari. Meanwhile, Michael Meadows was delighted to qualify fourth in class and 16th overall in the Leonard Motorsport Aston Martin he shared with team-owner Stuart Leonard and Paul Wilson, who topped Q1.
“Generally this year we’ve qualified better than we raced, but the car was pretty good, I don’t think we had much more in it,” said the two-time Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion. “We took a second set of tyres to see if we could improve, but only by a couple of tenths and we were probably better saving our tyres for the race to be honest. But it’s good to be top Aston, Stefan Mucke is in the Motorbase car this weekend so for me it’s a good personal benchmark to see how we’re progressing.”
Elsewhere, Alexander Mattschull was quickest in the Am Cup at the wheel of the no. 34 Car Collection Mercedes.