Reno Racing’s Jens Reno Moller topped his third Blancpain GT Sports Club qualifying session of the season at Circuit Paul Ricard and will lead the pack away for race one on Sunday. In Q2, Kessel Racing’s Murod Sultanov flew to a maiden pole position following a superb final attempt.
In the Titanium Cup, HP Racing International’s Coach McKansy topped the timings in both qualifying runs, as he continued to improve on board the 2019-spec Lamborghini Huracan GT3, which he is driving for the first time this weekend.
AF Corse’s Louis Philippe Soenen took a double pole position in the Iron Cup, his first ever in the series, with his time in Q2 over a second quicker than his nearest rival and class leader Stephen Earle.
For the first 15-minute qualifying session at the French Grand Prix venue, BMS Scuderia Italia’s Luigi Lucchini put his #7 Ferrari 458 GT3 quickest after the first few runs, but championship leader Moller soon affirmed his place at the top of the timings with just over half the session to go.
The Danish touring car convert remained on top throughout the remainder of Q1, despite other drivers behind posting faster sector times. Lucchini did improve late on but it wasn’t enough, seeing Moller claim his third consecutive Blancpain GT Sports Club pole.
Behind, Lucchini held onto second place, ahead of 2016 champion Michael Broniszewski, who had looked like the favourite for pole position heading into qualifying but was unable to match his lap time from practice.
His Kessel Racing team-mate Sultanov was fourth fastest, as the Russian continued to improve at the 5.842 km circuit. Behind him was the first StileF Squadra Corse Ferrari of Pavel Strukov, sharing row three on the race one grid with McKansy.
In seventh was series debutant Pete Mitchell, who will line-up directly behind his StileF team-mate in race one tomorrow. Another newcomer, Denis Remenyako, was eighth quickest and the lead Mercedes AMG GT3 for Russian outfit Capital Racing Team.
AF Corse’s Ken Abe made the top-10 for the first time in only his second Blancpain GT Sports Club weekend, lining up ninth for Sunday’s first race, ahead of HB Racing’s Robert Zwinger in the #888 Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
In the second qualifying session, it looked like another pole was heading Moller’s way, after going half-a-second quicker than he had in Q1. The #11 Honda NSX GT3 Evo driver was on top right until the final moment, as Sultanov spoiled the Dane’s party by 0.023 seconds.
The Russian was third in last year’s Main Race here on his debut and continued to show that he will be right in the title hunt this year with a storming lap.
Moller remained in second, with those behind constantly swapping places. Zwinger was the eventual winner of the battle for third on his maiden appearance, nipping ahead of McKansy, who had been second for much of the session.
Broniszewski was fifth, this time making it count on only his third lap despite many around completing their best laps later in the session. The #1 Ferrari 488 GT3 driver headed Lucchini, who also struggled to improve in the latter stages.
Seventh was Remenyako, with ERC Sport’s Lee Mowle making it an all-Mercedes fourth row, after recovering from a difficult first qualifying session. Rinaldi Racing’s Vadim Kogay was ninth quickest in the #333 Ferrari 488 GT3, ahead of AF Corse’s Mario Cordoni who was unable to reach his full potential in either session.
The Blancpain GT Sports Club will return on Sunday for both races, which will be streamed live on our Facebook page, website and YouTube channel.