Barwell Motorsport’ Jon Minshaw and his #33 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 resisted race-long pressure from Autovitesse Garage R.Affolter’s Cédric Leimer driving the same car model to win Saturday’s Blancpain GT Sports Club Qualifying Race at Silverstone for a mere 0.598s. In the Iron Cup class, points leader Stephen Earle recovered from a low starting position in the #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 to pip title rival Klaus Dieter Frers by a similarly close margin.
Following Friday’s drenched free practice and wet-to-dry Qualifying at the Home of British Motor Racing, which welcomes SRO Motorsports Group’s Bronze-only drivers series for the very first time, the 21 Blancpain GT Sports Club runners and riders lined up on a dry grid though temperatures remained chilly and skies overcast over the Northamptonshire venue.
Pole sitter Jon Minshaw had a good launch at the rolling start and kept the lead from Leimer into Copse Corner. While the British GT star had enjoyed a healthy gap in Friday’s Qualifying, Minshaw had this time to fend off extreme pressure from the charging #963 Autovitesse Garage R.Affolter Huracan. Leimer hounded his British rival, who was competing in his maiden Blancpain GT Sports Club event at the weekend, over the entire duration of the 25-minute contest but he never found a way past, despite a last-lap attempt at Stowe Corner.
Behind the battling leaders, there was also a great scrap for the third step of the podium between Nicolas Vandierendonck’s #63 Shipex by Ombra Racing-entered Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and Karim Ojjeh on the #2 Boutsen Ginion BMW M6 GT3. The former Le Mans 24 Hours class winner slipstreamed past last year’s Blancpain GT Sports Cup Overall runner-up to move up into the top three.
Vandierendonck eventually took the chequered flag in fourth, ahead of Anthony Pons in the #72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3. Black Falcon’s Oliver Morley recovered from an early spin to claim sixth in the #16 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
The Iron Cup class also saw a thrilling duel between title rivals Stephen Earle and Klaus Dieter Frers, who had claimed pole in the category catering to pilots aged 60 and over. Having crashed out of Qualifying on Friday afternoon, Earle had to launch his Saturday efforts from the back of the grid. The US driver gradually picked up positions as the race unfolded and overtook Frers’ #3 Artega Rennsport-entered Ferrari 488 GT3 in the closing stages, reaching the Overall top 10 on the same occasion. Louis-Philippe Soenen completed the Iron Cup podium positions in the #50 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3.
Jon Minshaw’s Qualifying Race win has earned him pole position for this afternoon’s 40-minute Main Race. Fellow front-row starter Cédric Leimer will seek to go one better, with the Autovitesse Garage R.Affolter ace also looking to maintain his perfect podium record so far this year. Stephen Earle and Klaus Dieter Frers are poised to resume their Iron Cup mano a mano, though Louis-Philippe Soenen remains a genuine contender as well.
The Blancpain GT Sports Club Main Race starts at 17:20, Silverstone time. It will be broadcast live on Motorsport.tv and streamed live on our official website and Facebook page.
2017 Blancpain GT Sports Club - Silverstone Qualifying Race Results