The Vita4One Racing BMW pair of Yelmer Buurman (NLD) and Michael Bartels (DEU) secured pole position for this evening’s Qualifying Race in a hard-fought Qualifying session at the Slovakia Ring.
Second was the German duo Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock in the No.38 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG No.38.
Third was the second Vita4One BMW of Mathias Lauda and Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof, the pace-setters during yesterday’s Free Practice.
Buurman produced a stunning lap of 2:00.684, the first driver to dip into the two minute bracket this weekend, to land pole. Basseng, at the wheel of the Mercedes for the Q3 shootout, was less than four hundredths of a second behind with a best time of 2:00.723.
The contest pitted the two leading championship contenders together in a Q3 shootout. ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport currently lead the teams' standings with 156 points to Vita4One Racing's 112 while Bartels and Buurman (88) have a five point lead over Basseng and Winkelhock in the drivers' table.
Vita4One team manager Bartels was delighted with the overall team effort. “Yelmer did an incredibly fast lap and now we will focus on maximum points for today’s Qualifying Race,” he said.
“It is nice to have Niki (Mayr-Melnhof) and Mathias (Lauda) up there as well so we are in good shape. It is our best Qualifying so far for the team so we are pleased. We also have our closest challenger for the title right up there so the race is going to tight for sure.
“Our Qualifying and Race pace will be a bit different of course because we have all the different conditions, the race is quite late.
“There’s going to be some changes with the cars but only small alterations because we can see the car is performing well. We’ll be factoring in things like a full tank of fuel and different asphalt temperatures into the set up.
“I think the Qualifying Race may see a difference in performance across all the brands because you can see cooler conditions are better for some cars, hotter seems to be good for us.”
Basseng, his counterpart at ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, said a change of strategy had proved fruitful in Qualifying.
“Qualifying was a great effort for the team, we changed tactics for the weekend. I decided to work more for the Qualifying because you can’t hope every time for good race performance and luck,” he said.
“I set our Qualifying lap time on my second lap, this is when the Mercedes does its best when the tyres are in. I felt it was quite good, I had minus numbers on the dashboard for my sector times and I was thinking I didn’t want to throw it away on the last corner so I didn’t push as hard and I lost out on pole by four hundredths of a seconds. Still I’m really happy with it.
“I think it’s going to be a really nice race this evening, because we have the best teams to race with, mirror to mirror, and the quickest pit stop guys really fighting against each other.”
The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audis were fourth and fifth – Stephane Ortelli (MON) and Laurens Vanthoor (BEL) in the No.32 R8 LMS ultra just ahead of Frank Stippler (DEU) and Oliver Jarvis (GBR) in the No.33 car.
Sixth was Milos Pavlovic (SRB) and Andreas Zuber (AUT) in the Sunred Ford GT No.10.
Qualifying for Albert von Thurn und Taxis in the Reiter Lamborghini No.24 came to an abrupt and shuddering halt in Q1. The car left the circuit at high speed at the exit to Turn 2 on his first flying lap.
The incident brought out the red flag as the Lamborghini demolished the tyre barrier. The severe damage to the car meant the end of the session for von Thurn und Taxis and Slovakia’s Stefan Rosina.
Peter Kox (NLD) and Darryl O’Young (CHN) in the second Lamborghini snuck into Q3 in eighth and will start the Qualifying Race from seventh.
Despite a starting position down the order, Gregoire Demoustier (FRA), who partners Alvaro Parente (PRT) in the No.2 Hexis McLaren, was upbeat. “We finished P9, but the race is long and I still think we can score a podium if we push and make no mistakes,” he said.
The No.1 McLaren of Fred Makowiecki (FRA) and Stef Dusseldorp (NLD) will start 12th.
Filip Salaquarda (CZE) and Toni Vilander in the No.3 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia, the Qualifying Race winners at the previous visit of the championship to Slovakia in June, will start a disappointing 10th, one place ahead of stable mates Enzo Ide (BEL) and Francesco Castellacci (ITA).
Source: SRO Motorsports Group