The two qualifying sessions of the fourth event of the inaugural season of the GT4 South European Series took place today at Autódromo Internacional do Algarve.
Without dashing the expectations, the strong field battled hard with Mariano Pires and César Machado sharing the pole-positions for this weekend’s races.
Saturday’s race qualifying session saw a fierce battle between Mariano Pires, Miguel Cristóvão and Freddie Hunt for the pole-position. Any of the three Bronze drivers have been at the top of the timesheets, however, in the end it was the young gun of the ABM Grand Prix’s Ginetta G55 GT4 to post the fastest lap time, beating Veloso Motorsport’s Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Cristóvão by a narrow margin of 0.2 seconds.
Hunt, the son of the 1976 Formula One World Champion, took the Am Cup-entered Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 of Team Virage to third overall, three second away from the poleman.
Bullitt Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT4s couldn’t find a way to enter in the top-three. Ian Loggie and Stephen Pattrick were fourth and fifth respectively.
In the GTC class, Tockwith Motorsport Ginetta G50 GT4 driver Marmaduke Hall qualified on the pole. He beat series debutant Moh Ritson (Ginetta G50 GT4 - Tockwith Motorsport). Behind the two Tockwith Motorsport cars it was championship returnee Juan Reina (Ginetta G50 GT4 - Plemar Sport) in third place, and Marcus Forthergill’s Porsche and Jemma Moore’s Ginetta G50 GT4.
If the pole-position battle in the first session was exciting, the fight for Sunday’s race two first spot in the grid was not far behind with four cars finishing the session split by 0.4 seconds.
The “Green Bullet” proved to be the fastest car in the qualifying sessions as César Machado topped the timing screen in the ABM Grand Prix’s Ginetta G55 GT4, ahead of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 trio led by Madeira-native and Pro-Am class leader Francisco Abreu.
Bullitt Racing’s Andy Meyrick and Callum Macleod will start the final race of the weekend from third and fourth.
CO Jones claimed the pole in the Am category, placing the Team Virage’s Aston Martin in fifth overall. For Sunday’s 50-min race, he will start from the third row alongside GTC Cup pole-position Ginetta of Edward Moore.
Second fastest in GTC class was Edward’s sister Sarah Moore in the Tockwith Motorsport Ginetta, with Alberto Valverde claiming third in the Plemar Sport Ginetta.
Former single seater racer Callum Bradshaw placed the third Tockwith Motorsport Ginetta in ninth overall, ahead of Dave Benett’s Porsche.
Both races will be broadcast live on GT4 South European Series’ social media channels. Saturday’s race will start at 5:40pm, while Sunday's race will be live from 5.20pm (GMT+1).
Mariano Pires (1st Pro Am – Qualifying 1): "The qualifying session went well as I managed to get the pole-position for race one. In the first laps of the session I was trying to get myself used to the track with this car as I didn't have many chances to have clean laps during the free practice. I managed to plan my laps to have the two fastest laps in the last two. Therefore I do have good expectations for tomorrow. As always, our target is to win both races."
César Machado (1st Pro Am – Qualifying 2): “The car was great today, and even for a small margin, it was excellent to conquer the pole-position and Mariano too. Although we had only a single free practice session, and very early in the morning, we could collect valuable data for the qualifying session. I hope to translate this pole-position into a win tomorrow."
Freddie Hunt (1st Am – Qualifying 1): “Qualifying went well and I am reasonably satisfied with my result. I could have posted a bit quicker qualifying time but finally couldn’t put it together. Anyway it was good and I am happy.”
CO Jones (1st Am – Qualifying 2): “It is always a pleasure to drive here in Portimao and expect to enjoy my weekend at the track. Today was a good starting point and I hope to get a good result tomorrow.”
Marmaduke Hall (1st GTC – Qualifying 1): “We are happy because our pace is ok. We found some tenths after the practice session. We need to continue putting experience under our belt as it is our first time at the track again. Overall, we are happy and at the moment we are looking for some strong results for the championship. It was a good qualifying effort and let’s see what tomorrow brings us.”
Edward Moore (1st GTC – Qualifying 2): “We couldn’t collect lot information this morning in practice to be honest. But the most important thing this weekend is to bring home as many points as possible. I feel there are a few things we can change for the races.”