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AF Corse Ferrari charges through to qualifying race victory in Slovakia

AF Corse Ferrari wins in SlovakiaToni Vilander and Filip Salaquarda gave Ferrari its first victory in the FIA GT1 World Championship in Saturday's qualifying race at the Slovakia Ring.

Both drivers starred at the wheel of the AF Corse-run 458 Italia in damp conditions at the beginning and end of an event that started under the safety car. Vilander came from fourth on the grid to lead the race by the end of the first green-flag lap and then Salaquarda was able to pull away from his pursuers when the rain returned in the final 15 minutes to claim victory by nearly five seconds.

For Salaquarda, the result was his first overall race victory since karting.

"The car was a bit tricky to drive, but when it started raining more I was able to push and pull away," he said.

Second place went to the Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo LMP560 shared by Tomas Enge and Albert von Thurn und Taxis. Enge took over the car in a distant 13th position after a lacklustre opening stint from von Thurn und Taxis and a delay with the front left at the pitstop, but when the rain came he was routinely four seconds faster than the rest of the field.

The Czech driver was still ninth 10 laps before the end, but he made quick progress up the leaderboard on an increasingly damp track. He was able to claim second on the final lap from Yelmer Buurman in the bset of the Vita4One BMW Z4s. The Dutch driver rounded out the top three in the car he shared with team boss Michael Bartels.

Fourth place was taken by the All-Inkl.com Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG driven by Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock.

The pole-winning Hexis McLaren MP4-12C driven by Frederic Makowiecki and Stef Dusseldorp ran in the top three for most of the race before slowing in the final stages and creeping across the line in ninth position.

Qualifying race result - 25 laps:


Pos  Drivers                   Team/Car                Time/Gap
 1.  Vilander/Salaquarda       AF Corse Ferrari    1h01m26.548s 
 2.  Enge/von Thurn und Taxis  Reiter Lamborghini     +  4.568s
 3.  Bartels/Buurman           Vita4One BMW           + 16.106s
 4.  Basseng/Winkelhock        Munnich Mercedes       + 19.777s
 5.  Halliday/Parisy           Exim Porsche           + 26.693s
 6.  Jarvis/Stippler           WRT Audi               + 37.847s
 7.  Cressoni/Pavlovic         Sunred Ford            + 39.986s
 8.  Pastorelli/Jager          Munnich Mercedes       + 51.851s
 9.  Makowiecki/Dusseldorp     Hexis McLaren        + 1m05.548s
10.  Lauda/Mayr-Meinhof        Vita4One BMW         + 1m18.101s
11.  Ortelli/Vanthoor          WRT Audi             + 1m21.780s
12.  Castellacci/Ide           AF Corse Ferrari     + 1m23.159s

Retirements:
     Rosina/O'Young           Reiter Lamborghini       20 laps
     Demoustier/Parente       Hexis McLaren            15 laps
     Lariche/Lunardi          Exim Porsche       Did not start
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