AF Corse Ferrari charges through to qualifying race victory in Slovakia

Toni Vilander and Filip Salaquarda gave Ferrari its first victory in the FIA GT1 World Championship in Saturday's qualifying race at the Slovakia Ring

AF Corse Ferrari charges through to qualifying race victory in Slovakia

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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Hexis McLaren takes pole position for Qualifying Race in Slovakia

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Series GT
Author Gary Watkins
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