Vita4One BMW defeats Munnich Mercedes in Zolder GT1 World Championship qualifying race thriller

Vita4One BMW drivers Yelmer Buurman and Michael Bartels won the qualifying race at round two of the FIA GT1 World Championship at Zolder

Vita4One BMW defeats Munnich Mercedes in Zolder GT1 World Championship qualifying race thriller

Buurman brought their BMW Z4 from sixth on the grid to fourth on a drying track over the first half of the race. A quick turnaround by the Vita4One crew got Bartels out on slicks in third.

That became second when the leader, Frank Stippler in the best of the WRT Audis, had to return to the pits for slicks after being sent out on a set of grooved Pirellis. Bartels subsequently moved into the lead when Markus Winkelhock's All-Inkl Mercedes slowed when its accelerator assembly broke with four laps to go.

Bartels came under pressure from Thomas Jager in the second of the two Mercedes, but was able to hold on to claim victory by just half a second at the end of the one-hour race.

"It's good to make up some ground after a very difficult weekend at Nogaro when we only scored one point," said Vita4One team boss Bartels, whose BMWs have been given a larger-diameter air-restrictor for this race.

Jager, who shares his All-Inkl Mercedes SLS AMG with Nicky Pastorelli, closed down a 6.5s deficit to Bartels in less than 10 laps, but was unable to mount a significant challenge on a track that was still damp off-line.

Third place went to the Exim Bank Team China Porsche in which Matt Halliday had qualified on pole position before being docked two places for crossing the white line at the exit of the pitlane. Team-mate Mike Parisy dropped ground in the beginning before recovering to third, but too much time was lost at the pitstop, by a team only put together in the past month, for Halliday to mount a challenge for victory.

Peter Kox led the early laps in his Reiter Lamborghini before being pulled into the pits to take a penalty for jumping the start.

Results - 36 laps: Pos Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Bartels/Buurman Vita4One BMW 1h00m41.928s 2. Jager/Pastorelli Munnich Mercedes + 0.567s 3. Halliday/Parisy Exim Porsche + 20.578s 4. Makowiecki/Dusseldorp Hexis McLaren + 21.119s 5. Mayr-Melnhof/Lauda Vita4One BMW + 21.462s 6. Winkelhock/Basseng Munnich Mercedes + 25.785s 7. Ide/Castellacci AF Corse Ferrari + 41.336s 8. O'Young/Kox Reiter Lamborghini + 49.829s 9. Martin/Vasiliev Valmon Aston Martin + 1m03.752s 10. Demoustier/Parente Hexis McLaren + 1m09.961s 11. Stippler/Jarvis WRT Audi + 1m10.255s 12. Vanthoor/Ortelli WRT Audi + 1m39.328s 13. Vilander/Salaquarda AF Corse Ferrari + 1 lap Retirements: Zuber/Afanasyev Valmon Aston Martin 18 laps von Thurn und Taxis/Enge Reiter Lamborghini 9 laps Lariche/Wei Exim Porsche 7 laps Pavlovic/Cressoni Sunred Ford 0 laps 
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Exim Porsche quickest in World GT1 qualifying at damp Zolder

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Exim Porsche fends off Vita4One BMW to take Zolder GT1 World Championship win

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Series GT
Author Gary Watkins
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