Roberto Merhi narrowly put Eurasia Motorsport’s Ligier JS P217 Gibson on pole for this weekend’s Asian Le Mans Series season-opener at Shanghai International Circuit.
The ex-Manor Formula 1 driver posted a time of 1:52.191 to beat Thunderhead Carlin Racing’s Harry Tincknell to the fastest lap of the first-ever Asian LMS qualifying session for current-gen LMP2 cars.
Tincknell, driving a Dallara P217 Gibson, crossed the line 0.051 seconds off Merhi’s ultimate pace, while Roman Rusinov qualified third in G-Drive Racing’s Oreca-based Aurus 01 Gibson.
Rusinov is set to share the second row of the grid with former Rebellion Racing LMP1 driver Mathias Beche who lodged a 1:53.457 aboard Inter Europol Competition’s Ligier.
The top five cars were all separated by less than four-tenths of a second as Shaun Thong qualified K2 Uchino Racing’s Oreca fifth on a 1:53.580.
Pole-sitter Merhi will share the Eurasia Ligier with Australian co-drivers Aidan Read and Nick Foster in Sunday’s four-hour race, while Tincknell is teamed with Jack Manchester and Ben Barnicoat.
Merhi’s pole was the first for a Ligier JS P217 Gibson since the Silverstone round of the European Le Mans Series in August 2018.
Pole in the LMP2 Am Trophy, which is reserved for previous-gen cars, went to ARC Bratislava’s Kang Ling.
In the GT ranks, Davide Rigon put the HubAuto Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 on top with a time of 2:03.760 that set the Italian two-tenths above his fellow works driver Alessandro Pier Guidi.
Third on the grid in class will be the D’Station Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 qualified by Ross Gunn.
In LMP3, Nielsen Racing beat defending teams’ champion Inter Europol Competition to the pole with Garett Grist setting the best time at the wheel of the No. 3 Norma M30 Nissan.
Nielsen qualified first and third for tomorrow’s race, which is set to get underway at 9:45 a.m. local time (1:45 a.m. GMT; Saturday, 8:45 p.m. ET).