AF Corse scored its fourth consecutive pole in GTE-Pro, following a tactical run by the defending FIA WEC champions in a mixed condition qualifying session Friday at Circuit of The Americas.
Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander combined for a four-lap average of 2:06.456 in the 25-minute session, which started in damp conditions before drying out in the latter stages.
While Bruni recorded his two timed laps early, the Italian returned to the wheel of the No. 51 Ferrari F458 Italia with less than five minutes to go, improving on his best laps, which made the difference.
The duo edged out the No. 97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE of Darren Turner and Stefan Muecke by a considerable 0.638 seconds, with the Fred Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet-driven No. 92 Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 911 ending up third.
Nick Tandy and Joerg Bergmeister (No. 91 Porsche) and Fernando Rees and Alex Macdowall (No. 99 Aston Martin) completed the top-five in class in the action-packed qualifying session.
Of note, Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor qualified the No. 65 Corvette C7.R seventh in class out of seven, with its 2:08.674 average more than two seconds slower than the AF Corse duo’s pole time.
The battle for GTE-Am pole honors also came down to the closing seconds of the session, with ProSpeed Competition taking the top spot in the team’s first race with a Porsche 911 RSR.
Matthieu Vaxiviere and Emmanuel Collard teamed for an average of 2:08.271 , less than one-tenth ahead of the No. 95 Aston Martin pairing of Richie Stanaway and Kristian Poulsen, which will start second in class.
It marked the first FIA WEC pole for Belgian squad, which started the season with a 997-based Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Vaxiviere and Collard will share the wheel with Francois Perrodo on Saturday.
The top-five in GTE-Am was completed by Ferraris from AF Corse and 8Star Motorsports, with the No. 61 car ahead of the Nos. 90 and 81, respectively.
The FIA WEC Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas takes the green Sunday at 5 p.m. CT, with live coverage on FOX Sports 2 and http://live.fiawec.com.