Clearwater Racing will start Saturday’s Sepang 12 Hours from the overall pole, following a fierce battle between Gianmaria Bruni and Laurens Vanthoor in Top-15 qualifying Friday in Malaysia.
Bruni reeled off a best lap of 2:02.768 to edge out the 2014 Blancpain GT Series champion — making his comeback following a leg and hip fracture — by 0.217 seconds.
The Italian will share driving duties with fellow Ferrari factory driver James Calado, Matt Griffin and Mok Weng Sun, as the Malaysian team seeks its third consecutive victory in the race.
“I have to thank Clearwater Racing for all the hard work they have put in, to be ready for this weekend,” Bruni said. “That really is the secret behind our performances during the past few days.
“Qualifying was tough, the gap was not that big, but I am of course happy to be on pole.”
The No. 55 FFF Racing Team by ACM McLaren 650S GT3 will line up third, followed by the No. 11 Singha Motorsport Team in fourth, with the No. 150 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS completing the top-five.
A tire issue for the No. 35 Team AAI Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 of Nobuteru Taniguchi, who also challenged for pole, saw the driver forfeit his best lap due per the rules. The Mercedes will start sixth.
Of note, the pair of Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3s will roll off from 9th and 15th on the grid, respectively.
Among the class pole-sitters include the No. 69 Team Fydis Aylezo Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo (GTC), the No. 80 Team Proton Lotus Exige V6 (GT4) and the No. 602 Jim Hunter Motorsport Subaru STi Impreza 2.0 (TC).
The Sepang 12 Hours gets underway Saturday at 12 p.m. local time.