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Abril Lands First Pole of DTM’s New GT3 Era at Monza

Vincent Abril leads Mercedes-AMG two-row lockout for Race 1 at Monza…

Photo: Hoch Zwei

Vincent Abril claimed the first pole position of the DTM’s new GT3 era as Mercedes-AMG drivers qualified first, second, third and fourth in Saturday’s 20-minute session at Monza.

Abril set himself first on the grid for this afternoon’s 50-minute race in Italy with a time of 1:46.488 that came around halfway into the session, while Daniel Juncadella made a late improvement to secure a place on the front row.

It marked 2015 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup champion Abril’s first DTM pole ahead of his debut in the German championship with Haupt Racing Team.

Juncadella appeared in third with around five minutes remaining, the GruppeM Racing driver slotting in between fellow AMG competitors Lucas Auer and Maximilian Goetz.

Juncadella then improved again with just under two minutes to go, edging ahead of ex-BMW pilot Auer who qualified third in his Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.

Seven-hundredths of a second separated the top-two after Juncadella’s 1:34.560 attempt, while Auer finished only a tenth off the pole time. Goetz ended up fourth for HRT, while Esteban Muth claimed a surprise fifth for Lamborghini outfit T3 Motorsport.

The Belgian teenager initially banked 12th in his first DTM qualifying session, before improving to a 1:46.863 two minutes from the end.

This positioned Muth as the best non-Mercedes-AMG driver, one place above Winward Racing’s Philip Ellis who ran sixth after leading the way during Friday practice.

Liam Lawson qualified seventh in the best of the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020s, beating his teammate and ex-Formula 1 driver Alex Albon who posted a 1:47.397. That put the Thai-British racer 14th on the grid for his sports car racing debut.

Last year’s DTM runner-up Nico Mueller filed a late improvement to take eighth for Team Rosberg.

The Swiss driver was Audi’s top qualifying representative with a time of 1:46.927 that ended up being just one-thousandth of a second better than Kelvin van der Linde’s ninth-place effort for Abt Sportsline.

Gary Paffett’s stand-in Maximilian Buhk completed the top ten in the Muecke Motorsport steer-by-wire Mercedes-AMG, ahead of Mike Rockenfeller and Esmee Hawkey.

The top BMW M6 GT3 driver was Walkenhorst Motorsport’s Marco Wittmann in 15th place, marginally over one second away from the polt figure.

Abril’s time registered as just 0.046 slower than the fastest lap set by fellow Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver Jules Gounon in qualifying for the 3 Hours of Monza earlier this year.

The DTM is using Michelin S8M medium-compound tires for its switch to GT3 rules from Class One, compared with the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS which runs on Pirellis. The two series also use different Balance of Performance systems.

The opening race of the 2021 season is due to get underway at 1:33 p.m. CEST (7:33 a.m. EST).

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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