Laurens Vanthoor will start the FIA GT World Cup from pole position, after a dominant qualifying race victory for the Audi Sport Team WRT driver on Saturday.
From second on the grid, Vanthoor inherited the lead when teammate Edoardo Mortara hit the wall at the start of the race. The No. 7 Audi R8 LMS, therefore, headed to the pits while the sister No. 8 car took the race lead.
The two Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Rs moved into second and third, with Earl Bamber ahead of Kevin Estre. The Frenchman moved from sixth to third within the first lap of the Guia Circuit.
While the Porsches mounted attacks on the Audi throughout the race, it was to no avail as Vanthoor secured the victory by a margin of 0.786 seconds over Bamber after the 12-lap race.
Estre completed the top-three, within two seconds of the leader.
“To be honest, in past years we saw that we lost the race at the start, so we put a lot of preparation into the start and that worked out,” Vanthoor said.
“I had a slightly better start than Edo, so I was in front. I left him as much room as I could. That gave me first position to control the race.
“Then, it was more difficult than I expected, I had to push hard in the second sector as the Porsches are faster in the first and third sector, but I managed to keep them at bay.
“For tomorrow, it is obviously easier to control the start when you have both cars on the front row, but I am not particularly worried. I know that we have the potential to do well and I will try to make the best of it.”
2015 champion Maro Engel was the best of the rest in his Mercedes-AMG GT3, while team-mate Renger van der Zande was fifth in the other Mercedes-AMG Driving Academy entry.
There were two safety car periods in the race, the first of which was caused by Nico Mueller who hit the barrier hard on the second lap.
The Phoenix Racing driver had already been involved in contact, spinning on the opening lap after colliding with van der Zande.
The field went green after three laps but contact between John Shen and Philip Ma at the halfway point brought the safety car back out for another three laps.
Having come into the pits for a new rear wing, Mortara went back out on track before heading back into the pitlane for a fresh set of tires.
He rejoined the track and eventually finished 13th, but he forced Darryl O’Young out of the race in the process.
The 18-lap main race for the FIA GT World Cup is set for 12:55 p.m. local time on Sunday.
Rene de Boer contributed to this report