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Intercontinental GT Challenge

GruppeM Locks Out Gulf 12H Front Row for Mercedes-AMG

Front-row lockout for Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing at IGTC season finale…

Photo: JEP/SRO

Maro Engel, Lucas Auer and Maximilian Goetz claimed pole position for Sunday’s Gulf 12 Hours and led a front-row lockout for Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing.

The drivers of the No. 98 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, which underwent extensive repairs on Friday night after a crash in testing, posted an average time of 1:51.474 across three 15-minute qualifying sessions on Saturday evening.

They beat their Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM teammates Raffaele Marciello, Daniel Juncadella and Jules Gounon by a narrow margin of 0.023 seconds.

After a brief red flag for Sky-Tempesta Racing’s stopped McLaren 720S GT3, Engel reeled off a last-ditch flying lap to beat Marciello by two-tenths in the opening run, before Auer trailed Juncadella by a thousandth of a second in the next session.

Gounon then beat Goetz by 0.16 seconds in the final outing with the best lap time of qualifying, but it wasn’t quite enough to put the No. 89 Mercedes-AMG on pole.

Audi Sport Team Tresor qualified third on the grid for the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season finale with its Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II driven by Dennis Marschall, Mattia Drudi and Kelvin van der Linde.

The Audi Sport factory drivers combined for an average time of 1:51.655, putting them 0.181 seconds short of pole.

AF Corse’s No. 71 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 ended up fourth in the hands of Antonio Fuoco, James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi who set the fastest lap in Q2.

The sister No. 50 AF Corse Ferrari came through in fifth, ahead of Al Manar Racing by GetSpeed’s Mercedes-AMG and the two Sainteloc-run Audis.

Formula 1 driver Kevin Magnussen and his 24 Hours of Le Mans class-winning father Jan qualified 15th overall in their MDK Motorsports Ferrari, which they shared with Bronze-rated Mark Kvamme.

They will start behind six cars from the Pro-Am category, which was led by Inception Racing.

The Inception trio of Ollie Millroy, Ben Barnicoat and Brendan Iribe produced a 1:52.595 average in their Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3, beating Garage 59’s two cars of the same type.

Mercedes-AMG squad RAM Racing beat Ferrari customer Baron Motorsport to the Am pole, while Centri Porsche Ticino set the pace in the Porsche Cup category.

RESULTS: Qualifying (combined)

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

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