Mercedes-AMG Team Mann Filter driver Raffaele Marciello set the fastest lap during the opening qualifying session for this weekend’s Nürburgring 24.
The Italian driver posted a time of 8:24.801 in the final 15 minutes of the three-hour Thursday night run to secure the No. 48 Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the top of the order after improving on his quickest time set with 30 minutes left.
Marciello ended up 0.211 seconds clear of Rene Rast placed in the No. 14 works-affiliated Car Collection Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, while the No. 6 Black Falcon Mercedes came through in third.
Laurens Vanthoor set the fourth-best time of 8:28.054 in the No. 911 Manthey-Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, with Tom Blomqvist slotting the No. 98 ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 into fifth.
Black Falcon’s No. 2 Mercedes ended up sixth, 4.2 seconds off the overall pace, while the No. 99 ROWE BMW lapped seventh in the pack.
The session-leading Mann Filter Mercedes, which Marciello is sharing with Lance David Arnold, Maxi Goetz and Christian Hohenadel, is one of 19 cars bidding to be a part of the Top-Qualifying shootout on Friday.
Its theoretical best lap time of 8:19.978 will put it in a favorable position when the final group of 28 lead qualifiers is decided at the end of the two main sessions.
The theoretical times registered by the No. 14 Car Collection Audi (8:21.796) and the No. 6 Black Falcon Mercedes (8:24.035) also set them in good stead to reach the final stage.
N24 Qualifying Format Explained
The qualifying procedure for the Nürburgring 24 has been tweaked for 2019, with a theoretical lap time system in place to decide who makes it into the pole-deciding shootout.
For GT3 competitors, this evening and tomorrow afternoon’s pair of qualifying sessions were held to allocate the remaining 11 places in the Top-Qualifying shootout, with 17 slots having already been decided based on theoretical lap times in the Qualifying Race and first three VLN rounds.
The complicated new system, of which few details were communicated to media, sees theoretical lap times from tonight’s and tomorrow’s qualifying sessions used to decide the remaining Top-Qualifying entries.
Those theoretical times will be calculated by using an average of each car’s best five times in each sector, and adding all nine sector averages together. Those five quickest sector times can come from either session.
From those results, the fastest 11 entries will secure a place in Friday evening’s Top-Qualifying session, although a minimum of eight of those must come from the Pro-Am field.
Qualifying 2, which lasts 1 hour and 50 minutes, is set to take place tomorrow at 2:55 p.m. while Top-Qualifying is scheduled for 7 p.m.
RESULTS: Qualifying 1
Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report.