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GT World Challenge Europe

Barnicoat Banks Top Pre-Qualifying Time in JOTA McLaren

JOTA driver Ben Barnicoat leads the way during Pre-Quali practice at Circuit Ricardo Tormo…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

Ben Barnicoat sent JOTA to the top of the leaderboard in Pre-Qualifying practice for the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup finale at Valencia.

The British driver brought the British team’s McLaren 720S GT3 to the head of the 27-car field with a time of 1:32.611 that came around half an hour into the 80-minute session.

Barnicoat produced two purple laps to move above Dries Vanthoor, who set the early pace behind the wheel of the No. 32 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.

The title-winning WRT Audi was also the second-fastest car in Free Practice earlier on Saturday morning in the hands of Charles Weerts.

The Free Practice pace-setting No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo could only manage 24th in Pre-Qualifying with Raffaele Marciello at the helm.

Their teammate in the No. 89 Mercedes, Jules Gounon, posted the third-best Pre-Quali time overall ahead of Christian Engelhart in the Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Christopher Haase completed the top five for Audi squad Sainteloc Racing with a 1:33.059 effort.

Haase had a brief spin during the early stages of the session but managed to keep his No. 25 car out of the gravel.

The same could not be said for Robin Frijns, who rotated his No. 30 WRT Audi at the long Turn 8 left-hander before coming to a rest with both rear wheels in the gravel trap.

That solo incident resulted in a brief red flag period lasting just under six minutes.

The top non-Pro car was the Pro-Am leading Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Jonny Adam, who reeled off a 1:33.106 to end up sixth outright.

Arthur Rougier paced the Silver Cup class in the No. 144 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, which ranked seventh overall on a time of 1:33.188.

Rougier narrowly beat CMR Bentley driver Pierre-Alexandre Jean by six-thousandths of a second.

The first of two back-to-back 20-minute qualifying sessions for Sunday’s final two Sprint Cup races of the season gets underway at 3:30 p.m. CEST (9:30 a.m. EST).

RESULTS: Pre-Qualifying

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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