Mirko Bortolotti, Marco Mapelli and Andrea Caldarelli earned pole position for the 3 Hours of Monza as the Lamborghini factory trio beat AKKA-ASP’s Raffaele Marciello, Daniel Juncadella and Jules Gounon by a narrow margin of 0.007 seconds in qualifying.
The drivers of the No. 63 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo posted the fastest average time across Sunday morning’s three individual sessions.
Their ultimate 1:47.006 figure was a combination of Bortolotti topping session one, Mapelli placing fifth in session two and Caldarelli taking third in the final 15-minute run.
The No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo ranked fourth in the combined classification heading into the final session, during which Gounon set the fastest overall lap of qualifying to jump into second and challenge for the opening pole of the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup season.
However, Gounon’s 1:46.442 flyer couldn’t quite make up for the time deficit caused by Bortolotti and Mapelli beating Marciello and Juncadella in the earlier sessions.
Caldarelli later revealed that he was battling a puncture during his time behind the wheel of the No. 63 FFF Lamborghini, despite posting a sought-after lap under 1m 47s.
“We knew that it was a very tough field but we didn’t think it would be so close,” Caldarelli told SRO pit lane reporter Gemma Scott.
“Mirko did an amazing job in Q1 and Marco got a bit unlucky in P2. Even more unlucky was that I got a puncture during my lap, so I was very lucky to finish the lap. So luck was on our side, but thanks to the team because they did an amazing job all weekend.”
Antonio Fuoco, Callum Ilott and Davide Rigon qualified third in the No. 71 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 with an average time of 1:47.102.
Fuoco, who led Free Practice on Friday, positioned 0.165 seconds behind Bortolotti after the first session while FIA Formula 2 runner-up Ilott set a 1:46.972 fastest lap in session two during his maiden GTWC Europe qualifying appearance.
Iron Lynx’s pole position run was then compromised when Rigon, who had a lap time deleted for track limits, placed 14th in the final segment.
The Team WRT Audi lineup of Dries Vanthoor, Kelvin van der Linde and Charles Weerts qualified fourth, while GPX Racing’s Porsche crew of Matt Campbell, Earl Bamber and Mathieu Jaminet rounded out the top five.
Those top five entries fell within 0.315 seconds of each other. In sixth and seventh were two Emil Frey Racing Lamborghinis, the first being the Pro entry for Giacomo Altoe, Norbert Siedler and Albert Costa.
The second claimed pole for the Silver Cup category as the all-Swiss crew of Alex Fontana, Rolf Ineichen and Ricardo Feller produced a 1:47.362 average.
This put Emil Frey’s new Silver entry three cars ahead of the next-best competitor in its class, which was the No. 87 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG on a 1:47.496.
The Pro cars between the top two in Silver were the No. 51 Iron Lynx Ferrari in eighth overall, the No. 4 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG and Walkenhorst Motorsport’s No. 34 BMW M6 GT3.
JOTA’s Pro-class McLaren 720S GT3 qualified 17th for its maiden GTWC Europe race with an average time of 1:47.797 for Ben Barnicoat, Ollie Wilkinson and Rob Bell.
Pole position in the Pro-Am division went to the other McLaren entry in the field, from Optimum Motorsport running under the Inception Racing banner.
Ollie Millroy and Bronze driver Brendan Iribe, who took sessions two and three owing to a two-driver setup, ended up on a 1:48.112 to take pole by 0.014 seconds from the CMR Bentley Continental GT3 of Gilles Vannelet, Shaun White and Nelson Panciatici.
The 3 Hours of Monza is due to get underway at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EST).
RESULTS: Qualifying (combined)