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Weerts Puts WRT Audi on Pole for Saturday Zandvoort Race

Weerts takes pole for first Zandvoort race, leading an Audi 1-2 in qualifying…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

Charles Weerts claimed pole for Saturday’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup race at Zandvoort after beating fellow Audi driver Simon Gachet to the top spot in qualifying.

Weerts set the pace in the 20-minute session with a time of 1:33.145 in the No. 32 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II prepared by Team WRT.

The reigning Sprint Cup champion ended up 0.045 seconds ahead of Gachet who qualified second behind the wheel of the No. 11 Tresor by Car Collection machine.

Weerts climbed to the top of the 25-car order twice during Saturday morning’s qualifying run for Race 1, with the Belgian initially going quickest after eight minutes with a 1:33.734 effort.

However, he was superseded in the latter stages of the session, after the field came into the pits for new Pirelli tires.

Several new challengers briefly reached the provisional pole spot including fellow WRT driver Thomas Neubauer, Attempto Racing’s Pieter Schothorst, Akkodis ASP’s Igor Walilko and Sainteloc Racing’s Aurelien Panis.

However, Weerts stamped his authority on the session by returning to the head of the leaderboard with the quickest lap time of the weekend so far, with two minutes to go.

Ulysse de Pauw put the No. 53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 third on the grid with a 1:33.271 and also sealed the Silver Cup class pole in the process.

The Belgian will share the second row with Tresor by Car Collection’s No. 12 Audi driver Luca Ghiotto, who bounced back from an early lap time deletion to take fourth.

Jules Gounon rounded out the top five in the No. 88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.

The Frenchman’s points-leading teammate — Timur Boguslavskiy in the No. 89 Mercedes-AMG — only managed to qualify 14th for the opening 60-minute race.

Audis fared well in the first qualifying session as six R8s ranked in the top 10.

Panis, who momentarily held pole amid the flurry of fast times in the closing minutes, ended up sixth in the No. 25 Sainteloc Racing Audi, while Neubauer and Schothorst were eighth and ninth behind Walilko’s No. 86 Mercedes-AMG.

The top 10 was rounded out by Walilko’s fellow Akkodis ASP driver Casper Stevenson.

Pole in the Pro-Am category went to Miguel Ramos driving the No. 188 McLaren 720S GT3 from Garage 59.

The Portuguese driver put two cars from other categories between him and his nearest competitor Stefano Constantini in the No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari.

One of those cars was the No. 46 WRT driven by Valentino Rossi, who qualified 20th overall after having a turbulent Friday that included two off-track moments and a replacement chassis.

The first race of the Sprint Cup meeting at Zandvoort takes place at 2 p.m. CEST (8 a.m. ET).

RESULTS: Qualifying 1

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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