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Intercontinental GT Challenge

AKKA-ASP Leads AF Corse Ferraris in Kyalami Pre-Quali

Jules Gounon leads Pre-Qualifying practice as AKKA-ASP form continues at Kyalami…

Photo: SRO

Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA-ASP driver Jules Gounon led Friday morning’s Pre-Qualifying practice session for the Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour ahead of the two AF Corse Ferrari entries.

Gounon set the pace with a time of 1:42.465 in the No. 89 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo that he shares with Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy.

The Frenchman’s benchmark effort during the dry one-hour, 45-minute session built on a strong Thursday for AKKA-ASP that saw the team lead both paid testing runs and Free Practice.

Gounon ended up just under half a second clear of Nicklas Nielsen, who posted a time of 1:42.914 in the final half-hour to move the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 up to second.

Nielsen joined Gounon in the sub-1m 43s range and jumped ahead of his fellow IGTC championship leader Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari.

Mikael Grenier slotted into fourth late in the session with a 1:43.331 figure behind the wheel of the ASP-operated SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG.

Patric Niederhauser posted the fifth-best time of 1:43.459 for Audi Sport Team Sainteloc.

That came before Niederhauser’s co-driver Markus Winkelhock brought the No. 25 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo to a halt on the front straight with an unknown problem.

Winkelhock’s stoppage briefly brought out the red flags with 20 minutes remaining. It marked the second red flag of Pre-Qualifying, after an early interruption for barrier repairs at Clubhouse that consumed 20 minutes of the available running time.

The barrier damage was caused by an off-track moment for Tschops Sipuka on board the National-class Stradale Into Africa Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.

Next up for the Kyalami 9 Hour field is three-driver average qualifying starting at 3:30 p.m. local time (8:30 a.m. ET).

RESULTS: Pre-Qualifying

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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