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Parente Claims Second Blancpain Pole at Paul Ricard

Alvaro Parente claims second Blancpain Endurance Series pole of season…

Photo: Georges De Coster

Photo: Georges De Coster

Alvaro Parente claimed his second Blancpain Endurance Series pole of the season as he completed a lap of Paul Ricard in his No. 98 ART Grand Prix McLaren in 1:57.198.

The Portuguese driver was in control of the final part of Qualifying and kept the No. 85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes of Stef Dusseldorp 0.332s behind him.

“It’s a good track for the car and I like it here also. We are looking good, but it’s going to be a tough race at night,” said Parente. “We played it right with the tires and we have a good strategy for later today.”

The third and deciding session was interrupted by a red flag, caused by the other ART GP McLaren, as Kevin Estre stopped his car on the inside of Signes with a fuel pump issue.

Despite failing to set a time in Q3, the No. 99 McLaren will still start the race tenth on the grid, as Andy Soucek clocked the fastest time in Q2.

Dusseldorp already showed a strong pace on Friday and after an unlucky season so far managed to out qualify his teammate Maxi Buhk in the No. 84 HTP car by more than 0.6s (P12).

“The car is performing well here as we already saw in practice and I had a clear track in front of me for two laps in qualifying,” said Dusseldorp. “After all the bad luck in the previous races, I’m really hunting for the champagne now.”

The No. 80 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R Nismo GT3 barely missed out on the front row, as Alex Buncombe was 0.001s slower than Dusseldorp, but still quickest in the Pro-Am class.

Katsumasa Chiyo made it two RJN Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 in the top five, with both Japanese cars being separated by the TDS Racing BMW Z4 GT3 in the hands of Nick Catsburg.

The No. 8 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 of Antoine Leclerc was the first of the Bentleys in seventh (+0.759s), with the No. 7 in the hands of Steven Kane only two places further on the grid, 0.027s slower than his teammate.

The No. 26 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra GT3 of Ortelli-Sandstroem-Guilvert outqualified (P8 – 0.773s) the WRT cars, as the No. 3 ended up in P14, while the No. 1 continued to struggle 1.549s of the pace in 24th position.

All 42 cars took part in the session, with the top 12 within the same second as the polesitter.

RESULTS: Qualifying

Vincent Wouters (@VinceWouters) is a Belgium-based sports car racing reporter, providing coverage primarily of the Blancpain GT Series.

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