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GT World Challenge Europe

FFF Captures Second Straight Endurance Cup Pole at Ricard

Mapelli, Caldarelli lead Q2 and Q3 to set FFF Lamborghini on pole for Paul Ricard 1000km…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

Mirko Bortolotti, Marco Mapelli and Andrea Caldarelli captured a second consecutive Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup pole position for the Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini squad at Paul Ricard.

The Italian trio planted the No. 63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo at the front of the grid for this evening’s six-hour race with an average time of 1:53.937 across three sessions.

Bortolotti placed fifth in the opening 15-minute session before Mapelli and Caldarelli, who set the fastest outright lap, went quickest in Q2 and Q3 to secure the pole.

2019 Endurance Cup champion FFF will share the front row of the grid with the No. 71 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 of Antonio Fuoco, Callum Ilott and Davide Rigon.

The Ferrari trio, which includes one of last year’s Paul Ricard pole-sitters in Fuoco, qualified 0.193 seconds behind its Lamborghini rivals.

FFF’s result came after Bortolotti, Mapelli and Caldarelli claimed a narrow pole for the 3 Hours of Monza.

The last time a team clinched pole for consecutive Endurance Cup races occurred in 2019 when Grasser Racing Team led qualifying for rounds one and two at Monza and Silverstone. Bortolotti was a member of the lineup on both occasions.

Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos will occupy row two of the grid after Haupt Racing Team and AKKA-ASP qualified third and fourth.

Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Vincent Abril combined for a 1:54.136 average in their HRT car which led Pre-Qualifying practice last night. HRT ended up just one-thousandth of a second clear of ASP’s Raffaele Marciello, Daniel Juncadella and Jules Gounon.

Walkenhorst Motorsport’s No. 34 BMW M6 GT3 ultimately qualified fifth after pacing the opening session courtesy of a 1:53.82 lap time from Sheldon van der Linde.

The German team’s advantage was cut down from 0.231 seconds to 0.018 seconds after Q2 when Marco Wittmann placed fourth behind Mapelli, Ilott and Stolz.

Walkenhorst then lost its provisional pole status in the final session as David Pittard could only manage a 1:54.448 that put the British driver 19th on the leaderboard.

The two Pro-class Emil Frey Racing Lamborghinis finished sixth and seventh after Q3 top-three placings for Arthur Rougier and Albert Costa, while the Monza-winning Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R was eighth.

Garage 59 earned the Silver Cup pole as its Aston Martin Vantage GT3 driven by Valentin Hasse-Clot, Nicolai Kjargaard and Alex MacDowall breached the outright top ten.

Hasse-Clot placed an impressive seventh overall after Q1 and was backed up by his co-drivers over the next two runs to leave Garage 59 on a combined time of 1:54.509.

GPX Racing rounded out the top ten with its Porsche, ahead of the sister Iron Lynx factory Ferrari and the top Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo from Sainteloc Racing.

Markus Winkelhock, Finlay Hutchison and Frederic Vervisch averaged out at 1:54.555 for Sainteloc’s No. 26 machine, six-tenths off the pole figure.

Walkenhorst’s No. 35 BMW was 13th from the lead Team WRT Audi, in which Kelvin van der Linde experienced a wild spin at Signes corner during Q2 that resulted in the car’s rear window popping out.

Behind the No. 26 Sainteloc Audi was AKKA-ASP’s No. 87 Mercedes-AMG which was the second-placed car in Silver Cup.

Garage 59 took a class pole double with its Astons Martins as Chris Goodwin, Alexander West and Jonny Adam filed a 1:54.945 to end up 24th overall and top of the Pro-Am division.

They will have seven other cars between their Aston and the second-placed Sky-Tempesta Racing for the 6 p.m. CEST race start.

RESULTS: Qualifying (Combined)

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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