Raffaele Marciello put AKKA-ASP’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo on top of the timing sheets in pre-qualifying for the final round of GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Marciello, who shares the No. 88 Mercedes with Timur Boguslavskiy, came up with a time of 1:44.964 early in the 80-minute session at stayed ahead for the duration.
Boguslavskiy is one of the title contenders heading into the final three races of the season this weekend, while Marciello beat two of the Russian’s main adversaries in the championship battle to control pre-qualifying.
Points leader Dries Vanthoor was second-quickest in the No. 32 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo with a time of 1:45.246 that put the Belgian ace 0.282 seconds off Marciello.
In third was Sainteloc Racing Audi driver Christopher Haase, who along with Arthur Rougier has an outside chance of snatching the title at Catalunya.
Haase’s time of 1:45.389 put him just ahead of Silver Cup pace-setter Juuso Puhakka in the Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG that led Free Practice 2 on Friday.
Emil Frey Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos lapped fifth and sixth in the hands of Ricardo Feller and Albert Costa, respectively.
CMR had its strongest showing of the event so far with Nelson Panciatici bringing the French team’s No. 107 Bentley Continental GT3 up to seventh overall on a 1:56.609.
Saturday’s opening session was red-flagged briefly after less than 10 minutes of running when Steven Palette nosed Saintetloc Racing’s Silver Cup Audi into the Turn 12 barriers.
Palette appeared to struggle to turn the car into the long right-hander near the end of the lap and went straight into the protective soft barrier without major damage.
Sainteloc fixed the car up to return to the track later in the session.