Raffaele Marciello put the No. 89 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo on pole position for the final race of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup season.
The Mercedes-AMG factory driver chalked up his fourth pole of the campaign by leading Sunday morning’s 20-minute qualifying session at Circuit Ricardo Tormo near Valencia.
Marciello’s time of 1:30.651 put him 0.194 seconds ahead of Team WRT Audi driver Dries Vanthoor, who sealed his third consecutive Sprint Cup title alongside Charles Weerts with a podium in Race 1 on Saturday.
Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy arrived in Spain as Vanthoor and Weerts’ closest challengers but they were unable to sufficiently close the points gap in the opener.
Klaus Bachler qualified third on the grid for Race 2 in the No. 56 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R with a time of 1:30.892, however the Austrian carries a three-place grid drop due to his car causing an incident during Race 1.
Silver Cup class pole-sitter Nicolaj Kjaergaard produced a 1:30.923 to set the fourth-best qualifying time in the No. 159 Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3.
Kjaergaard briefly set the fastest overall lap time with four minutes to go, during a late flurry of improvements throughout the field.
Marciello led during the opening stages of the session but needed to make a series of improvements to restore his Mercedes-AMG at the top of the leaderboard, as other drivers came to the fore.
Vincent Abril briefly hit the top spot in JP Motorsport’s No. 112 McLaren, before Marciello returned to provisional pole at the eight-minute mark.
He then appropriately responded to Kjaergaard’s bid for the overall pole with three minutes to go, while Vanthoor knocked the No. 159 McLaren off the front row.
Marciello topped four of the five Sprint Cup qualifying sessions that he took part in this year, with the missing one being at Misano where Vanthoor set the pace.
Behind Kjaergaard, Patric Niederhauser ranked fifth in the No. 25 Sainteloc Junior Team Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II, while Attempto Racing Audi driver Dennis Marschall was sixth, however they will both move ahead of Bachler on the grid.
The Pro-Am pole went to the other Garage 59 McLaren driven by Dean MacDonald, who reached ninth in the outright classification.
Frederic Vervisch set the 11th-quickest time in the No. 46 WRT Audi, which will serve a five-place grid drop for Race 2 after the Belgian’s co-driver Valentino Rossi accrued a third behavior warning point for improving a sector time under yellow flags in Race 1.
The final 60-minute race of the Sprint Cup season takes place at 2 p.m. CEST (8 a.m. ET).
RESULTS: Qualifying 2