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Marciello Quickest in Dry Pre-Qualifying as Times Tumble

Raffaele Marciello puts 24H Spa winner Akkodis ASP on top in Hockenheim Pre-Quali…

Photo: Kevin Pecks/SRO

Raffaele Marciello went quickest in Pre-Qualifying practice for the 3 Hours of Hockenheim as the lap times tumbled due to drastically improved weather conditions.

Less than three hours after the end of Saturday morning’s Free Practice run, which took place on a wet track with poor visibility due to spray, the skies over southwest Germany rapidly cleared for Saturday’s second 90-minute track session.

On a dry circuit, Marciello set the pace with a time of 1:37.643 in the No. 88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo that he shares with fellow Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup points leaders Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella.

Marciello, whose fastest lap was 16 seconds quicker than Adam Eteki’s Free Practice benchmark, beat Attempto Racing Audi driver Dennis Marschall by 0.001 seconds.

Both of those times came during the opening half-hour of the session. Their nearest challenge in the remaining time came from Charles Weerts, whose 1:37.766 effort which elevated the No. 32 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II to third overall.

GTWC Europe Sprint Cup points leader Weerts ended up ahead of three McLaren 720S GT3s.

Frederik Schandorff bounced back from a wild spin exiting the final corner to later produce a time of 1:37.905 that brought the Inception Racing McLaren into fourth.

The Gold Cup class pacesetter edged ahead of JP Motorsport’s Vincent Abril and Garage 59’s Nicolai Kjaergaard, who was one of a few drivers to take a brief turn at the top of the timing charts early on.

Kjaergaard was bumped down the order first by Lind, and then by Marschall who led for about 15 minutes before Marciello came through in the No. 88 Mercedes-AMG.

Kjaergaard’s Silver Cup co-driver Dean MacDonald caused a short red flag with just over 45 minutes to go when he spun on entry to the fast Turn 11 right-hander, prompting the No. 159 McLaren to run deep into the gravel.

After a solid period of green flag running, the session ended under a second red flag that occurred in the final three minutes. The latter stoppage occurred for procedural reasons, rather than for a car encountering trouble.

Qualifying for the fourth round of the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup season takes place at 9:45 a.m. CEST (3:45 a.m. ET) on Sunday.

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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