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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Marciello Lands Second Consecutive 24H Spa Pole

Last year’s 24H Spa pole-sitter Raffaele Marciello does it again for Mercedes-AMG…

Photo: SRO

Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA-ASP driver Raffaele Marciello landed his second consecutive TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa pole position in Friday evening’s Super Pole shootout.

The Italian went three-tenths of a second clear at the top of the shootout classification, in a session that involved the 20 quickest cars from preliminary qualifying on Thursday.

Marciello’s first of two flying laps came in at 2:17.949 and was enough to snatch pole away from Mirko Bortolotti in the No. 63 Orange1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.

The AKKA-ASP driver’s exploits denied FFF a third consecutive Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS pole after Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli led qualifying for the 3 Hours of Monza and the Paul Ricard 1000km.

Marciello also gave Mercedes-AMG its third straight pole position at the 24 Hours of Spa.

He will share the No. 88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo with his full-season GTWC Europe Endurance Cup co-drivers Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella.

Nicki Thiim set the third-fastest lap aboard the No. 95 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, but was later handed a quarter-second penalty for leaving his pit box too late.

This bumped the reigning FIA World Endurance GT champion to eighth on the grid, and elevated Maro Engel to third.

Engel produced a 2:18.545 effort for Mercedes-AMG Team HRT, while Thiim’s penalty enabled Emil Frey Racing’s Silver Cup Lamborghini to move ahead to row two.

Ricardo Feller beat his Pro-category teammates Jack Aitken and Albert Costa, who finished 11th and 17th respectively in the other Emil Frey Lamborghinis.

Sheldon van der Linde was classified fifth for the No. 35 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW entry, ahead of Ben Barnicoat in the JOTA McLaren 720S GT3.

The highest-placed Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, and the last car to benefit from Thiim’s infraction, was the No. 66 Audi Sport Team Attempto car which qualified seventh in the hands of Mattia Drudi.

Porsche’s top representative in qualifying was Mathieu Jaminet who steered the Porsche 911 GT3 R of 2019 winner GPX Martini Racing to a time of 2:18.729 that was good enough for ninth.

Jaminet will share the fifth row of the grid with Felipe Fraga in the second of three AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMGs that managed to reach the top 20 shootout.

The French outfit’s Silver-category No. 87 car placed 16th with Thomas Drouet at the controls.

Drouet qualified third in Silver Cup, behind Pierre-Alexandre Jean who was 12th outright behind the wheel of CMR’s Bentley Continental GT3.

Lap time deletions were prevalent during Super Pole, as more than half the drivers lost lap times for exceeding track limits. The exits of Turn 9 and La Source were particular hot spots.

Marciello’s second flyer of 2:18.185, which was also quick enough for the pole pace, ended up being among the lap times wiped off the board.

The shootout initially looked set to be affected by wet weather when drops of water fell just before the first cars were sent out, however the rain held off for the duration of the session.

The rest of the 24 Hours of Spa grid outside the top 20 was decided in preliminary qualifying on Thursday, which took the average times across all drivers in each car.

RESULTS: Super Pole

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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