Dries Vanthoor prefaced his and Charles Weerts’ bid for a third straight Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup title by leading Pre-Qualifying practice for the season finale at Valencia.
Vanthoor set the pace in Friday’s second 80-minute track session by registering a time of 1:31.474 behind the wheel of the No. 32 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II.
Vanthoor set the pace a quarter of the way into the session but was displaced at the top of the timing charts by Ulysse de Paw, who was in turn beaten by Dennis Marschall.
Defending champion and points leader Vanthoor then returned to first place with just over 20 minutes remaining, improving on Marschall’s number by 0.084 seconds.
Marschall, who shares the No. 66 Attempto Racing Audi with Pieter Schothorst, settled for second overall.
Dean MacDonald slotted Garage 59’s Pro-Am leading McLaren 720S GT3 into third with a time of 1:31.726.
MacDonald initially went second-quickest outright before Vanthoor jumped to the top of the order for the second time.
Christopher Mies took fourth in the No. 33 WRT Audi, ahead of Silver Cup pacesetter and class champion-elect De Pauw in AF Corse’s No. 53 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020.
Vanthoor and Weerts’ only challengers for the Sprint Cup title are Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy, whose Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo placed eighth in Pre-Qualifying courtesy of Marciello’s 1:31.916.
Marciello set the fastest lap during Free Practice on Friday morning but Vanthoor was the quickest driver of the day.
Vanthoor and Weerts hold an 11.5-point advantage over Marciello and Boguslavskiy with two races left in the season.
Pre-Qualifying passed without any major incidents as all 26 cars took to the 2.48-mile Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
Qualifying for the first of this weekend’s 60-minute Sprint Cup races starts at 9 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) on Saturday.