Laurens Vanthoor’s No. 1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS grabbed pole in an ultra competitive qualifying session for the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup opener at Misano.
At the track were he crashed heavily last year, the Belgian was quickest of a 39-car field with a 1:33.262, edging out the Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3 of Alvaro Parente by +0.015s.
“I’m very happy to be on pole,” Vanthoor said. “Last year we achieved it on a couple of occasions, but this year the level is much higher, so it’s even more satisfying.”
“A shame we missed pole by very little,” added Parente. “We didn’t race here last year, so we had no data to fall back on, and at the same time qualifying was also the first dry running of the weekend.”
Franck Perera held provisional pole with the No. 74 ISR Audi R8 LMS, but saw his time cancelled by the stewards for not respecting the track limits, an issue that affected more cars.
Qualifying marked the first completely dry running of the weekend, though rain started to fall right in the dying minutes of Q3, prohibiting drivers from further improving their times.
The Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Norbert Siedler and Marco Seefried that dominated last year’s race, posted the third time and will head the second row next to the No. 4 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT of Robin Frijns and Dries Vanthoor.
Giacomo Piccini took pole in the Pro-Am Cup with the brand new Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3, posting the fifth fastest time overall, while Markus Winkelhock put the No. 6 Phoenix Racing Audi sixth on the grid.
First of the Mercedes-AMG GT3s was Maxi Buhk in the No. 84 HTP Motorsport car, right in front of the identical No. 88 AKKA ASP entry of Felix Rosenqvist and Tristan Vautier, which turned out to be one of the surprises by ending up in the top two in both Q1 and Q2.
The first 15 cars were within one second of Vanthoor’s time (and even 21 in Q2), while none of the seven Lamborghini Huracán GT3s nor the three BMW M6 GT3s reached the Q3 shoot-out.
Tonight’s Qualifying Race is set for 8:50 p.m. Local time