The WRT team secured the first pole position of the 2022 season to give the new Audi R8 a perfect competition debut at Imola
The German marque’s previous pole came at the same circuit in 2020 and its pace was clear again today, with four of its R8 LMS Evo II models qualifying among the overall top 10 and a P1 result in the Silver Cup. . They didn’t have it all their way, however, with representatives from Mercedes-AMG, McLaren, Aston Martin and BMW all among the top 10 on the starting grid this afternoon.
The result owed more to consistency than outright speed, which was always likely to be the case given the heavy traffic created by a 52-car field. Indeed, the main task was to find the space to complete a clean and competitive lap, which all three WRT team riders were able to achieve.
Dries Vanthoor finished fifth in the opening session, although only the fourth-best Audi after Christopher Haase topped the times for Tresor by Car Collection while series debutant Adam Eteki was an impressive P2 in the #10 Boutsen machine. Racing.
Kelvin van der Linde set the fourth fastest time in Q2, which was also dominated by an Audi as Patric Niederhauser led the way in the #25 Saintéloc Junior Team. Markus Winkelhock finished second in the #66 Attempto Racing Audi, followed by defending champion Nicklas Nielsen in the #51 Iron Lynx Ferrari.
In Q3, Weerts was eighth fastest, enough to give his team pole position just 0.023 seconds behind the #25 Saintéloc machine. The young Belgian ended the session on the wrong side at Tamburello, losing control of his car as he pushed even better in the closing stages. This caused a red flag, but as things stand the No.32 will start from pole.
The #88 Mercedes-AMG Team Akkodis ASP will start from third place, their efforts aided by a strong Q3 performance from Jules Gounon which produced a 1m39.559s. The #12 Tresor by Car Collection entry places three Audis in the top four, while JP Motorsport finished fifth with its #111 McLaren.
Iron Lynx qualified sixth with their #51 Ferrari, recovering from a tough start to the session, followed by the #99 Audi Attempto Racing, the #95 Aston Martin Beechdean AMR and the #1 BMW. °98 ROWE Racing. Marvin Kirchhöefer was the star of Q3 with a blistering 1m39.489s, dragging the #38 JOTA McLaren to 10th place on the grid after his teammates failed to crack the top 20.
The Silver Cup pole went to the aforementioned #99 Attempto Audi, which managed the pace on Saturday shown by Alex Aka, Nicholas Schöll and Marius Zug. They will start nine places ahead of the #87 Mercedes-AMG Akkodis ASP, with the #26 Saintéloc Junior Team Audi one position further back.
The very first Gold Cup pole went to Winward Racing with the #57 Mercedes-AMG of Jens Liebhauser, Lorenzo Ferrari and Lucas Auer. Ferrari had the best result of the trio, securing ninth place overall in Q2. Pro-Am pole went to AF Corse with the #52 Ferrari of Louis Machiels, Stefano Costantini and Andrea Bertolini starting 12 places ahead of their closest class rival.
This afternoon’s season-opening race will start at 3:00 p.m. CEST. The live stream is available on the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS website and social media with English, French, German and Italian commentary options available.