“It's very good to be in P1 at this track, because the first corner can be very tricky,” said Makowiecki. “The race will be interesting tomorrow, because we've been finding it hard to warm up the tyres quickly after exiting the pits.” His co-driver Dusseldorp agreed that tyre temperatures will be a major factor in the race result. “It's good to be on pole with the other two cars further behind – hopefully we can close the championship gap,” he stated. The HEXIS pair currently lie third in the standings, 17 points behind the leaders Bartels and Buurman. Their team-mates Gregoire Demoustier and Alvaro Parente qualified seventh.
Although neither of the WRT Audi driver pairings have a chance of winning the title, the Belgian squad can still possibly take the team's championship, and a 2-3 result in qualifying confirmed their status as serious challengers. “We were a little worried after practice, and didn't even think we'd be fast enough to make the final part of qualifying, so we're very happy,” said Laurens Vanthoor, who will line the Audi R8 he shares with Stephane Ortelli up in second later today.
Frank Stippler and Oliver Jarvis qualified third, the latter confirming that tyre temperatures are as much an issue in the Audi as they are for the other makes: “The first two or three laps on cold tyres are like driving on ice,” he said, “so it's all about setting up the car to generate temperatures. We're surprised that the BMWs and Mercedes weren't higher up the grid.”
Vita4One BMW's strong showing in yesterday's practice sessions was not borne out today: Bartels and Buurman will start the first race from 10th position. Both All-Inkl cars, meanwhile, tried to run in their front tyres during the first two parts of qualifying, before upping the pace for the pole shootout. But their performance was still not sufficient: fourth for Nicky Pastorelli and Thomas Jaeger and eighth for championship contenders Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock was the best they could manage.
Toni Vilander (AF Corse Ferrari) had shone in the early part of qualifying, but neither of the Italian squad's cars made it through to the pole shootout, and will line up ninth and eleventh. There was better news for the Reiter Engineering Lamborghinis, however: they'll start fifth and sixth, with Mike Parisy in particular impressing on his first outing for the German team.
GT3 Europe pole position for both of the weekend's races went to Max Buhk and Dominik Baumann, driving a Mercedes SLS for the Heico-Gravity-Charouz team. “It was a good lap, one or two mistakes, so not perfect, but everything's going in our direction,” said Buhk. They look strongly poised to take that series' title, though the Leipert Lamborghini pair of David Mengsdorf/Harry Proczyk and the AF Corse Ferrari duo of Giuseppe Ciro/Gaetano Ardagna Perez both have a slim chance of overhauling them. The Lamborghini will line up second in race one, while the Ferrari has the same spot for race two – both of which will be combined with the two GT1 World races.
Story by: Stephen Errity