Mercedes-AMG dominated qualification at Circuit Ricardo Tormo Valencia, claiming five of a possible six pole positions, but the #38 JOTA McLaren will lead the field away for Sunday’s opening Sprint Cup race, due to a scorching lap from Ben Barnicoat.
WRT AMG Claim Valencia Poles with Barnicoat for Jota McLaren and Engel for Toksport
With a 1m32.711s lap, the British ace stole pole in the final minutes of the first practise, knocking long-time leader Luca Stolz (#6 Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT) off the top spot by 0.073s. Barnicoat led Sprint Cup qualifying for the second time in a row: the #38 McLaren previously won Q1 at Brands Hatch, but was penalised for weaving throughout the session and finished third. A pair of Silver Cup crews will split the second row. scar Tunjo finished third in the #6 Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG after posting a time of 1m32.820s, only tenths behind teammate Stolz. Dennis Marschall qualified the #99 Attempto Racing car in fourth place, the greatest start of the season for an Audi, and the best finish for an Audi in either qualifying session. Timur Boguslavskiy was fifth fastest in the #88 AKKA ASP car, while Ezequiel Perez Companc was sixth fastest in the #90 Madpanda Motorsport car. Valentin Pierburg drove the #20 SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes-AMG to the top of the Pro-Am classification, extending the brand’s Q1 dominance.
The German set a new lap record by coming within 1.1 seconds of Barnicoat’s and earning a bonus point that might be crucial in the class championship race. Maro Engel narrowly won Q2 for his second overall pole of the season. Jules Gounon (#89 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG), who had his best qualifying performance of the season to clinch a seat on the front row for race 2, was just 0.007s ahead of the #6 Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT driver. Jim Pla earned Silver Cup pole in the sibling #87 AKKA ASP machine, while Dominik Baumann won Pro-Am with a fantastic lap in the #20 SPS Automotive Performance. Baumann will start fourth overall, 11 spaces ahead of his closest class challenger, and his performance earned the SPS team another bonus point. Pierburg and Baumann have moved up to second in the Pro-Am standings after securing both poles, and are currently only 13 points behind the class leader. Christian Engelhart, driving the #54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche, was next in line behind this quartet of Mercedes-AMG drivers. In sixth place, he will share the third row with Albert Costa, the Spanish ace who is proving to be the best of the Lamborghini runners.
Sky Tempesta Racing’s Eddie Cheever III qualified ninth overall and fourth in the Silver Cup class, putting Ferrari in the top-10 for the first time. The top-24 vehicles were separated by less than one second in the second session, resulting in a lot of surprises. Dries Vanthoor was only 13th in the title-winning #32 Team WRT Audi, while qualifying specialist Raffaele Marciello was just 23rd in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG. The Italian had a lap cancelled inside the first ten minutes due to track rules violations and did not finish the race, leaving one of the pre-event favourites with a difficult assignment in the second.
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