The #76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage will start on pole position for a second Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup race in succession at this evening’s Circuit Paul Ricard 1000km.
The crew of Nicki Thiim, Jake Dennis and Matthieu Vaxiviere combined to once again produce the best three-driver average, edging out a spirited effort from #58 Garage 59 McLaren 650 S GT3.
“We are very pleased,” said Vaxiviere after the session. “With Nicki and Jake, our performances are quite balanced, which is our main strength in qualifying.
“We showed that we can win at Silverstone and we will do our best here. It would be special to win my home race, but winning is always nice regardless of the track!”
While the Aston was a familiar presence at the top of the timing screens, the Garage 59 McLaren was displaying an impressive upturn in performance. The British squad were quickest in the opening segment of qualifying thanks to Andrew Watson, while competitive laps from Ben Barnicoat and Come Ledogar kept the McLaren at the sharp end.
Third overll went to the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Mikhail Aleshin, Miguel Molina and Davide Rigon. The average gap between the first three was just 0.208s, while a mere 1.065s covered the top 26 cars.
In the Silver Cup category, the #54 Emil Frey Racing Jaguar G3 bagged its third successive class pole. The crew of Alex Fontana, Adrian Zaugg and Mikael Grenier was 13th overall, seven spots clear of their nearest Silver Cup rivals.
“We didn’t not have good pace at the beginning of the weekend but since free practice we’ve recovered pretty well thanks to an incredible job from the engineers," explained Zaugg.
“This is our third pole in the Silver Cup, but it is going to be a long race. I am quite confident as we found a good balance within our line-up. Unfortunately it was tough for me to get a clean qualifying lap because of the traffic. It was a shame not to be fully respected by some of the Pro drivers."
In Pro-Am, the #49 Ram Racing Mercedes was on top, continuing their fine form from Silverstone where Euan Hankey, Salih Yoluc and Darren Burke were class winners.
“At Silverstone we qualified P3 and ended up winning the race, so things have started a bit better here with P1,” said Hankey.
“The team, Salih and Darren all did a mega job, which made my life pretty easy! Now we are looking for a clean six hours of racing”
The Am Cup category was also topped by the Silverstone-winning car, with the #188 Garage 59 McLaren 650 S GT3 leading the way.
The combination of Chris Goodwin, Alexander West and Chris Harris was impressive once again, taking 37th overall and beating a number of Pro-Am and Silver Cup cars in the process.
“We’re over the moon with pole,” said Harris. “We have managed to develop the car thanks to a fine job by the Garage 59 engineers and my team mates have done brilliantly.
“I think we have a nice balance for the race as well. It promises to be a great event and I am looking forward driving into the sunset!"
Teams and drivers now have the afternoon to prepare for this evening’s 1,000km race, which is scheduled to get underway at 17.45 local time. The event will run for a maximum of six hours if the full distance is not met in that time. Live streaming of the weekend's proceedings will be available on the Blancpain GT Series website.