Qualifying for this weekend's Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe double-header at Misano produced standout performances from the championship's established star and an impressive new contender.
In race one, 18-year-old Charles Weerts (Belgian Audi Club Team WRT) will lead the field away after delivering a rapid lap aboard the #2 Audi R8 LMS. In race two, reigning champion Raffaele Marciello (AKKA ASP) will occupy pole position after a faultless qualifying showing from the #88 Mercedes-AMG driver.
It sets up a fascinating pair of races at the Italian venue, the first of which takes place at 19.45 on Saturday evening followed by a second run at 14.00 on Sunday.
Weerts flies to race 1 pole
Weerts is part of a shuffled line-up at WRT this weekend, competing alongside fellow countryman Dries Vanthoor, and the new arrangement seemed to suit the 18-year-old well.
The youngster looked quick from the start of the opening qualifying session, which was red-flagged at the eight-minute mark after the #555 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini found itself beached in the gravel.
When running resumed top spot swapped hands a number of times before Weerts hit the front with a lap of 1m34.227s. Despite an impressive effort by Ricky Collard (R-Motorsport) in the #76 Aston Martin, the teenager could not be toppled.
Collard remained second through to the chequered flag, securing an excellent result in the process, while local favourite Andrea Caldarelli took third in the #563 FFF Lamborghini.
The Silver Cup class was topped by Nico Bastian in the #89 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG as the German bids to back up the double victory he took at the Brands Hatch opener alongside Thomas Nuebauer. The sister #90 car was second in class courtesy of Timur Boguslavskiy
Nyls Stievenart (Sainteloc Racing) delivered one of the most impressive performances of his young career in the #24 Audi, beating a strong set of Pro-Am competitors to class pole. Indeed, the Frenchman was a full 0.7s clear of his nearest opposition.
The Am Cup order was topped by Florian Scholze in the #444 HB Racing Ferrari. The Austrian consistently led the class in free practice and duly secured pole for race 1.
Marciello leads AKKA ASP domination of Q2 in #88 Mercedes-AMG
After a difficult start to the 2019 campaign, Marciello and teammate Vincent Abril will have the opportunity to win from the front this evening following an inch-perfect qualifying showing by the Italian.
Maricello was quickest during the first flurry of laps and then went faster again during the second run, securing pole with a time of 1m33.595s.
Dries Vanthoor will line-up second – completing an excellent qualifying performance for the #2 WRT Audi crew – after an eventful session. The Belgian's first lap was affected by traffic, but a superb final effort bumped the youngster on to the front row. Fellow Audi factory ace Christopher Haase was third in his Sainteloc-run R8 LMS.
Fourth overall and on pole for the Silver Cup class was Fabian Schiller, who was consistently towards the top of the order in his #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG. It was a session worth celebrating for the French squad, with Jim Pla securing Pro-Am pole in its #87 Mercedes-AMG.
Wolfgang Triller completed HB Racing's domination of the Am Cup class. The German was almost a second clear of the opposition in his #444 Ferrari, completing an excellent afternoon's work for the squad.