Thomas Neubauer will start tonight's GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Sprint Cup opener at Misano from pole position in the #15 Tech 1 Racing Lexus, while Raffaele Maricello will lead the field away in tomorrow morning's second contest.
Rising star Neubauer, who is contesting the Silver Cup class alongside fellow countryman Aurelien Panis, took on the established front-runners in the first qualifying session to clinch his maiden overall pole. For Marciello, securing top spot is a more familiar achievement. Indeed, this is the third year in succession that the Italian ace has claimed pole position at Misano.
While Neubauer has not previously started from pole, he is already a race winner. The Frenchman took a stunning overall triumph on his series debut at Brands Hatch last term and showed the same turn of speed in this afternoon's opening qualifying session. His best effort of 1m32.124s edged out Jules Gounon (#107 CMR Bentley) by just 0.035s and guaranteed an all-French front row for race 1.
Another French driver was next as Jim Pla swept to third in his #89 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG. His 1m32.601s lap also ensured that two Silver Cup cars will start among the overall top-three. Charles Weerts took fourth in the #32 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT machine, followed by impressive newcomer Ryuichiro Tomita in the sister #31 entry. Louis Machiels topped the Pro-Am order, putting his #52 AF Corse Ferrari an excellent 16th on the overall grid.
The second session saw Marciello extend his unbeaten qualifying run at Misano and secure pole for tomorrow's race 2. The #88 Mercedes-AMG was fastest out of the blocks before Nelson Panciatici put the #107 CMR Bentley top, but Marciello had extra pace in reserve and delivered an unbeatable 1m31.841s lap.
Kelvin van der Linde (#31 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT) came closest to matching the benchmark, circulating within 0.151s of the AKKA ASP man to earn second on the race 2 grid. Maro Engel was third in the #4 HRT Mercedes-AMG, while Albert Costa delivered the best showing from a Lamborghini to put his #163 Emil Frey Racing machine fourth. Next came a trio of Audis – the #32 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, #25 Sainteloc Racing and #55 Attempto Racing – while erstwhile leader Panciatici eventually took eighth in his maiden qualifying session.
Simon Gachet bagged Silver Cup pole in the #26 Sainteloc Audi, recording the ninth-best time overall, while Eddie Cheever III secured top spot in Pro-Am at the wheel of Sky Tempesta Racing's #93 Ferrari. The full results can be viewed via the links at the bottom of this page.
Today's sessions set the grids for race 1 (Saturday at 19.15) and race 2 (Sunday at 11.20). A further qualifying will run tomorrow morning at 09.00, which establishes the starting order for the concluding race 3 (Sunday at 15.00). All of the action will be streamed live on the GT World Challenge Europe website and Facebook pages, as well as the GT World YouTube channel.