Orange1 FFF Racing put Lamborghini on pole after a titanic qualifying battle at Monza set up a classic season-opening Endurance Cup race this afternoon.
In what might be the series' most competitive field yet, the #63 crew of Andrea Caldarelli, Mirko Bortolotti and Marco Mapelli emerged quickest by 0.007s on average times. Lamborghini returnee Bortolotti topped Q1 while Mapelli was fifth in Q2, leaving the team second ahead of the final session.
Andrea Caldarelli ran last and, after initially hitting traffic, posted a time good enough for third in Q3 and overall pole position. It represents FFF's first overall pole in the series and Lamborghini's first in almost two years.
Caldarelli/Bortolotti/Mapelli narrowly edged out another all-star crew as AKKA ASP's #88 Mercedes-AMG came within a few thousandths of snatching pole. Raffaele Marciello and Daniel Juncadella had done enough for fourth ahead of the final session, while an incredible lap from Jules Gounon gave the French outfit a serious shot at top spot.
The newly-signed Mercedes-AMG factory driver produced a 1m46.442s lap – the fastest across all three sessions – to book the #88 car's spot on the front row, just 0.007s shy of the Lamborghini. They will go in search of Mercedes' maiden Monza win this afternoon.
Third went to the #71 Iron Lynx Ferrari, which had topped the order ahead of Q3. Antonio Fuoco and Callum Ilott both showed superb pace, but with Davide Rigon unable to find a clear lap the crew were shuffled down to P3. The #32 Team WRT Audi will start alongside them in fourth, followed by the #22 GPX Racing Porsche and the #163 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini, completing a hugely competitive top-six.
Seventh overall went to the #14 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini, which will also start from Silver Cup pole after an outstanding showing from the all-Swiss crew of Alex Fontana, Rold Ineichen and Ricardo Feller. They looked fully at home among the overall front-runners and will start four places clear of their closest class rivals.
Pro-Am pole went to inception racing after a superb debut showing from the British squad. The #70 McLaren ran brilliantly with Ollie Millroy and Brendan Iribe at the wheel, the latter competing in Q2 and Q3. They edged out the #107 CMR Bentley by just 0.014s, setting up another excellent contest this afternoon. Full session times can viewed here.
A field of 42 cars will take the start following the withdrawal of the Allied-Racing Porsche that crashed in yesterday's pre-qualifying session. The German squad will be back on the grid for next month's Sprint Cup opener at Magny-Cours. This afternoon's season-opening race begins at 15.00 and will be broadcast live across the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS social media platforms, including the GT World YouTube channel.