The Endurance Cup title battle intensified in this morning's qualifying session at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where Orange1 FFF Racing secured a fourth pole from five races and took a crucial bonus point in the process.
Mirko Bortolotti was fastest in Q1 by a considerable margin, while Marco Mapelli repeated the trick in Q2. In both instances, the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG was second on the timing screens, with Raffaele Marciello at the wheel in Q1 and Felipe Fraga handling the controls in Q2.
The FFF crew held a healthy advantage ahead of Q3, but a superb lap from Jules Gounon in the #88, coupled with a less than perfect run for Andrea Caldarelli, cut the deficit to just 0.009s. But after a few nervous moments in the FFF garage it became clear that the Frenchman could not make a further improvement, ensuring that the #63 Lamborghini scored an unprecedented fourth pole of the season.
The #88 Mercedes-AMG will line-up second for the third time this term, keeping the AKKA ASP squad in the title hunt. Among the other title contenders, the #32 Team WRT Audi will start 10th, while the championship-leading #51 Iron Lynx Ferrari could only manage 11th on the grid. Indeed, were the race to finish in the same order as qualifying, the FFF crew would snatch the title. It sets up a fascinating race this afternoon, with all four contenders capable of clinching the crown.
Third on the grid went to the #22 GPX Martini Racing Porsche of Campbell/Bamber/Jaminet, while the #7 Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG was a fine fourth overall and secured pole for the Silver Cup class thanks to Marvin Dienst, Berkay Besler and Oscar Tunjo. The championship-leading #14 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini will start 15th overall and fourth in class, one spot ahead of the rival #99 Attempto Racing Audi.
In Pro-Am, Sky Tempesta Racing took a step towards the title by securing class pole and adding a further bonus point. The crew of Froggatt/Hui/Mastronardi narrowly beat the #20 SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes-AMG, while the rival #19 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini will start third in class. The invitational entries from Audi (#26 Saintéloc Racing) and BMW (#82 BMW Motorsport) qualified 12th and 17th respectively.
The season-deciding Endurance Cup race will get underway at 15:00 CEST. All of the action will be streamed live on the official series website and social media platforms, as well as the GTWorld and GTWorld Français YouTube channels.