Weerts snatches pole for Team WRT Audi as McLaren and Mercedes-AMG rise to the challenge in Misano qualifying

Weerts snatches pole for Team WRT Audi as McLaren and Mercedes-AMG rise to the challenge in Misano qualifying

Charles Weerts will start this afternoon's Fanatec Sprint race at Misano from pole after the Team WRT Audi driver topped a close-fought qualifying session at the Italian track.

Though the result itself was not a shock, there was more competition at the front of the pack than had been expected. Indeed, it had seemed certain that Audi would dominate after its cars led the way in both free practice and pre-qualifying. By the halfway mark in this morning's session they held the first six positions – but that would soon change.

The first non-Audi interloper was Vince Abril, who once again caught the eye with his one-lap speed at the wheel of the #112 JP Motorsport McLaren. He edged ahead of Weerts with a 1m31.301s and for a time it looked as though the Monegasque might cause an upset. 

Then the Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG contenders came alive as Timur Boguslavskiy slotted into second and Jim Pla snatched third. Having languished outside the top-10 at the halfway point in the session, this was a fine comeback from the French squad. 

But Team WRT still had something in reserve and, on his final run, Weerts beat Abril to top spot by just 0.033s, banking a crucial bonus point in the process. Already a five-time winner at Misano with teammate Dries Vanthoor, Weerts can feel very confident of making it six this afternoon.

Abril will line up second – just as he did last time out at Zandvoort – while the Akkodis ASP boys will share the second row. Fifth spot went to the star of qualifying, 16-year-old Lorenzo Patrese (Tresor by Car Collection Audi), who on his Fanatec Sprint debut managed a time good enough for fifth on the grid, beating his more experienced teammate Simon Gachet by 0.082s. 

The Silver Cup leaders will share row four. Thomas Neuabuer edged class pole in the #30 Team WRT, beating championship leader Pierre-Alexandre Jean (#53 AF Corse Ferrari) by 0.012s. The #26 Saintéloc Junior Team Audi took third in class and 11th overall. Miguel Ramos (#188 Garage 59 McLaren) led the way in Pro-Am, putting a Pro car between himself and class rival Patryk Krupinski (#111 JP Motorsport McLaren). 

This afternoon's race gets underway at 15:00 CEST. Live coverage will be broadcast on the GT World YouTube channel and across social media, with commentary available in English, German, French and Italian.