Team WRT Audi driver Charles Weerts claimed the first pole position of the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup season at Magny-Cours.
Defending co-champion Weerts steered the No. 32 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo to a fastest lap of 1:36.133 that set the Belgian driver on pole for this evening’s 60-minute race.
Weerts, whose co-driver Dries Vanthoor led both practice sessions on Friday, hit the top of the leaderboard in the early stages of the 20-minute qualifying session with a 1:36.567 that he subsequently shaved down in the face of challenges from several rivals.
His ultimate low 1m 36s flyer ended up beating Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini drivers Ricardo Feller and Arthur Rougier to the top spot by less than two-tenths of a second.
Feller was moved across to the No. 163 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo in a late driver lineup change for the Swiss team that also saw Rougier drafted into the No. 14 crew.
Rougier’s time of 1:36.270 was good enough for the Silver Cup class pole position and third on the overall grid, but the Frenchman couldn’t quite beat his counterpart Feller who earned a front-row grid spot with a 1:36.238 submission.
A late charge from Patrick Kujula saw the Rinaldi Racing driver climb to fourth in the German team’s Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 that is also competing in Silver Cup.
Ezequiel Companc made it three Silver cars in the top five, as the Madpanda Motorsport driver and team principal produced a 1:36.368 in the No. 90 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
Companc led a group of four Mercedes-AMGs, with 2020 Magny-Cours race one pole-sitter Luca Stolz finishing a tenth behind in sixth for Toksport WRT, ahead of his teammate Oscar Tunjo and AKKA-ASP’s Timur Boguslavskiy in the No. 88 Evo Mercedes.
The second-quickest Audi was the Silver Cup car from WRT in ninth, courtesy of Frank Bird who ended up marginally ahead of Tomasso Mosca in the No. 99 Attempto Racing Pro machine.
Bentley’s fastest representative was Ulysse de Pauw who set the Silver-entered No. 107 CMR Continental GT3 eighth in class and 16th overall.
The JOTA McLaren 720S GT3 qualified 22nd out of 27 in the hands of Ollie Wilkinson.
Alexander West claimed Pro-Am category pole honors in the No. 188 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with a time of 1:38.086 against his fellow Bronze-rated drivers.
West lapped just 0.028 seconds faster than Miguel Ramos in the second-placed Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini, from SPS Automotive Performance’s Valentin Pierburg.
The first race of the GTWC Europe Sprint Cup season is due to start at 10:25 p.m. CEST (4:25 p.m. EST).
RESULTS: Qualifying 1 (provisional)