Defending winner ROWE Racing will start the Nürburgring 24 from pole position after Nick Yelloly tamed soaking wet conditions to post the fastest lap time in Top Qualifying.
Yelloly, who shares the No. 1 BMW M6 GT3 with Nicky Catsburg, John Edwards and Philipp Eng, produced a 10:01.619 on his second flying lap attempt to clinch the pole.
The British driver went 2.3 seconds clear of erstwhile provisional pole-sitter Axcil Jefferies, whose Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo will start alongside the ROWE BMW on the front row of the 122-car grid on Saturday afternoon.
Yelloly initially went quickest on his first attempt – a 10:05.679 – but dropped behind Jefferies who dived to the pits for a new set of wet-weather tires after his out-lap.
The Konrad driver raised the bar with a charging 10:03.927, but only had time for a single effort while Yelloly had a second opportunity to improve up his sleeve.
Yelloly, who won last year’s N24 with Catsburg and Alexander Sims, took several seconds off his initial banker to secure the top spot for the ROWE race team which is run by Motorsport Competence Group.
Manuel Metzger qualified third in the No. 4 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo that will share row two of the grid with Schubert Motorsport’s BMW qualified by Jesse Krohn.
Metzger’s HRT teammate Nico Bastian came through in fifth, nine seconds off Yelloly’s pole figure, while GetSpeed Performance drivers Raffaele Marciello and Moritz Kranz followed in sixth and seventh to put four Mercedes-AMGs in the top seven grid slots.
The highest-qualifying Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo was the No. 11 Phoenix Racing privateer machine in eighth. Nicki Thiim managed a 10:14.271 to position Audi’s top entry three-tenths head of the best Porsche 911 GT3 R from Rutronik Racing’s Julien Andlauer.
Max Hesse, who was the first driver to go out in the Top Qualifying batch, placed 10th for the BMW Junior Team on its SP9 category debut.
Kevin Estre and Dennis Olsen were 11th and 12th for Manthey Racing and Frikadelli Racing Team, which are the only two teams to have won at the Nordschleife so far this year.
The Audi Sport Team official cars from Land-Motorsport and Phoenix Racing trailed those two Porsches, with Kelvin van der Linde leading from Frank Stippler.
Stippler jumped into the No. 15 Phoenix factory-supported Audi after his co-driver Dries Vanthoor set the fastest lap in Top Qualifying 1, which offered four berths into Top Qualifying 2.
Vanthoor made a blistering 8:12.319 run, the best time of the event so far, to lead from Maro Engel in the No. 6 HRT Mercedes-AMG, Augusto Farfus in the Junior Team BMW and Marco Mapelli in the Hankook FFF Racing Team Lamborghini.
Those cars advanced to the pole session, however FFF elected not to take part in Top Qualifying 2. The same applied to the Pro-Am entries from Phoenix Racing and Walkenhorst Motorsport.
Notable cars to miss out on Top Qualifying 2 included the No. 2 Audi Sport Team Car Collection R8, the No. 98 ROWE Racing BMW, both Falken Motorsports Porsches and the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020s from Octane 126, Racing One and WTM/Phoenix.
Top Qualifying 1 was held in largely dry conditions, but heavy rain enveloped the circuit before the start of Top Qualifying 2, leading to slower times in the latter session.