Belgian duo Maxime Martin and Bertrand Baguette sealed a superb pole position in a gripping qualifying session in Beijing in the FIA GT1 world championship.
The Marc VDS Ford GT drivers beat the Young Driver Aston Martins of Darren Turner/Stefan MÃ¼cke and Tomas Enge/Alex Muller into second and third.
Fourth was the drivers’ championship contenders Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock in the All-Inkl.com MÃ¼nnich Motorsport Lamborghini.
Martin was delighted with the pole position and hopes their pace transfers to the race. He said: “This performance is really great for the whole team. We knew the track would be quite good for the Fords.
“For sure, with 40 kilos it is not so easy, but we are proud to be on pole here in Beijing and it will be great for the race tomorrow.
“It’s great to work with Bertrand [Baguette] again, he is a professional driver so it is great for us to continue with him after our race together in Spain.”
The session was red-flagged twice to allow stricken cars to be dragged from the unforgiving Goldenport gravel traps. The tight layout tested the mettle of the GT1 pack.
All five GT1 brands were represented in the top eight. There were mixed results for the Team China Corvettes. The car of Michael Rossi and the returning Nico Verdonck wowed the home fans by qualifying a splendid fifth.
Ho-Pin Tung and Jeroen Den Boer were eliminated in Q2 and could only manage 11th place.
The nimble Ford GT’s liking for the challenging Goldenport circuit was underlined with sixth place for the second Marc VDS Ford GT of Bas Leinders and Marc Hennerici and seventh for the Belgian Racing entry of Jonathan Hirschi and Christoffer Nygaard.
Jamie Campbell-Walter and David Brabham in the Sumo Power were the best of the Nissans in eighth.
It was not a good day for the other GT-Rs, particularly the Championship leaders Lucas Luhr and Michael Krumm. Qualifying ended abruptly for the pair after 12 minutes when Luhr stuck it in the gravel at the end of turn one.
The Germans were classified 16th while the JRM Nissan of Richard Westbrook and Peter Dumbreck was ninth having just missed the cut for Q3.
The Sumo Power Nissan GT-R of Nick Catsburg and Enrique Bernoldi did not make it out for Qualifying after Catsburg damaged the front end of the car in an off-track excursion in Free Practice. The team is hopeful of making tomorrow’s Qualifying Race.
Hexis Aston Martin’s Stef Dusseldorp (Clivio Piccione), third in the Championship Race in Ordos, also ended in the gravel at T13 in Q1 and took no further part in proceedings. The car finished last of the 17 runners.