Alessandro Balzan used home advantage to claim pole position for the Porsche Supercup race at Monza.
A guest driver from the Porsche Carrera Cup Italia, Balzan was just a shade under four tenths clear of nearest rival and points leader Rene Rast. The reigning champion had relegated Kevin Estre to third spot.
“I'm of course very pleased with my pole position,” said Balzan. “This is just my first Supercup race this year and I'm not as familiar with the car and above all the brakes as the other drivers. Still, I already had a good feeling after free practice, mostly because we found a good brake balance.
“During qualifying I didn't go flat out right from the first lap, but warmed up my tyres gradually and waited for my chance. When I saw I had a free lap I went for it and set the best time with my first set of rubber.”
Rast said: “That was a very difficult qualifying, so I'm very satisfied with my second place. With the first set of tyres I simply didn't manage a decent time, but then everything came together with the second set. Now I'm hoping for a good race and I'm already looking forward to the finale in Abu Dhabi.”
Estre added: “My third place is a very good starting position for the race, especially here in Monza. We're happy with this result, most of all because things didn't go so well for us recently in Spa. I now hope we can do as well in the race, and perhaps I can bring home my first podium result in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.”
Sean Edwards was fourth quickest, just ahead of Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit teammate Jeroen Bleekemolen. Norbert Siedler was sixth, with Kuba Giermaziak, the winner of the last two races at the Hungaroring and Spa, only seventh. Nicki Thiim was eighth, ahead of a disappointed Nick Tandy with Sebastiaan Bleekemolen rounding out the top ten.
1. Alessandro Balzan (I), Ebimotors, 1:50.658 minutes
2. RenÃ© Rast (D), VELTINS Lechner Racing, + 0.399 seconds
3. KÃ©vin Estre (F), Hermes Attempto Racing, + 0.412
4. Sean Edwards (GB), Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit, + 0.426
5. Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL), Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit, + 0.469
6. Norbert Siedler (A), VELTINS Lechner Racing, + 0.586