Rene Rast has taken pole position for the qualifying race at the opening FIA GT Series round at Nogaro in France in the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 he shares in the Pro-Am category with Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof.
The triple Porsche Supercup champion edged out the pair of Sebastien Loeb Racing McLarens in the Superpole session. Local ace Mike Parisy was just nine thousandths of a second away from Rast in the #10 car he shares with Andreas Zuber, while Sebastien Loeb’s co-driver Alvaro Parente was third.
“I am very happy with this qualifying effort,” said Rast. “We had difficult conditions on track, first qualifying was dry then we had laps on some damp and I must say that we had a very good strategy, the WRT guys did a great job and I am looking forward to the ‘qualifying race’ tomorrow. For me this is all new, but I am really happy so far.”
The two Pro class WRT Audis completed the top five, with Frank Stippler fourth in the car he shares with Edward Sandstrom, and Stephane Ortelli fifth after his co-driver Laurens Vanthoor had set the fastest time of the opening two segments, where the quickest ten cars went through to the pole position shootout.
Cesar Campanico took sixth overall and second in Pro-Am in his Novadriver Audi, ahead of the best of the BMW Team Brazil car in the hands of multiple Stock Car champion Caca Bueno. Alex Buncombe put the best of the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN cars in eighth ahead of the Phoenix Racing Audi of Anthony Kumpen.
European GT3 champion Maximilian Buhk had been quickest in his HTP Gravity Charouz Mercedes in Q1, but although co-driver Alon Day was then tenth in Q2, the car did not go out in Superpole and will start from P10.
World Cup-winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez claimed the Gentleman Trophy pole position, 18th in the SOFREV-ASP Ferrari he shares with Gerard Tonelli.
“I am really happy to be there,” said Barthez. “Qualifying went very well, we managed to bring the car back in the pits and get P1 too. The weather was tough, but we adapted and it is part of the race, it helps to get more experimental and that is why we are here. Driving with all these great drivers is an honour for me.”
Former GP2 racer Fabio Onidi crashed the AF Corse Ferrari on his out-lap at the start of his first GT qualifying session, and the damage caused has ruled his car out for the rest of the weekend.
The qualifying race takes place on Sunday with the main championship race on Monday.