Alvaro Parente claimed pole position for ART Grand Prix and McLaren at the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Paul Ricard.
The Portuguese driver was 0.332 seconds clear of the rest of the field in the #98 car that won the season opener at Monza. Nicolas Lapierre has replaced his former A1 Grand Prix-winning team-mate Alexandre Premat alongside Parente and Gregoire Demoustier for the French race, which will be run on Saturday evening.
“This is a good track for our car, I am really happy for the team that we were able to conquer pole again,” said Parente.
“It will be a tough race, but together with our new team-mate Nicolas Lapierre we should be able to perform well. We will have to be careful during the closing stages of the race though, because if it is really dark by the end of the race, this track might catch you out. A good set of headlights is certainly a good thing around here.”
Stef Dusseldorp secured a place on the front row for the #85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes he shares with Lucas Wolf and Sergei Afanasiev. The Dutch driver was just one thousandth of a second quicker than Nissan GT Academy Team RJN driver Alex Buncombe, who will start third with gaming graduates Nick McMillen and Florian Strauss.
Nick Catsburg qualified the TDS Racing BMW he shares with Henry Hassid up in fourth place. The second RJN Nissan will start fifth courtesy of Pro Japanese driver Katsumasa Chiyo, who leads his crew with GT Academy drivers Stanislav Aksenov and Miguel Faisca.
Nicholas Armindo put the second TDS BMW he shares with Eric Clement and Benjamin Lariche into sixth ahead of the first of the two Bentleys. Antoine Leclerc qualified the #8 car also driven by Jerome D’Ambrosio and Duncan Tappy in seventh, with the sister Silverstone-winning #7 of Steven Kane, Guy Smith and Andy Meyrick ninth in the hands of the Northern Irishman.
Inbetween them on the grid in eighth will be the Sainteloc Racing Audi of Stephane Ortelli, Edward Sandstrom and Gregory Guilvert. The top ten will be completed by the Scuderia Villorba Ferrari of Andrea Rizzoli, Stefano Gai and Francesco Castellacci.