Darryl O?Young and Alessio Picariello scored a double pole position for Craft-Bamboo Racing and Mercedes-AMG during Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia qualifying at Buriram earlier today, while class honours went to BMW Team Studie?s Takayuki Kinoshita and iRace.Win?s Ringo Chong.
Two laps good enough for Race 1 pole ensured O?Young and Craft-Bamboo made the perfect start to GT3 qualifying.
Championship leader Tanart Sathienthirakul was the first to set a meaningful time before OpenRoad Racing debutant Philippe Descombes bettered it. However, a sensational Am pole position against the Pros was denied by O?Young who initially moved half-a-tenth clear before extending the final margin to 0.157s.
Descombes? Porsche lines up alongside the Mercedes-AMG but has been switched from Am/Am to Pro/Am status following such a strong qualifying performance.
Sepang pole-winner Yuan Bo starts right behind in Absolute Racing?s #912 Porsche after the Chinese driver edged team-mate Sathienthirakul by just 0.008s. Two more Absolute-run entries, the Audi Sport Asia R8 LMS GT3 driven by Weiron Tan and Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak?s Panther/AAS Motorsport Porsche, share row three.
The Solite Indigo Racing Mercedes-AMG and HubAuto Ferrari will be hoping to make ground from seventh and eighth, while Piti Bhirombhakdi?s ABSSA McLaren and Alex Au?s VSR Lamborghini complete the top-10.
GT4 arguably provided greater drama despite its fewer number of cars and potential pole candidates, although it was still a familiar name that emerged on pole.
BMW Team Studie?s Takayuki Kinoshita didn?t have things all his own way thanks to Brian Lee who rebounded from an early track limits infringement to claim provisional pole. His Japanese rival soon responded, and although the GTO Racing with TTR driver improved, it wasn?t enough to deny Kinoshita back-to-back poles. 0.164s separated them at the session?s conclusion.
Frank Yu?s last gasp effort helped Craft-Bamboo?s Mercedes-AMG pinch third from Setiawan Santoso after the pair had battled throughout, while debutant Angelo Negro beat Munkong Sathienthirakul to fifth.
The star of GT3?s second qualifying session was undoubtedly Alessio Picariello who set not one but three times fast enough for pole. His best of 1m32.731s was 0.737s quicker than anyone else, while the same margin as first to second also covered positions second to 11th!
With Craft-Bamboo?s #88 Mercedes-AMG seemingly in a league of its own, the rest of the Pros were left scrapping for second. Panther/AAS Motorsport?s Alexandre Imperatori looked most likely to achieve that before one final flying lap helped Triple Eight?s Jazeman Jaafar circulate just 0.024s quicker.
Imperatori?s Porsche starts behind the two Mercedes-AMGs and alongside local star Kantasak Kusiri whose Singha Plan-B by Absolute Racing Audi out-qualified team-mates Franky Cheng and Martin Rump. The three R8s completed the top-six.
The Porsches of Chris van der Drift (JRM) and championship leader Philip Hamprecht (Absolute Racing) share row four while Manuel Metzger and Benny Simonsen also start inside the top-10.
In GT4, Ringo Chong beat Sunako Jukuchou and Jean-Marc Merlin to pole following a fantastic scrap that saw all three separated by only 0.195s.
iRace.Win?s Chong set the early pace before lowering his benchmark to 1m44.718s, which Jukuchou was unable to match following a track limits infringement. The BMW Team Studie M4 ended up 0.041s adrift, while Merlin also suggested Craft-Bamboo?s Mercedes-AMG will be in the mix after matching his co-driver?s position.
Tony Fong starts fourth in the GTO Racing with TTR Mercedes-AMG, while Alan Yeo and Preeda Tantemsapya completed the top-six.