Ferrari is on pole for the opening round of the new look GT1 World Championship at Nagaro in France.
Finnish driver Toni Vilander put the AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia grabbed pole early ahead of the WRT Audis of Stephane Ortelli/Laurens Vanthoor and Frank Stippler/Oliver Jarvis.
“First of all it is good to be in the championship,” Vilander said. “Even in the testing I found many very good drivers, great cars and great teams so I think it’s going to be a very tight year. I only got to know Filip (Salaquarda) on Monday and we started to build our confidence together.
“These cars are a bit special to drive, ABS and stuff like that is completely new to me. I am looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully we have the pace to get a good result.”
Mercedes will start out of fourth place with the Munnich Mercedes of Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock just ahead of the second AF Corse Ferrari of Francesco Castellacci and Enzo Ide.
The N.Pastorelli/T.Jäger All-inkl.com Münnich Motorsport Mercedes fills the sixth sport on the grid ahead of the The Rieter Lamborghini of von Thurn und Taxis/Enge.
2011 teams’ champions Hexis Racing had a tough day at Nogaro. The French squad had starter motor problems with both of their McLaren GT MP4-12Cs. As a consequence the No.2 car of Alvaro Parente and Gregoire Demoustier was 8th and the No.1 of Frederic Makowiecki and Stef Dusseldorp could manage only 14th.
The BMWs looked a million dollars but their performance was a bit disappointing. The BMWs finished 11th and 12th with the No.17 Vita4One Z4 of Nicolaus Mayr-Melnhof and Mathias Lauda shading team-mates Michael Bartels and Yelmer Buurman.
Frenchman Mike Parisy and New Zealand’s Matt Halliday took their Exim Bank Team China Porsche No.9 to ninth place with the second Porsche of Benjamin Lariche and China’s Ren Wei a lowly 15th.
The quickest of the Team Russia Aston Martins, the No.7 shared by Maxime Martin and Alexey Vasiliev will start in 13th place while the Sunred Ford GT No.10 of Milos Pavlovic and Matteo Cressoni will start at the back of the grid just ahead of the second Aston of Andreas Zuber and Sergey Afanasyev.