Tom Onslow-Cole took pole position for this afternoon’s International GT Open race at Barcelona in the #20 SPS Automotive Mercedes.
Mikkel Mac qualified fifth in the #51 Luzich Racing Ferrari, putting the Dane well clear of title rivals Fran Rueda and Andrés Saravia, who will only start 16th for the penultimate race of the season in the #47 Teo Martin BMW.
Following a damp early morning, conditions were primarily dry, but exceedingly slippery off-line, for this 30 minute session.
With 30 cars on track, there was no clear pace-setter in the early going. However, after 10 minutes, it was an Imperiale Lamborghini top two, with Rik Breukers (#25) top on a 1:44.057, and Jeroen Mul (#63) joining him on the provisional front row.
Damiano Fioravanti was on a great lap, taking two tenths out of pole in the first sector.
However, Mario Plachutta (#72 Lechner Mercedes), who had just re-joined from a spin, came unstuck again directly ahead of the #12 Ombra Racing car at turn 10, the kink directly following La Caixa.
Seconds later, the session was red-flagged within touching distance of the half-waypoint, because Andrea Montermini lost control of the #11 RS Racing Ferrari at Turn 4, Repsol, and made contact with the barriers. The pause lasted roughly five minutes while the bruised 488 GT3 was recovered.
After the session went live again, Fioravanti avenged the earlier lost lap by going top with a 1:43.671. This time would remain as the benchmark for some time, but with five minutes to go, Tom Onslow-Cole went top on a 1:43.404.
The drivers were clearly chipping away as the track rubbered in, with the likes of Fabrizio Crestani improving. Crestani, in the #27 Daiko Lazarus Lamborghini, was provisionally second with a 1:43.496 with three minutes to go.
However, with several gravel excursions for drivers pushing the limit in the closing stages, times did not improve in the final stages of the session.
As such, Onslow-Cole and Crestani will lead the field from an all PRO-AM front row this afternoon, ahead of the leading PRO drivers, Damiano Fioravanti and Rik Breukers. The front row also represents the PRO-AM title race, with Crestani and Miguel Ramos currently ten points clear of Onslow-Cole and Valentin Pierburg at the top of the standings.
Mikkel Mac will be joined on row three by Mateusz Lisowski in the #77 Olimp Racing Audi R8, the team making its GT Open return following an appearance at the Hungaroring earlier in the season.
Stefano Constantini will lead away the AM field from 19th in the #91 Target Lamborghini.
With just three points separating Mac from Rueda and Saravia, and the Teo Martin BMW duo starting in the mid-pack, the pendulum of this year’s title race could swing for the final time in this afternoon’s race, which starts at 15:40 local time.