Porsche’s Nick Tandy secured pole position for the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli season finale during a wet Kyalami 9 Hour Pole Shootout in South Africa.
Frikadelli’s 911 GT3 R, which also features championship contender Dennis Olsen, finished 0.045s ahead of another title protagonist, Christopher Haase, whose Land Motorsport Audi initially set the pace.
Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ championship leaders Mercedes-AMG and Maxi Buhk start third courtesy of Raffaele Marciello whose car was repaired overnight, while the Spa-winning GPX Racing Porsche driven by Richard Lietz and another title contender – Dinamic Motorsport’s Matt Campbell – completed the top-five.
BMW Team Schnitzer’s BMW, the Honda Team Motul NSX and KCMG Nissan also featured in the Pole Shootout, which followed three 15-minute qualifying sessions.
The first two were held in dry conditions, albeit with a thunderstorm fast approaching from Johannesburg. And the heavens duly opened at the start of Q3.
Honda Team Motul headed into the final session on top thanks to Marco Bonanomi and Bertrand Baguette whose average time was just 0.07s faster than KCMG’s #35 Nissan. However, that all changed in the wet when Josh Burdon helped co-drivers Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Katsumasa Chiyo to claim qualifying bragging rights.
Further back, BMW Team Schnitzer scraped into the Shootout by 0.013s at the expense of KCMG’s other GT-R NISMO GT3. Title contenders Dirk Werner (KUS Team 75 Bernhard) and Frederic Vervisch (Audi Sport Team WRT) also failed to make the cut along with full-season Intercontinental manufacturers Bentley and Ferrari.
The track remained wet for a Pole Shootout in which the top-10 cars had their times reset. And with rain no longer falling, a drying track would reward those who saved their best for last.
Marciello and Sheldon van der Linde took it in turns to set the early pace before Haase’s Audi joined the party. Three consecutive fastest laps left the German firmly in control as the clock ticked towards zero.
But Tandy was about to make the most of his Shootout opportunity after somehow progressing from Q3 despite a trip into Clubhouse’s tyre barrier. He spent his first laps getting up to speed before unseating Haase with his final two attempts. The German responded late on but ultimately fell 0.045s shy of Tandy’s 1m52.825s.
Marciello finished 0.261s behind the Porsche but will have been relieved to set a time at all after GruppeM’s mechanics rebuilt the car overnight following Thursday’s heavy testing accident.
Porsche’s pursuit of Mercedes-AMG in the Manufacturers’ standings was bolstered by Lietz who qualified fourth, while Campbell – who, along with Olsen, starts 10 points behind Drivers’ championship leader Buhk – heads up row three.
Van der Linde climbed four places from qualifying to give BMW sixth, but there was less luck for R-Motorsport’s #76 Aston Martin which was demoted five spots for an unsafe release at the start of Q2.
Honda Team Motul therefore inherit seventh, the NSX proving less potent in the wet than dry, while championship contender Maxi Goetz (SPS Automotive Performance) moves up to eighth.
KCMG’s Nissan, which topped qualifying, also struggled in the wet en route to ninth. Ironically, #35 now lines up alongside its stablemate on row five following the Aston Martin’s penalty.
Intercontinental’s Kyalami 9 Hour season finale is live on the championship’s website and Facebook page, SRO’s GT World Youtube channel, and across South Africa on SuperSport TV from 13:00 local time tomorrow.