Team Honda Racing will start the 2020 Kyalami 9 Hour from pole position after Mario Farnbacher set a new qualifying lap record ahead of tomorrow’s Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli championship showdown.
The German, who shares the NSX GT3 with Renger van der Zande and Bertrand Baguette, beat home favourites Jordan Pepper (Bentley Team M-Sport) and Sheldon van der Linde (Walkenhorst Motorsport, BMW) in the six-car Pole Shootout, which also featured Audi and Porsche.
But it was a tough afternoon for championship leaders Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor whose Dinamic Motorsport 911 could manage no better than 10th.
UNSTOPPABLE NSX BLITZES GT3 POLE RECORD
Fastest in Pre-Qualifying. Then Qualifying proper. And finally in the session that really mattered: the sole Honda had a day to remember at Kyalami where Mario Farnbacher was simply untouchable en route to fastest time in the Pole Shootout.
The NSX had earlier topped the combined Qualifying session thanks to the joint efforts of Bertrand Baguette, Renger van der Zande and Farnbacher who, in Q3, became the first driver to ever record a sub-1m42s lap around Kyalami.
He then lowered that again by four tenths in the individual Pole Shootout when Jordan Pepper and Sheldon van der Linde emerged as serious threats to the Honda’s dominance. But Farnbacher had saved his best for last and unleashed a 1m41.581s midway through the 15-minute session to beat the Bentley by 0.142s.
Van der Linde improved late on but remained 0.310s shy of pole.
The remaining contenders finished some way adrift of the top-three. Christopher Haase’s factory Car Collection Audi emerged 0.04s clear of GPX Racing’s Porsche driven by Matt Campbell, who lies second in the standings with co-drivers Patrick Pilet and Mathieu Jaminet, while David Pittard rounded out the top-six in the second Walkenhorst BMW.
Earlier, WRT’s Audis both missed out on a Shootout spot by less than half-a-tenth. The #32 R8 beat its #31 stablemate to seventh place, while M-Sport’s second Bentley finished ninth.
But there was concern down at Dinamic where championship leaders Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber struggled for pace alongside co-driver Kevin Estre. Their advantage over Porsche colleagues Campbell/Pilet/Jaminet stands at just one point, while 13 covers a total of nine crews – including Farnbacher and Van der Zande – gunning for title glory tomorrow.
Porsche’s Manufacturers’ advantage over Audi and BMW is a more comfortable 33 and 36 points, respectively, but anything could still happen during the final nine hours of this most remarkable of racing seasons.
Watch unrestricted and uninterrupted live coverage of the 2020 Kyalami 9 Hour on SRO’s GT World Youtube channel and #IntGTC’s Facebook page from 10:30 SAST tomorrow. The race is also available on SuperSport TV across South Africa from 08:00.
The green flag drops at 11:00.