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LP Racing Audis take brace of Pro-Am poles, True Racing & RTR Projects share KTM Am Qualifying honours

26 May 2023
  • Henry Hassid takes first Pro-Am pole for LP Racing
  • Pierre Kaffer follows suit in the sister Audi, snatching race two pole in the closing stages
  • True Racing & RTR Projects give KTM home Am starting honours
  • 0.194 seconds covers Audi, KTM and Mercedes

The Fanatec GT2 European Series field of 2023 served up one of the closest qualifying sessions in the championship’s short history at the Red Bull Ring this afternoon, ahead of the second round of the season in Austria this weekend.

At the end of the two incredibly close sessions to set the grids for Saturday’s two 50-minute races, LP Racing managed to take double pole position honours. Henry Hassid topped the timing screens for the first time since his move to the Pro-Am class with Anthony Beltoise, while Pierre Kaffer left it late to claim his maiden series pole for race two.

KTM were front of the Am field, with Team True Racing’s Klaus Angerhofer claiming the top spot by just 0.060 of a second in Q1, while current class leader Jan Krabec stamped his authority on the final session of the day.

So close is the competition in only the series’ third season that just 0.194 seconds lay between the three world-class brands of Audi, KTM and Mercedes-AMG and the top four cars. 

Hassid gives LP Racing first Pro-Am pole

Following the two one-hour practice sessions held earlier in the day, it was clear either of the class pole positions could go anyone’s way. Current Am class leader, Krabec and KTM charge Angerhofer were among the first to set the bar in the first 20-minute qualifying session before the times really began to tumble in the final moments.

True Racing’s Nicolas Saelens initially looked to have the pole within his grasp thanks to a best time of 1:31.050 posted heading into the final five minutes, only for 2022 Am champion Hassid to leap ahead with a lap just 0.066 quicker than the #15 KTM. That was good enough to secure his and LP Racing's maiden Pro-Am pole.

Saelens held strong in second to secure a front-row start for race one, ahead of early pace-setter Angerhofer who in turn managed to secure third by 0.060s from Krabec.

Jörg Viebahn delivered an impressive performance on his qualifying debut in the new HRT Mercedes-AMG GT2 to take third fastest in Am and start fifth overall, while the PK Carsport Audi completed the Pro-Am top three, sixth overall, in the hands of Peter Guelinckx.

Audi, KTM and Mercedes battle for Q2 pole

The second qualifying session proved even closer as the Pro drivers took their turn to secure their starting slots for race two.

Ten minutes into Q2 and a new name led the field as Benjamin Ricci became the first to push into the 1minute 29s margin aboard the Akkodis ASP Mercedes on the team’s series debut. 

The True Racing Pro-Am entries soon followed suit with Reinhard Kofler heading Stefan Rosina to put a 1-2 on home ground within KTM’s reach. But Pierre Kaffer had other ideas and saved the best for last in the #18 LP Racing Audi, his time of 1:29.818 good enough to snatch pole by a mere 0.009s with less than two minutes remaining.

While Kofler and Rosina held on to second and third respectively, Ricci continued his impressive debut to guarantee a start from row two tomorrow afternoon. PK Carsport’s Stienes Longin and LP Racing’s Beltoise managed to lock out an all-Audi row three.

In the Am category, meanwhile, Krabec continued his stellar form to claim his first Fanatec GT2 European Series class pole position for KTM. Mantas Janavicius finished second fastest to sandwich the Ebimotors Porsche between the RTR Projects and the #16 True Racing KTMs, with Sehdi Sarmini third in class and 10th overall.

The first 50-minute Fanatec GT2 race of the weekend is scheduled to take place at 09:30 tomorrow, Saturday 27 May, followed by race two 14:45. Both races will be streamed live via GT World on YouTube.