9H Kyalami, Honda takes the pole
Team Honda Racing will start the Kyalami 9 Hour from the pole position after Mario Farnbacher set a new qualifying lap record ahead of 2020 Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli showdown. The German, who shares the NSX GT3 car 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.
It was a tough qualifying for championship leaders Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor whose Dinamic Motorsport 911 could manage no better than 10th.
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 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 Baguette 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 whenPepper 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 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.
Intercontinental GT Challenge
Kyalami 9 Hours, 11 December 2020
1. Mario Farnbacher (Honda NSX GT3 – Team Honda Racing) 1:41.581
2. Jordan Pepper (Bentley Continental GT3 – Bentley Team M-Sport) 1:41.723
3. Sheldon van der Linde (BMW M6 GT3 – Walkenhorst Motorsport) 1:41.891
4. Christopher Haase (Audi R8 LMS GT3 – Audi Sport Team Car Collection) 1:42.234
5. Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 GT3 R – GPX Racing) 1:42.274
6. David Pittard (BMW M6 GT3 / Walkenhorst Motorsport) 1:42.564
1. Baguette / Farnbacher / Van der Zande (Honda NSX GT3 – Team Honda Racing) 1:42.521
2. Catsburg / Farfus / S. Van der Linde (BMW M6 GT3 – Walkenhorst Motorsport) 1:42.690
3. Gounon / Pepper / Soulet (Bentley Continental GT3 – Bentley Team M-Sport) 1:42.810
4. Campbell / Jaminet / Pilet (Porsche 911 GT3 R – GPX Racing) 1:42.843
5. Drudi / Haase / Niederhauser (Audi R8 LMS GT3 – Audi Sport Italia) 1:42.878
6. Pittard / Tomczyk / Yelloly (BMW M6 GT3 – Walkenhorst Motorsport) 1:42.941
7. Bortolotti / Vervisch / Weerts (Audi R8 LMS GT3 – Audi Sport Team WRT) 1:42.967
8. K. Van der Linde / D. Vanthoor / Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS GT3 – Audi Sport Team WRT) 1:42.978
9. Buncombe / Jarvis / Morris (Bentley Continental GT3 – Bentley Team M-Sport) 1:43.072
10. Bamber / Estre / L. Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R – Dinamic Motorsport) 1:43.151
11. Bezuidenhout / Hack / Pereira (Porsche 911 GT3 R – Lechner Racing) 1:44.961
12. M. Dontje – Lechman – Marschall (Audi R8 LMS GT3 – Car Collection) 1:54.010