Maro Engel smashed the competition in yesterday’s top 30 qualifying session for the 2016 24-hour race at the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife.

The German in the #9 Mercedes-AMG GT3 lapped the 25km track in 8.14.515 and stayed 1.6 seconds clear of Augusto Farfus in the #18 Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 to claim pole position for Germany’s most important race.

“Unbelievable,” said Engel after his drive to P1 amid slippery conditions. “My car was just perfect. Our thorough preparation of the tyres was key to win pole position today.

“However, we now have to finish this race, first and foremost. But we got ourselves into the best possible starting position. This is an advantage, for sure. I’m super happy with this result.”

Behind Engel and Farfus two more Mercedes AMG GT3s claimed third and fourth on the grid, with Maximilian Gotz and Uwe Alzen at the helm of the #88 and #8 Haribo Racing machines.

The #5 Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS qualified in fifth, ahead of the #999 BMW M6 GT3 of Walkenhorst Motorsport.

With Denmark’s Nicki Thiim at the wheel of the #007 V12 Vantage GT3, Aston Martin Racing qualified in eighth place as the Dane set a lap time of 8.20.332.

“The conditions were tricky for the shootout and straight away you could see cars going off on the warm up lap.” Thiim said after the session.

“I took it easy on the first flying lap as the second lap was always going to be drier and faster. The lap felt good: the tyres felt good and the car felt strong. I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow”.

Suffering from a technical problem (which was not identified until pst session), New Zealander Richie Stanaway qualified the sister V12 Vantage GT3 in 18th place with a lap time some 5s slower than the #007 car.

Aston Martin Racing also celebrated a pole position today in the SP8 class, as Darren Turner took the team’s close-to-production Vantage GT8 to a lap time of 9.08.961 during the second qualifying session. Turner switched duties from his regular GT3 entry to qualify the #42 Vantage GT8 over 10 seconds clear of its nearest rival.

“I’m really pleased with the performance of the Vantage GT8.” said Turner. “It’s fun to drive two different cars here and to be on the SP8 pole is a great start to the weekend.

“I’ll start the race in that car and I’m expecting it to be as eventful as ever. The aim is to pass the car over to one of my team mates in one piece after that opening stint before I switch into the GT3”.

2015 24-hour winners Audi Sport Team WRT and its #1 Audi R8 LMS finished in 22nd position.

The session got interrupted several times due to cars crashing into the guardrail on the still partially-wet track at the beginning of the qualifying practice and due to yellow flags in several corners where cars had been parked after technical issues.