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Paul Ricard Blancpain: Alvaro Parente puts ART McLaren on pole

ART McLaren, Paul Ricard Blancpain 2014

Alvaro Parente put the ART McLaren on pole position for the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Paul Ricard.

The Portuguese driver was once again unstoppable at the wheel of his McLaren 12C, setting the fastest time on his first lap then never looking troubled.

The same could not be said of the sister - and championship leading - ART car, as Kevin Estre ground to a halt on his out-lap, with apparent engine problems.

Parente's closest challenger was the HTP Mercedes of Stef Dusseldorp, but the Dutchman finished 0.332 seconds adrift, albeit one thousandth of a second quicker than Alex Buncombe's Nissan, which will start third.

A stellar lap from Nick Catsburg handed fourth position on the grid to the TDS Racing BMW squad at its home race, while the second RJN Nissan of Katsumasa Chiyo will start fifth.

After the team's historic win at Silverstone in the previous round, the Bentleys produced a reasonably strong qualifying performance. Antoine Leclerc put the #8 car seventh quickest, while Silverstone hero Steven Kane could only manage ninth.

In between them will be the Sainteloc Audi, with Gregory Guilvert comfortably the quickest Audi out there as the WRT team struggled, languishing well down the field in 21st place.

The Villorba Corsa Ferrari of Francesco Castellacci completes the top 10 for Saturday evening's three-hour race.

Pos  Drivers                      Team/Car          Time       Gap
 1.  Demoustier/Lapierre/Parente  ART McLaren       1m57.198s
 2.  Wolf/Afanasiev/Dusseldorp    HTP Mercedes      1m57.530s  +0.332s
 3.  McMillen/Strauss/Buncombe    RJN Nissan        1m57.531s  +0.333s
 4.  Hassid/Catsburg              TDS BMW           1m57.643s  +0.445s
 5.  Aksenov/Faisca/Chiyo         RJN Nissan        1m57.689s  +0.491s
 6.  Clement/Lariche/Armindo      TDS BMW           1m57.743s  +0.545s
 7.  D'Ambrosio/Tappy/Leclerc     M-Sport Bentley   1m57.857s  +0.759s
 8.  Ortelli/Sandstrom/Guilvert   Sainteloc Audi    1m57.971s  +0.773s
 9.  Smith/Meyrick/Kane           M-Sport Bentley   1m57.984s  +0.786s
10.  Rizzoli/Gai/Castellacci      Villorba Ferrari  1m58.050s  +0.852s
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Bentley beats ART McLaren in France