Series debutant Jose Maria Lopez claimed a home pole position for the GT1 World Championship finale at San Luis, while Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels edged closer to the inaugural series title as they qualified third - 14 places ahead of rivals Tomas Enge and Darren Turner.
Lopez, who was placed with the Young Driver AMR Aston Martin team by the series organiser in the week leading up to the event, headed the timesheets on a 2m14.406s in the final segment of qualifying. The 27-year-old set the time, which was three tenths clear of his nearest rival, after spinning on his first flying lap.
"I had the feeling I was on a good lap and then I lost the rear of the car," said Lopez, whose team-mate Stefan Mucke will start the qualifying race from pole. "The second lap was tough, because I knew I had to deliver. It was a good feeling when I saw I was P1."
Hexis driver Frederic Makowiecki enjoyed his best qualifying session of the season to make it an Aston Martin one-two. His team-mate Yann Clairay will line up alongside Mucke on the front row for tomorrow morning's qualifying race.
Points leaders Bertolini and Bartels ended up third in the times aboard the lead Vitaphone Maserati. Bertolini just edged out Frank Kechele in the best of the Reiter Lamborghinis at the end of the session.
The championship hopes of Young Driver Aston's Turner and Enge, who lie second in the points, took a blow when Turner was eliminated in the first round of qualifying, citing the success ballast from their win in Brazil last week. The result means Enge will start the qualifying race from 17th place on the grid.
Pos Drivers Car Time Session 1. Lopez/Mucke Aston Martin 2m14.406s Q3 2. Makowiecki/Clairay Aston Martin 2m14.764s Q3 3. Bertolini/Bartels Maserati 2m15.200s Q3 4. Kechele/Jimenez Lamborghini 2m15.378s Q3 5. Piccione/Hirschi Aston Martin 2m15.767s Q3 6. Kox/Haase Lamborghini 2m15.835s Q3 7. Pastorelli/Schwager Lamborghini 2m16.407s Q3 8. Dumbreck/Krumm Nissan 2m16.448s Q3 9. Jani/Armindo Ford 2m17.109s Q2 10. Westbrook/Mutsch Ford 2m17.213s Q2 11. Pier Guidi/Verdonck Maserati 2m17.415s Q2 12. Martin/Leinders Ford 2m17.510s Q2 13. Bernoldi/Ramos Maserati 2m17.836s Q2 14. Hennerici/Margaritis Corvette 2m17.866s Q2 15. Risatti/Basseng Lamborghini 2m17.884s Q2 16. Muller/Heger Maserati 2m18.516s Q2 17. Turner/Enge Aston Martin 2m17.183s Q1 18. Campbell-Walter/Hughes Nissan 2m17.256s Q1 19. Palttala/Bobbi Ford 2m17.293s Q1 20. Ara/Nilsson Nissan 2m17.609s Q1 21. Wendlinger/Moser Nissan 2m17.809s Q1