The No.34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 set the fastest average time in qualifying for the Total 24 Hours of Spa to lead a contingent of 20 cars into tomorrow’s SuperPole session, while starting positions 21 through 63 have been finalized for this weekend’s race.
The trio of Philipp Eng, Tom Blomqvist and Christian Krognes delivered consistently quick performances aboard their M6 GT3 to take provisional pole and book a spot in Friday evening’s shootout. Norwegian ace Krognes proved to be particularly impressive by topping his segment of qualifying with a lap of 2m19.012s.
The fastest individual time belonged to Dries Vanthoor, who hustled his No.1 Audi Sport Team WRT machine around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in 2m18.763s. That saw the youngster lead his segment, though ultimately the No.1 R8 LMS he shares with Christopher Mies and Alex Riberas took fourth on combined times.
Nevertheless, the Belgian squad will have considerable hope for the SuperPole session, which will see the top-20 cars from this evening’s qualifying battle for their place on the first 10 rows of the grid. Each squad will nominate one driver, who will complete just two flying laps of the circuit.
Among the other outfits to secure safe passage to tomorrow’s session were the defending race winners, Audi Sport Team Sainteloc, whose No.25 entry was second fastest on average times. It led a quartet of R8 LMS machines, with two Audi Sport Team WRT cars followed by the No.29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport entry.
Last year’s runner-up, the No.8 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3, was also comfortably among the top 20 in sixth spot, followed by a Mercedes-AMG, a Ferrari, a Lamborghini and an Aston Martin. Representatives from a further three brands are also set to contest SuperPole, meaning 10 of the 13 competing marques will start among the top 20 on Saturday afternoon.
Of the three to miss out, the No.23 GT Sport Motul Team RJN Nissan GT-R was a mere 0.020s shy of securing a spot among the 20 fastest cars. The No.54 Emil Frey G3 Jaguar XK also came close to booking a SuperPole spot in 23rd, but the car nevertheless secured a very comfortable pole position for the Silver Cup class. Japanese marque Honda, which is making its first appearance at the 24 Hours with its new NSX GT3, will start from ninth in Pro-Am and 49th overall.
The Pro-Am class pole-sitter delivered a highly impressive performance, with the No.49 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Euan Hankey, Felix Rosenqvist, Darren Burke and Salih Yoluc securing 25th overall. Burke was second fastest in his qualifying segment, setting the No.49 crew up for a particularly strong showing.
Am Cup pole was secured in commanding fashion by the No.188 Garage 59 McLaren 650 S GT3 of Chris Harris, Alexander West, Chris Goodwin and Andrew Watson. The British squad took 37th overall, beating several Pro-Am and Silver Cup cars in the process. In Group National, the No.67 GDL Racing Lamborghini Super Trofeo will start from first in class after snatching top spot at the very end of qualifying.
The No.76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage will be among the significant absentees from SuperPole after a technical problem forced it to miss the final segment of qualifying. The car was fourth on average times when Jake Dennis came to a halt at Raidillon, scuppering the crew’s hopes of making tomorrow’s battle for the top grid positions.
The No.7 Bentley Team M-Sport machine will also start from the back after failing to register a lap in the final segment of qualifying. It will be joined by the No.6 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3, which did not contest qualifying after suffering an accident in free practice.