Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon won the qualifying shootout for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, as Maro Engel pipped Laurens Vanthoor to pole by just 0.017s.
The German did just enough to overhaul KUS Team 75 Bernhard’s Porsche during his final lap of the Super Pole shootout, while Davide Rigon’s SMP Racing Ferrari ensured as many different manufacturers finished inside the top three.
Having qualified eighth fastest in yesterday’s combined qualifying session, Team 75 Bernhard’s Porsche was the 12th of 20 cars to set a Super Pole time. Vanthoor’s first lap fell just short of Rigon’s but there was no mistake second time around when the German opened a 0.2s advantage over the rest.
No one else came close to toppling his time until Engel emerged at the end of the session. The Mercedes-AMG initially lapped only 0.055s slower before snatching pole at the last possible moment courtesy of the weekend’s fastest lap so far: 2m18.588s.
“Going into qualifying, I was a little worried that we would not have the pace to fight for pole. But as soon as I did three corners on my first flying lap I knew the car was great,” said Engel. “When I heard from my engineer that I was half a second down after my first lap, I tried to squeeze everything out of the car on my second attempt. I am very happy that it worked out.”
Rigon held onto third by a meager 0.016s from Nick Tandy’s non-International GTC-nominated ROWE Racing Porsche, which finished just three hundredths ahead of the HubAuto Corsa Ferrari driven by Daniel Serra.
WRT’s Audis wound up sixth and seventh thanks to Dries Vanthoor and Nico Muller, both of whom are registered to score Intercontinental GT Challenge points. Behind, Maxi Buhk (GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG) and Mathieu Jaminet (ROWE Racing Porsche) ensured eight International GTC entries featured in the overall top-10.
Further back, Nissan’s only Super Pole contender driven by KCMG’s Katsumasa Chiyo was relegated to 20th after a time penalty.
Bentley failed to make the shootout by just 0.006s, which consigned the best of M-Sport’s Continentals to 21st. BMW and Honda also endured difficult qualifying sessions on Thursday when Team Schnitzer’s M6 led the Bavarian contenders in 31st while Team Motul’s NSX lines up two places behind.
Maro Engel, #4 Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon: “Going into qualifying, I was a little worried that we would not have the pace to fight for pole. But my engineer told me to remain calm, that everything would be alright, and as soon as I did three corners on my first flying lap I knew the car was great. When I heard from my engineer that I was half a second down after my first lap, I tried to squeeze everything out of the car on my second attempt. I am very happy that it worked out. The team gave me great car to drive and I have to thank my teammates as well, because they set some great lap times in qualifying yesterday. Being on pole for this legendary race is fantastic, but once the flag drops it does not count for much anymore. The big aim is to be first on Sunday afternoon.”
The Spa 24 Hours airs on CBS Sports Network Saturday from 3-6 p.m. ET, and on Sunday from 8-11 a.m.