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Total 24 Hours of Spa: Qualifying Report

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Alessandro Pier Guidi was the fastest driver in last night’s qualifying sessions on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The Italian in the #70 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia set his fastest time early in the first qualifying session and his time was never beaten by any of the other teams.

Having set the fastest time in Pre-Qualifying Marc VDS Racing the local fans hoped one of the team’s BMW Z4 GT3 would take provisional pole position, but it wasn’t to be. On only his second lap on a still sunny and warm Spa circuit Pier Guidi put in a 2:20.383, the Marc VDS cars were fourth and fifth.

Just after Stefan Mücke posted the second fastest lap the yellow flags came out as a result of the #53 Sport Garage Ferrari going off at turn 4. The car was returned to the paddock and the Sport Garage mechanics started to strip the car down to repair it. The team will be allowed to take the start tomorrow.

With just over 35 minutes remaining a red flag brought the session to a halt when a drain cover came loose at the bottom of the Raidillon and minutes later race control also reported a loose drain cover near the medical centre. After quick fixes the session was restarted at 21:10.

Just over ten minutes later the session was red flagged once again when Marc VDS Racing Team teammates Markus Palttala and Jens Klingmann had a coming together at the bus stop chicane. By that time the team’s third car, the #3, was already in the pit with technical issues. At 21:35 the session was restarted once more, but none of the teams was able to beet Pier Guidi’s time. The session ended with the top 25 within two seconds.

Night qualifying got underway at 22:17 and within minutes a message showed up on the screens that Matteo Bobbi in the #70 SMP Racing Ferrari had hit the barriers at Fagnes. The Italian slowly returned to the pit as Nick Tandy put in the fastest time of the night qualifying, a 2:21.774 – still way off the pace in the early stages of the first session. Only a couple of minutes later the #34 Pro GT Porsche went off at the same track, ending up in the gravel trap and bringing out local yellows. By then Jann Mardenborough had put the #35 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 into second position.

20 minutes before the end of the session Fredy Barth crashed the #80 Emil Frey Racing Aston Martin Vantage at the Raidillon after suffering a puncture. The red flag came out immediately and the rescue team rushed to the scene. The Vantage suffered heavy damage and it soon became clear it would not be seen anymore this weekend.

After nearly 30 minutes the session was restarted with still over 19 minutes remaining in the session. In that remaining time Laurens Vanthoor was able to improve and set the fastest lap in the night session. His time of 2:21.727 was enough to qualify the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra for the Super Pole session.

Alessandro Pier Guidi, Ferrari 458 Italia #70, SMP Racing: “It’s nice to be first in the overall classification tonight, but tomorrow it’s the Superpole so we could be 20th on the grid on Saturday… But I’ll try to be on pole. We showed that we have the pace. We are in a PRO-AM Cup so we also need to find a good compromise on the car set-up for all the drivers. Today I did my best time in my second lap, so it was like a Superpole… For SMP Racing it’s very important to be on top tonight.”

MtC