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Spa 24 Hours: Marciello Claims Provisional Pole For Mercedes

Oman Racing Aston tops Pro-Am and goes P8 overall

The #90 AKKA-ASP Mercedes is on provisional pole position for this weekend’s Spa 24 Hours following Thursday’s evening and night qualifying sessions.

Raffaele Marciello’s 2:18.562 from early in the evening session went unchallenged as day turned to night, leaving the car he shares with Edoardo Mortara and Michael Meadows (above) at the top of the timing screens almost throughout the two sessions.

The lone Pro-Am car to make it into the top 20 was the #97 TF Sport-run Oman Racing Aston Martin (above), which Johnny Adam qualified in eighth overall.

The top 20 from these combined Thursday sessions (below) go through to Friday night’s ‘Super Pole’ shootout, but for 21st position down, grid positions for the race are now set.

1 #90 AKKA Mercedes
2 #2 WRT Audi
3 #55 Kaspersky Ferrari
4 #88 AKKA Mercedes
5 #8 M-Sport Bentley
6 #63 Grasser Lamborghini
7 #9 Abt Bentley
8 #97 Oman Aston Martin
9 #23 Motul Nissan
10 #84 HTP Mercedes
11 #14 Emil Frey Jaguar
12 #99 ROWE BMW
13 #50 Spirit Of Race Ferrari
14 #75 ISR Audi
15 #76 ISR Audi
16 #7 M-Sport Bentley
17 #1 WRT Audi
18 #117 Team75 Porsche
19 #25 Sainteloc
20 #17 WRT Audi

Just missing out on a place in the shootout were the #5 WRT Audi and the #4 Black Falcon Mercedes in 21st and 22nd overall, as well as the #59 Strakka McLaren (24th) and #85 HTP Mercedes (26th).

Spots of rain appeared shortly after the start of evening qualifying, putting paid to any improvements during that session, while several cars had times deleted for track-limits violations in the early laps, too.

That first session was red-flagged a couple of minutes before its scheduled end time after Kamui Kobayashi lost the Goodsmile Mercedes (above) at the top of Eau Rouge, resulting in heavy rear-end damage to the #00 car. The team later tweeted that the Toyota works LMP1 driver had suffered ‘no big injury’. The Ram Racing-run car was too badly damaged to repair, however, but efforts are underway to source a replacement chassis from AMG in Germany overnight.

In night qualifying, the reds were thrown just minutes into the session when Matt Parry in the #22 Motul Nissan (above) went nose-first into the barriers on the outside of Eau Rouge after appearing to puncture a tyre running over the kerbs on the way into the corner. Parry walked from the car and was taken to the medical centre for precautionary checks, then later cleared to return to the garage.

Contact later in the night session between the #77 Barwell Lamborghini and #98 ROWE Mercedes just before pit entry (above) was investigated by the stewards, but no further action was taken.

With less than an hour to go, the #7 Bentley (above) came to a halt on the outside of La Source, showing no damage but needing to be pushed behind the barriers by marshals under a local yellow. The car was recovered to the pits and the issue was reported as not serious. One potential hiccup caused by this incident was that Spa 24 debutant Olly Jarvis was unable to complete his two night laps as required by the regulations, but the team will be requesting he be allowed race on grounds of force majeure.

Shortly after the Bentley stopped, a full-course yellow was thrown when Alex Demerdjian became stranded in the #961 Spirit Of Race Ferrari (above) at Campus corner, but there were no further interruptions before the session ended at midnight.