The Toyota Gazoo Racing Team took pole as predicted at the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship Superseason at the Six Hours of Spa.
Under blue skies and 20 degree temperatures, it was the #7 machine with Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi setting the pole time with average pole time 1:54.583 with Conway setting a time of 1:54.679 and Kobayashi setting a time of 1:54.488 – ahead of the sister #8 machine.
The fastest time for a LMP1H car was the Rebellion of Bruno Senna and Neel Jani with an average time of 1:56.425, some 1.8 seconds slower than the fastest Toyota.
They were 0.6 faster than the sister Rebellion with the #11 SMP Racing BR1 3.664 seconds off pole and the ByKolles car sixth, 4.114 seconds off the lead Toyota.
The major drama from the session came from a heavy crash for the #10 Dragonspeed BR1 of Pietro Fittipaldi, the car stepping out before the apex before heading in a straight line into the tyre wall and barrier on the outside taking a very heavy impact bringing out an immediate red flag.
The front of the car bore the brunt of the impact and Fittipaldi was taken away by ambulance, a part of the barrier requiring replacement and repair.
At the time of writing, there has been no statement on Fittipaldi’s condition. (UPDATE: an FIA bulletin confirms “suspected fractures to both legs”)
The red flag was brought out at 8:56 and was the second of the session after the #17 SMP Racing car of Stéphane Sarrazin came to a stop with electronic issues after just four minutes, recovered to Parc fermè the BR1 would set no time in the session.
The two red flags brought havoc to the session with only Thomas Laurent in the Rebellion setting a time before the first stoppage and most of the LMP2 field not setting a time before the second red flag.
They all did manage to put in a flyer though by the end of the session with the Signatech Alpine taking the fastest time with a combined time of 2:02.405. Nicolas Lapierre set the first time of 2:01.476 and Pierre Thiriet setting a time of 2:03.334.
Second in LMP2 was the G-Drive Racing who was just 0.022 (2:02.429) off the class pole with the #10 Jackie Chan DC Racing entry coming in third in class with an average time of 2:03.023.
The entire of the LMP2 field set a time with the Jacki Chan DC Racing #11 ahead of the Dragonspeed entry, TDS Racing, Racing Team Nederland and Labre Competition.
The Dragonspeed car was not able to keep up its practice from that saw it top those sessions.
The LMP2 field were well behaved except for a clumsy clash at the end of the session with Roberto Gonzalez and Romano Ricci tagging each other at the Busstop resulting in a spin. Both cars were able to continue to pit lane.
In GTE Pro it was the #67 Ford GT which was driven to pole by Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell. The pair setting an average lap time of 2:12.947 with Priaulx setting the quicker of the two laps with fresher tyers earlier in the session.
‘It was a super start to super season!” Andy said at the end of qualifying, “Harry [Tincknell] did a great job on the used tires…” The #67 Ford will have competition from behind however as Priaulx pointed out the fact that “…the Porsches look really strong and obviously our teammates as well.”
Second in clsss was the sister-car of the #66 Ford GT with Olivier Pla and Stefan Mucke on qualifying duties. Their time was just 1 tenth behind their teammates, a 2:13.030 the average for those two.
Rounding out the top three in class was the #91 Porsche 911 RSR GTE with Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni each setting times within 5 hundredths of a second of each other for a combined time of 2:13.034. Just 4 thousandths of a second behind the #66 Ford.
Just behind the #91 Porsche was the #92 Porsche setting a combined time of 2:13.352.
The new Aston Martin Vantage AMRs struggled to find the pace, qualifying eighth and tenth, with the #97 Aston Martin besting the #95 Aston Martin, each cars roughly three seconds behind the average lap time of the pole-sitting #67 Ford.
In GTE Am the Porsche 911 RSR GTEs continued their dominance from practice into qualifying and the Dempsey-Proton entered #77 Porsche secured pole with laps from Matt Campbell and Christian Reid setting an average of 2:16.522.
Breaking the Porsche 911 theme was the reigning champions in the #98 Aston Martin Vantage. Laps from both Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy meant that the Aston Martin was just behind the pole-sitter with a 2:16.558.
Third in GTE Am was the Gulf Racing UK Porsche 911 RSR GTE, Ben Barker and Michael Wainwright were on qualifying duties for the car that wrapped up FP2 in first. Barker and Wainwright combined for a 2:16.734.
The Total Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps begins at 13:13 local time.