Fourth from last out of the pits, Dries Vanthoor took control of the Total 24 Hours of Spa Super Pole session this evening for Audi. A 2:18.605 off the bat in his first flyer was the result of huge commitment from the Belgian around his home circuit, who pushed even harder on his second lap for an improvement.
Eventually, it was his 2:18.578 that was good enough to take pole for the #1 Belgian Audi Club WRT R8 crew, and by over six tenths.
“It was not an easy session and I had to push hard, but I had great preparation from the team and the car felt good so I could commit,” explained Vanthoor. “This is qualifying though and there are many things we still have to consider for the race.”
Come Ledegar’s #58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3 put the marker down early on in the session with a 2:19.822 on his first flying lap, improving to 2:19.512 on his second. This would hold until halfway through the running order, the Garage 59 entry eventually ending up on the third row of the grid, sixth quickest behind the #29 Monteplast by-Land Motorsport Audi of Kelvin van der Linde.
Daniel Serra’s Audi looked strong too with a 2:20.097 for the #17 Belgian Audi Club R8, before Maxime Martin’s 2:19.183 placed the #62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin at the top of the timing screen.
Fred Makowiecki briefly went third for Manthey and Porsche, before Davide Rigon brought Ferrari into contention. His 2:19.433 placed the SMP Racing 488 GT3 second overall on his first flyer. A 2:19.100 put Rigon quickest overall next time around, but the time was cancelled for infringement of track limits, meaning Martin’s time was briefly put back into the provisional pole spot, before Vanthoor pushed him to second and the Ferrari onto the second row of the grid.
“This result was perfect,” Martin said after the session. “If you consider that it’s the first 24 Hours of Spa for the team, to be on the front row is amazing. To be able to drive in Super Pole and get on first row is great. It’s a long race, but I think with the car we have we can achieve a lot here.”
As the session neared its end and the faster runners from yesterday’s qualifying session ventured out Nico Muller stole Rigon’s third position, the #2 WRT Audi’s 2:19.366 adding to German marque’s show of strength.
“Dries pulled out a mega lap, and it’s great for the crowd here to have an all Belgian front row,” Muller said. “I can’t wait to go racing now, and we have to wait and see what the weather throws at us tomorrow. It will be really interesting and I just want to get out there.”
While the Super Pole session itself featured no incidents, the Warm Up held just before it saw one car unable to take part in the pole-deciding encounter.
The #88 Akka ASP Mercedes AMG failed to make it out for the Super Pole session, Raffaele Marciello having clouted the barriers at Les Combes during the red-flagged Warm Up. Heavy front-left damage sidelined the car which was now set to undergo extensive repairs. It remains to be seen at this point whether or not the AKKA mechanics can repair it in time for the start of the race.
The 70th running of the Spa 24 Hours is set to start at 16:30 local time tomorrow.
Photo courtesy of Blancpain GT