BMW takes provisional pole
Philipp Eng, Tom Blomqvist and Christian Krognes delivered consistently quick performances in their BMW M6 GT3 to take provisional pole in Friday evening’s shootout of the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Krognes proved to be particularly impressive by topping his segment of qualifying with a lap of 2:19.012.
The fastest individual time belonged to Dries Vanthoor, who hustled his Audi Sport Team WRT R8 LMS car around the Belgian circuit in 2:18.763. That saw the youngster lead his segment, sharing the duties with Christopher Mies and Alex Riberas took fourth on combined times.
Nevertheless, the Belgian team will have considerable hope for the Superpole session, which will see the top-20 cars from this evening’s qualifying battle for their place on the first 10 rows of the grid. Each squad will nominate one driver, who will complete just two flying laps of the circuit.
Among the other outfits to secure safe passage to tomorrow’s session were the defending race winners, Audi Sport Team Sainteloc, whose car entry was second fastest on average times. It led a quartet of R8 LMS machines, with two Audi Sport Team WRT cars followed by the #29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport entry.
Last year’s runner-up, Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3, was also comfortably among the top-20 in sixth spot, followed by a Mercedes-AMG, a Ferrari 488, a Lamborghini Huracán GT3 and an Aston Martin. Representatives from a further three brands are also set to contest Superpole, meaning 10 of the 13 competing marques will start among the top-20 on Saturday afternoon.
Of the three to miss out, the GT Sport Motul Team RJN Nissan GT-R was a mere 0.020s shy of securing a spot among the 20 fastest cars. The #54 Emil Frey G3 Jaguar also came close to booking a Superpole spot in 23rd, but the car nevertheless secured a very comfortable pole position for the Silver Cup class. Japanese marque Honda, which is making its first appearance at the 24 Hours with its new NSX GT3, will start from ninth in PRO-AM class and 49th overall.
The PRO-AN class pole-sitter delivered a highly impressive performance, with the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Euan Hankey, Felix Rosenqvist, Darren Burke and Salih Yoluc securing 25th overall. Burke was second fastest in his qualifying segment, setting the #49 crew up for a particularly strong showing.
AM Cup pole was secured in commanding fashion by Garage 59 McLaren 650 S GT3 of Chris Harris, Alexander West, Chris Goodwin and Andrew Watson. The British squad took 37th overall, beating several PRO-AM and Silver Cup cars in the process. In Group National, the GDL Racing Lamborghini Super Trofeo will start from first in class after snatching top spot at the very end of qualifying.