The #4 Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon crew of Maro Engel, Yelmer Buurman and Luca Stolz stormed pole position heading into Friday’s Super Pole session for the top 20 qualifiers at the 24 Hours of Spa.
The trio set times easily in the top five in each of the three 15-minute sessions they contested to send their Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the top of the average times with a 2m19.651sec.
Finishing just 0.081sec behind the Black Falcon team was the #2 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS of Dries Vanthoor, Alex Riberas and Frank Stippler. Each of the Audi drivers set a lap within the 2m19sec bracket but Buurman’s table-topping time in Q3 proved to be the difference.
Highlighting the pace at the sharp-end of the field was emphasised by the #999 GruppeM Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Maxi Buhk, Lucas Auer and Maxi Goetz completing their three laps with an average just 0.127sec down on the fastest time.
The fastest of the non-German machinery was the #227 HubAuto Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of Nick Cassidy, Nick Foster and Daniel Serra, which claimed the last place on the second-row by less than half-a-tenth from the #99 ROWE Racing Porsche 911 GT3R.
Sixth was the fastest of the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos in the hands of the #563 FFF Racing team which qualified 0.001sec ahead of the provisional Silver Cup pole-sitting Audi of Attempto Racing. The latter the only car outside of the mammoth all-Pro class to make it through to tomorrow’s final shootout.
Also securing a place in Friday evening’s shootout is the #35 KCMG Nissan GT-R GT3. The Katsumasa Chiyo, Tsugio Matsuda and Joshua Burdon car powered well into the top twenty with a time good enough for 15th.
R-Motorsport claimed the honours for the fastest Aston Martin Vantage GT3 down in 14th place, albeit only six-tenths down on the fastest average.
While Aston will have three cars in the Super Pole contest – with the second R-Motorsport and the Garage 59 entries also squeezing through – another British brand, Bentley, will not be represented at all as the #107 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3 of Jordan Pepper, Steven Kane and Jules Gounon was bumped to 21st by just 0.006sec.
Also failing to get a place in the top 20 was last year’s winning manufacturer BMW which has been struggling to find performance throughout the first full day of action at Spa. The fastest of the M6 GT3s was the #42 BMW Team Schnitzer which lost a potential quick lap after Martin Tomczyk’s best effort was lost because of a red flag to recover Alex Macdowall’s Team WRT Audi after the Brit went into the tyre barriers at the exit of Les Combes.
That was the second of two red flags in the session, the first was to clean up the gravel and repair the barriers after Eric Maris went off at the exit of Pouhon and damaged the front-right of the BMW. The two cars will start at the back of the field.
Ahead of them, pole positions in Pro-Am and Am were both settled as the darkness fell, with the Ram Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 securing pole in Pro-Am as Darren Burke, Tom Onslow-Cole, Remon Vos and Christiaan Frankenhout powered more than half-a-second clear of the next-best Pro-Am car. Am Cup pole went to the Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini.
Super Pole takes place tomorrow at 19.05 local time.