Spa 24: Jos Menten qualifying report

The Total 24 Hours of Spa started well for Phoenix Carsport. With spots on the first and third row of the starting grid the German team heads full of confidence to the start of the race of two times around the clock. Both Phoenix quartets...

The Total 24 Hours of Spa started well for Phoenix Carsport. With spots on the first and third row of the starting grid the German team heads full of confidence to the start of the race of two times around the clock.

Both Phoenix quartets take it easy in the first free practice of the most important FIA GT race of the season. Jos Menten and his co-drivers finish the first practice in seventh place (2:18,679). "This morning I only did one installation lap. We checked the car and it felt just as good as during the official test day", Jos Menten tells us. "Then I handed over the steering wheel to my team mates. I think we already found a good set-up for the race. The team is very experienced. Up until now we haven't clocked competitive lap times but as soon as the track warms up, times will drop very fast."

In the pre-qualifying session the pace goes up. Phoenix Carsport finishes the ninety minute session in first and sixth place. Hezemans-Fassler- Deletraz-Gollin, the quartet that won last year's edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, lead the pack, whilst Menten-Schlunssen-Margaritis-Alzen spend time working on the tire choice: "We found a good rhythm in order not to push the tires to the limit. If we can keep up that pace in the race, and the tires remain consistent, we might have an interesting trump card in our hands", says the 27 year young Limburger.

Three qualifying sessions will decide upon who will start from pole position on Saturday. Two qualifying sessions, separated by a short break, are held on Thursday evening. The third - and maybe decisive - session is held on Friday at 12h30.

Traditionally most of the teams keep their cars in the garage for the first half hour of the first session. Phoenix Carsport is the last team to send out their drivers for their first qualifying run. The track is definitely faster than earlier on. but "it's not enough to put in a flyer", Menten comments from the Phoenix pitbox. At around 21h00 the big guns are brought out. Jos Menten rushes out on the track but in his first run the Dutchman loses time in traffic. The car is called back in for a fresh set of tires: "We were about to go out again, but then the SRT Corvette crashed. Red flag and the session was over, with our car in sixth position."

No improvements are made in the second qualifying session: "Maybe the track is a little bit faster, but a better place on the grid doesn't outweigh the risk of doing flying laps in the dark. Everyone did his compulsory laps, we're done for today. Let's wait and see what tomorrow's weather will bring. If the conditions are good, we'll try again tomorrow", Menten comments after the second session. And the weather gods are at the side of the Phoenix Carsport team.

The third and final session starts under a sunny sky. Compared to his team mates from the #6 car, Menten only uses one set of tires for his last run, which eventually puts him in sixth position for Saturday's race (2:15,148): "We're ready for the big day. We've got a homogenous team and the Corvette C6.R is an exceptionally reliable war horse", a combative Jos Menten remarks. The sister car bearing the starting number #5 will start from second place on the grid.

-credit: jm

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Jos Menten