The R18 made a stunning debut with the 3 works cars in the first three places on the grid, pole position going to Timo Bernhard. In GTE Pro, Jaime Melo set the quickest time in his Ferrari. The second round of the ILMC will take place on Saturday 7th May starting at 14h05.
The qualifying session for the Spa 1000 kms was perturbed. With a little over five minutes to go to the chequered flag, the red flag was hung out around the circuit following Mathieu Lahaie’s big shunt. He was involved in a collision with the no. 93 FLM (which was not damaged), and the French driver’s OAK Racing Pescarolo slammed into the guardrail at high speed. He was very shocked and was immediately transported to the hospital in Verviers. “He’s conscious,” explained Sylvie Nicolet, the team’s spokesperson. “He now has to undergo a battery of tests.”
On the track Audi celebrated the competition debut of the firm’s new R18 in the best possible manner and Timo Bernhard set pole in 2m 01.502s in no. 1. “I’m very happy for the whole team,” he said at the press conference. “We had a great little scrap. We knew nothing about the Peugeots. I think the stopping of the session upset their plans.”
The three 908s came out of their pits very late and did not put in any flying laps. No.8 (like the Belicchi-Boullion Lola-Toyota) did not even do a single timed lap. The French cars ended the session in thirteenth, eighteenth and fiftieth places, and they will have their hands full trying to fight their way back up to the front tomorrow. The highest-placed Peugeot is the Oreca-entered 908 HDi FAP in fourth place thanks to Nicolas Lapierre’s time of 2m 05.482s. This car won the Sebring 12 Hours in March, but will it be able to take the fight to the Audis?
In LM P2, Danny Watts finished in front of the teams entered in the ILMC for the whole season, and put the no. 42 Honda on pole in front of three Oreca-Nissans.
In the GTE Pro category, Ferraris dominated and three F458 Italias filled the first three places with pole going to Jaime Melo in one of the cars entered by AF Corse. The Brazilian got round in 2m 20.743s, the quickest time so far this weekend at Spa in GTE since the start of practice yesterday. “We received a few aerodynamic evolutions,” explained Melo, “which improved the car a lot even if it’s been already very quick out of the box.” Behind the Ferraris came the first of the Porsches driven by Lieb-Lietz, while the BMW Prialux and Alsen that won in Florida of was seventh quickest in the category.
In GTE Am, Nicolas Armindo in the no. 67 Porsche set the best time in 2m 23.007s. It was a great performance by the Frenchman who put his car entered by the IMSA Performance Matmut team in front of all those in the ILMC. He and his team-mate, Raymond Narac, are racing in the Le Mans Series this year.
The start of the Spa-Francorchamps 1000 kms will be given tomorrow, Saturday 7th May, at 14h05. The race will finish at 20h05.