BMW tops first Spa 24 Hours qualifying

Maxime Martin posted the quickest time at 2m18.397s.

BMW emerged quickest in the final qualifying session for this weekend’s Spa 24 Hours.

In the hands of local ace and recent DTM podium visitor, Maxime Martin, the No.45 entered BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS BMW Z4 set a best of 2m18.397s to claim the best time. Martin, who is yet to win his home event, shares the BMW Z4 with Augusto Farfus and Dirk Werner this weekend.

The 4.3 mile track slowly evolved during the session and rubbered in sufficiently to see times from the earlier session tumble, with Martin’s best was a mere 0.009s better than countryman and rival Laurens Vanthoor in the No.1 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS. Defending champion Vanthoor shares the new model Audi R8 with fellow Spa 24 Hour victors from 2014, Rene Rast and Markus Winkelhock.

It was a bad start for Lamborghini as a lack of pace and an accident put the Italian manufacturer on the back foot. Firstly the brace of Grasser entered Huracan’s fought balance problems with the new GT3 car, and then Fabio Babini crashed the No.19 entry in the afternoon session. The resulting damage ensured it would take no further part in the running today.

Steven Kane set the best Bentley Continental GT3 time with a 2m19.140s time, as the top twenty were covered by a remarkable 0.946s.

Ferrari leads the way in Pro-Am

In the Pro-Am class the No.47 entered AF Corse Ferrari 458 once again led the way with Gianmaria Bruni instantly getting top grips with a GT3 car and Pirelli tyres to find the limits to lead the class and place third overall. The rapid Italian, who has just extended his factory Ferrari contract, continued an impressive run in the Ferrari he shares with Pasin Lathouras, Stephane Lemeret and Alessandro Pier Giudi. However, a penalty for exceeding track limits was dished out to this car toward the end of the session, relegating it down to 17th place, but still crucially in the top twenty cars that go through to tomorrows Super Pole shoot-out.

This late session drama promoted the No.77 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, driven by Andrea Piccini up to P1 in Pro-Am and P3 overall. The Italian set a late time to head the No.32 Leonard Motorsport run Aston Martin driven by Stefan Mucke.

The amateur class was dominated by the No.10 AKKA ASP Ferrari driven by veteran French racer, Jean-Philippe Belloc.

There was little incident in most of the 75-minute session with only several cars having warnings and then lap times excluded for track limit violations. But there were two late red flags, one to retrieve the No.70 GT Russian Team Mercedes being driven Christophe Bouchut, and the other to extricate Christopher Mies’ No.5 Phoenix Audi from the Les Combes tyre wall. The latter incident necessitated the slightly premature end of the session with just less than five minutes remaining, but the Audi still claimed fourth fastest time.

A two hour night qualifying session takes place later this evening before the all-important grid setting Super Pole, for the top twenty qualifiers, which takes place tomorrow afternoon.

The Spa 24 Hours itself is scheduled to take place at 16.30 on Saturday afternoon.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Blancpain Endurance
Event 24 Hours of Spa
Track Spa-Francorchamps
Drivers Maxime Martin
Article type Qualifying report
Tags bmw, ferrari, lamborghini