Spa 24h: Engel shades Vanthoor to give Mercedes pole

Maro Engel secured pole position for the Spa 24 Hours for the Black Falcon Mercedes squad after edging out Porsche driver Laurens Vanthoor by just 0.017 seconds in Superpole on Friday evening.

Spa 24h: Engel shades Vanthoor to give Mercedes pole
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As Black Falcon's #4 Mercedes AMG-GT3 had topped Thursday night's first qualifying session, Engel was the 20th and final driver to head out and set his two laps.

Vanthoor had laid down a time to beat of 2m18.605s behind the wheel of the #117 Team75 Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3-R, which Engel missed by just 0.055s on his first lap.

But on his second lap former DTM and Formula E racer Engel nailed a 2m18.588s to grab pole for himself and his teammates Yelmer Buurman and Luca Stolz.

"Going into qualifying I was a little bit worried we might not have a chance of pole, but as soon as I did the first three-quarters of the first lap, the car was feeling great," said Engel.

"My engineer told me that I only needed half a tenth, so I squeezed everything possible on lap two and super-happy that it worked out."

Vanthoor, who shares the #117 Porsche with Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, joked: "Maybe I should have gone to the toilet once more, it would have helped!

"If you asked me to sign [for second] before Superpole I would, but if you're on pole for a long time and then you lose it by 0.017s, you would be disappointed or you wouldn't be a racing driver."

Ferrari made it three different marques in the top three courtesy of Davide Rigon's effort of 2m18.806s at the wheel of the #72 SMP Racing 488 GT3, which had been the time to beat until it was bested by Vanthoor.

Nick Tandy put the best of the ROWE Racing Porsches in fourth, another 0.016s further back, followed by the HubAuto Corsa Ferrari driven by Daniel Serra.

Best of the Audis was the #2 Team WRT entry of Dries Vanthoor in sixth ahead of Nico Muller in the sister #1 R8 LMS and the Silver Cup-entered Attempto Racing car of Mattia Drudi.

Another Mercedes, the GruppeM car of Maxi Buhk, and the ROWE Racing Porsche driven by Mathieu Jaminet rounded out the top 10.

Aston Martin's pair of R-Motorsport Vantage GT3s ended up 12th and 13th in the hands of Maxime Martin and Jake Dennis, while the sole cars in the shootout from Lamborghini and Nissan ended up 19th and 20th after both were handed penalties.

The FFF Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Dennis Lind and the KCMG Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Katsumasa Chiyo fell foul of the rules dictating the time at which cars must leave the pits during the Superpole session.

Superpole results:

Pos. No.  Driver  Car  Time  Gap 
4 Germany Maro Engel Mercedes 2'18.588  
117 Belgium Laurens Vanthoor Porsche 2'18.605 0.017
72 Italy Davide Rigon Ferrari 2'18.806 0.218
998 United Kingdom Nick Tandy Porsche 2'18.822 0.234
227 Brazil Daniel Serra Ferrari 2'18.854 0.266
2 Belgium Dries Vanthoor Audi 2'18.923 0.335
1 Switzerland Nico Muller Audi 2'18.994 0.406
55 Italy Mattia Drudi Audi 2'19.007 0.419
999 Germany Maximilian Buhk Mercedes 2'19.013 0.425
10  98 France Mathieu Jaminet Porsche 2'19.027 0.439
11  20 France Kevin Estre Porsche 2'19.067 0.479
12  99 Norway Dennis Olsen Porsche 2'19.259 0.671
13  76 United Kingdom Jake Dennis Aston Martin 2'19.326 0.738
14  62 Belgium Maxime Martin Aston Martin 2'19.341 0.753
15  44 United Kingdom Gary Paffett Mercedes 2'19.501 0.913
16  54 Germany Klaus Bachler Porsche 2'19.881 1.293
17  129 United Kingdom Jamie Green Audi 2'19.894 1.306
18  59 United Kingdom Andrew Watson Aston Martin 2'20.470 1.882
19  563 Denmark Dennis Lind Lamborghini 2'19.095* 0.507
20  35 Japan Katsumasa Chiyo Nissan 2'19.525* 0.937

* penalised for not leaving pits at the correct time


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