Excellent final sprint from Andy Priaulx gifts Ford GTE Pro pole. Conway and Kobayashi prove unbeatable in LMP1. G-Drive and TF Sport on pole in LMP2 and GTE Am respectively.
It’s Spa, so we’re going to keep talking about the weather! GTE qualifying started clear with just a few drops of rain reported during the session. Ultimately, it was Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in the #67 Ford claiming GTE Pro honours, with TF Sport taking pole in GTE Am. Things started getting worse for the LMP qualifiers, as a few drops turned into light rain. Still not quite FP2 levels of wet, but enough to provide a bit of a challenge. The #7 Toyota followed on from this morning’s success and brought the team yet another pole position.
The combination of Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway has proven impressive in the past and today was no different. An average time of 1:53.747 sets the #7 just shy of half a second clear of the #8. On the second row of the grid, we have both an SMP and a Rebellion. The #17 SMP Racing BR1 was in the hands of Egor Orudzhev and Sergey Sirotkin for this qualifying session. Their average 1:54.711 gives them third, which is only around half a second off of the #8’s average time. Fourth on the grid will be the #3 Rebellion thanks to a 1:55.640 from Gustavo Menezes and Thomas Laurent. The pattern continues with SMP’s second car in fifth and Rebellion’s #1 in sixth. The ByKolles ground to a halt on the start/finish straight and had to be recovered. A 2:02.246 was the best they could manage and they line up seventh in class, but twelfth on the overall.
G-Drive racing continue to look strong here at Spa. Jean-Eric Vergne and Job Van Uitert doing an excellent job to qualify the Aurus on LMP2 pole. Their average of 2:00.674 sits them half a second clear of the ‘Mighty 38’ Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca in second place.
“The car was absolutely amazing today,” said Vergne. “I think it was one of the best laps I’ve ever driven in my life and I’m very pleased with that. I was within 3 thousandths of breaking two minute barrier which would have been nice. But it was more the gap that we’ve made to the other guys, thanks to Job [van Uitert]’s lap. I think it was overall a very good qualifying.”
The sister JCDC car lines up third in class, with the #31 Dragonspeed alongside. In fifth and sixth you’ll find Signatech Alpine and Racing Team Nederland, while TDS Racing and Larbre Competition bring up the rear.
We had BMW and Aston Martin claiming provisional pole throughout the GTE session. However, in the end it was a brilliant last minute effort from Andy Priaulx that put the #67 Ford GT on pole position in GTE Pro. An average time of 2:12.885 puts the British pair less than a tenth ahead of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn in the #97 Aston Martin. Maxime is looking for good results here this weekend as it’s his home race. Lining up third on the grid is the #82 BMW of Antonio Félix da Costa and Augusto Farfus. Da Costa also put in a blinder of a lap – his 2:12.671 was the fastest time set during the session. The sister BMW lines up alongside the #82 in fourth, despite an excellent lap from Nicky Catsburg in the first half. The #66 Ford sits ahead of the two Porsches in sixth, while the two Ferraris round off the GTE Pro grid.
In GTE Am, pole position went to TF Sport, thanks to an average time of 2:16.061 from Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood. That’s the first pole for TF Sport and the first time Charlie Eastwood has been out and qualified the car.
“It was amazing.” Eastwood said. “It’s the first time I’ve been able to a qualifying in WEC, so to go out and get pole first time round was great. In terms of the lap it was probably one of the best I’ve ever done in the GTE car so I timed that pretty well for my first qualifying! We’ve been very close a lot of times this year, and Salih at the end just did a mega lap to become quickest driver in the session and give us pole overall.”
The pair will start the six hour race ahead of the #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche – Cairoli and Roda averaging just over a tenth behind. Then, in the second row of Am, we have another two Porsches: Team Project 1 and the second Dempsey-Proton Racing. MR Racing had a rough time as Motoaki Ishikawa hit the barriers at the top of Raidillon early in the session. He managed to get the Ferrari back to the pitlane, but that’s where it remained until the chequered flag dropped.
The Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps begins tomorrow (Saturday) at 13.30 local time.