Martin and Vanthoor ready for Superpole shoot-out
Maxime Martin and Laurens Vanthoor start as joint favourites in Friday's Superpole with 0.009 seconds separating them.
Two Belgian drivers Maxime Martin (#46 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS) and Laurens Vanthoor (#1 Audi Sport Team WRT) set the fastest times in qualifying for the 2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa. Both start as joint favourites in Friday's Superpole with 0.009 seconds separating them. Third overall Andrea Piccini (#11 Kessel Racing Ferrari) was the fastest driver in the Pro-Am Cup and in the Am Cup the #10 Akka ASP Ferrari starts as best, thanks to the efforts of Jean-Philippe Belloc.
Twenty-four cars were covered by the same second, with eight different brands qualifying for the Superpole, confirming the high level of competitiveness of this year's edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
I have to admit I was a bit worried before the weekend,
Frantic action occurred at the start of the first qualifying session at 20.00, as drivers realised that the conditions were probably ideal for setting a fast time. Both Martin and Vanthoor needed only a couple of laps to set a scorcher, both beating last year's pole time by a considerable margin and the difference between the BMW and the Audi was only nine thousands of a second.
Other drivers were less fortunate in setting their fastest times. Some were penalised for not respecting track limits and, after repeated infringements, some cars lost their fastest times at the end of the first session and were relegated to outside of the Top-20 Super Pole places. The #8 M-Sport Bentley and the #47 AF Corse Ferrari were among them but while the latter, the fastest car in Pre-Qualifying, could not get back into the 20 cars qualified for Friday's Superpole, Maxime Soulet managed to get the Bentley back up to 16th. The #47 Ferrari will start the race from 22nd, sharing the 11th row of the grid with team-mates in the #52 AF Corse Ferrari, itself the fastest car in free practice, that finished 21st with Toni Vilander at the wheel missing the cut by the smallest of differences: 0.001 of a second.
Among the other cars outside the top-20 are the Series leaders, the #23 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN starts 27th, and both GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghinis; 40th position for the #63 car and 55th for the #19, which suffered heavy damage during the Pre-Qualifying session but was repaired in time to perform its mandatory Night Qualifying laps.
Maxime Martin (#46 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS): "The start of the first qualifying session was probably the best moment to set a good lap time, but in the overall picture of the weekend it's not that important. There is still the Superpole on Friday and a long, very long race after that."
Laurens Vanthoor (#1 Audi Sport Team WRT): "I have to admit I was a bit worried before the weekend, since we did not seem to have the pace to be in front. But after these qualifying sessions, it feels good to be on the same pace as the BMW. But as Maxime said, there is still a long way to go."
Andrea Piccini (#11 Kessel Racing Ferrari, 1st Pro-Am Cup): "I have not been at the wheel of a racing car since last year's Total 24 Hours of Spa, so I am very surprised to be able to set the third time overall. I have to say that the car was wonderful since the start of the weekend. Can we threaten the two guys in front during the Superpole? We will certainly try."
Jean-Philippe Belloc (#10 Akka ASP Ferrari, 1st Am Cup): "After some incidents during the first couple of sessions of the day, it feels very good to be able to give the mechanics and the team the reward they deserve. Being on pole in the Am Cup is nice, but everything happens during the race. But I have to say, since I won this event in 2001 a lot has changed!"
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