In qualifying for the Spa 24 Hours, two 911 GT3 R racers fielded by Porsche’s customer teams have made it into the Super Pole.
The final hunt for the 20 best grid spots will be held today between 7.50 am and 8.20 am (CEST). After multiple qualifying sessions, GPX Racing’s entry emerged as the fastest nine-eleven. Earl Bamber (New Zealand) as well as works drivers Matt Campbell (Australia) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) set an average time of 2:19.259 minutes in their individual 15-minute segments, which put them in eighth place. Bamber turned the fastest lap of all 911 GT3 R in 2:18.878 minutes. The 24-hour classic on the 7.004-kilometre Grand Prix circuit in Belgium’s Ardennes region takes off on Saturday at 4.30 pm.
Like the two practice sessions, the evening qualifying was held on a dry track and ran into the night. The constant lapping of slower traffic among the 58-strong field as well as the good 20-minute interruption after an accident midway through the second session did little to help the twelve 911 GT3 fielded by Porsche customer teams. In addition to GPX Racing, KCMG with drivers Maxime Martin (Belgium), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and works driver Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) achieved the spot in the top 20 as the 18th fastest vehicle. In the Pro-Am class, in which professionals share driving duties with gentlemen drivers, Herberth Motorsport’s 911 GT3 R achieved the best 911 GT3 R result with the driver quartet Alfred and Robert Renauer (both Germany), Antares Au (Great Britain) and Daniel Allemann (Switzerland). In the Silver Cup for semi-professionals, the Porsche customer squad Allied Racing ranked 15th. In the Am class reserved exclusively for privateers, Haegeli by T2 Racing came out on top against Huber Motorsport.
This year’s Spa 24 Hours is regarded as the largest event for GT3 vehicles and counts towards the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup and the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC). Drivers and vehicles can earn points towards the GT World Challenge after six, twelve and 24 hours.
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “The qualifying result is somewhat sobering for Porsche. Two vehicles in the top 20 is not the result we’d expected. We’re not getting to the crux of the matter in terms of performance. We’re now facing a lot of work to find out what’s going on. Our speed over one lap doesn’t reflect our competitiveness for the race, but we also have to manage this discipline.”
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #22): “Matt Campbell experienced a difficult qualifying segment and he didn’t have a lot of luck overtaking. Still, he managed to post a decent lap time. So did Earl Bamber. That made my job for the final qualifying segment straightforward: drive a clean lap without risking a penalty for exceeding the track limits. We simply wanted to make sure we got into the Super Pole session. We achieved this with P8 and our mission for today was completed. Now let’s see what we can do tomorrow. We aim to start the race from as far up the grid as possible.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R #21): “We expected a tough qualifying with a lot overtaking and red flags, and that’s exactly what happened. Our first quali segment cost us everything because Sven Müller didn’t get a clear run and was two second off the leader. That said, probably half the field had the same experience. I managed a clear lap in the end but it wasn’t enough. Ultimately, we were just six-hundredths of a second off making it into the Super Pole. Still, the grid position at a 24-hour race isn’t so important for the end result. We just have to make sure we can gain positions without any incidents – then anything is possible.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #47): “I’m somewhat dissatisfied. Right from the start, we had a few problems with the car, which didn’t show up during the test. The car’s handling is difficult and we haven’t yet found the cause. Still, we’re in the Super Pole.”
Lars Kern (Porsche 911 GT3 R #222 – Silver Cup): “Things didn’t go smoothly for us. My first lap was voided because I drove over the track limits, then the yellow flag came out and I had to slow down. It was quite chaotic out there. At the end of the day, our starting position is okay. Maybe the luck that was missing from the qualifying will be on our side in the race.”
Alfred Renauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911 – Pro-Am Cup): “Not an easy day for us. Our car suffered serious tyre damage during the pre-qualifying, which badly damaged the car. Our boys managed to repair the Porsche as best they could. We made the most out of the qualifying. The race is over 24 hours. We’ll try to get through without making mistakes – but many penalties have been issued for exceeding the track limits. We also had some of our lap times erased because of this.”
Pieder Decurtins (Porsche 911 GT3 R #166 – Am Cup): “Things didn’t go so well for me, but Manuel Lauck, Marc Basseng and Dennis Busch were great. They had planned to be the fastest in their class. We’re on the right path.”
1.Marciello/Juncadella/Gounon (I/E/F), Mercedes-AMG GT3 #88, 2:18.433 minutes
2.Thiim/Gunn/Sorensen (DK/GB/DK), Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 #95, 2:18.867 minutes
3.Drudi/Marschall/Mies (I/D/D), Audi R8 LMS GT3 #66, 2:19.090 minutes
8.E. Bamber/Campbell/Mathieu Jaminet (NZ/AUS/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #22, + 0.825 seconds
18.Martin/Tandy/L. Vanthoor (B/GB/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #47, + 1.562 seconds
22.Estre/Lietz/Müller (F/A/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #21, + 1.689 seconds
23.Bachler/Cairoli/Engelhart (A/I/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #54, + 1.709 seconds
25.Christensen/Makowiecki/Olsen (DK/F/N), Porsche 911 GT3 R #3, + 1.911 seconds
33.Dumas/Pedersen/Rizzoli (F/DK/I), Porsche 911 GT3 R #56, + 2.368 seconds
37.Burdon/Imperatori/Liberati (AUS/CH/I), Porsche 911 GT3 R #18, + 2.566 seconds
47.Apotheloz/Buus/Kern/Santamato (CH/DK/D/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #222, + 3.564 seconds
52.Basseng/Busch/Decurtins/Lauck (D/D/CH/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #166, + 4.220 seconds
53.Jacoma/Leutwiler/Menzel/Schell (CH/CH/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #23, + 4.841 seconds
54.Allemann/Au/A. Renauer/R. Renauer (CH/GB/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #911, + 5.697 seconds
56.W. Bamber/Harker/D’Silva/Rivas (NZ/NZ/MY/L), Porsche 911 GT3 R #61, + 7.279 seconds