Bruni’s Quick, Early Lap Leads Spa 24 Pre-Qualifying


Gianmaria Bruni set the best lap of the session on only his third lap of the session (Credit: Tom Loomes Photography)

An lap early in the 60 minute pre-qualifying session by Gianmaria Bruni made sure that the session was topped by the #47 AF Corse Ferrari, keeping the team’s Pro-Am entries at the head of the field for the second consecutive session at the 2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa.

After Alessando Pier Guidi had put the car second fastest in the free practice session Bruni needed only three laps to lap the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in 2:18.986 seconds, nearly 1.5 seconds faster than Toni Vilander had gone in the sister entry to paced the first session. Vilander was the fastest man in the #52 again in the session, but his best effort could only give the crew the 28th best lap of the session.

Initially Bruni, who also shares his car with Stephane Lemeret and Pasin Lathouras, was almost a second faster than anyone else, Marcel Fassler offering up the best resistance to the Prancing Horse stampeding towards the top of the time. However, the triple Le Mans winner – sharing the #6 Audi with his LMP1 teammate Andre Lotterer and Mike Rockenfeller – would be shuffled back down the order over the rest of the hour, finishing the session in sixth, fourth among those teams in the Pro Cup class.

Top honours in the premier class went to Laurens Vanthoor, who was second fastest overall in the #1 Audi R8 LMS crewed by the same trio who left Spa victorious last year. In the car he shares with Rene Rast and Markus Winkelhock, though, he was still more than half a second slower than Bruni’s time on 2:19.528.

Bruno Spengler was responsible for setting the best BMW lap, the Canadian DTM regular third fastest in the ROAL Motorsport Z4 GT3 he shares with Alex Zanardi and Timo Glock.

Ecurie Ecosse were fourth fastest, BMW factory driver, Alexander Sims the best man of the all-British Pro-Am Cup crew completed by Oliver Bryant, Alasdair McCaig and Devon Modell. BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS’ #46 completed a hattrick of BMWs in the top five, Markus Palttala lifting the car with a lap of 2:19.765.

Behind the #6 Audi Sport Team Phoenix R8 LMS the #3 Team WRT Audi – one of the older spec R8 LMS ultra, the second of the Marc VDS BMW, TDS Racing’s #12 BMW and the lone Nissan GT Academy Team RJN entry in the Pro Cup class completed the top ten.

The other Nissan in the pro class – run by MRS GT Racing – was the victim of an incident out on track. Martin Plowman reported being hit from behind by the #8 Bentley, the shove enough to put the red GT-R into the barriers damaging the right-rear corner and the driveshaft of the machine.

The #19 – one of Grasser Racing Team’s Lamborghini Huracans – was another to find the barriers with costly consequences. The driver was able to limp away from the tyres at the top of Raidillion, front bodywork damage leaving the car trailing smoke. However, he only made it round to turn nine – the nameless left hander before Pouhon – before pulling off the track.

Team Parker Racing were again the best team in the Am Cup, though after their free practice top ten heroics Benny Simonsen’s lap of 2:21.842 was only 39th fastest overall. The team’s line-up is completed by Ian Loggie, Callum MacLeod and Julian Westwood.

The 24 Hours of Spa weekend continues with the qualifying session starting at 8pm local time (7pm UK). The night qualifying session follows immediately afterwards, starting at 9:45pm local (8:45pm UK).