Mercedes-AMG were forced to concede they did not have the pace to trouble the Top 5 positions in super pole ahead of the 24 Hours of Spa, with Franck Perera their best qualifier in seventh place.
Only three of the AMG GT3s made the Top 20 shootout, with Perera the only of these to break into the Top 10 grid positions for today’s race. Stefan Wendl, the head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing programme, was pained to admit this was realistically the best they could have hoped for.
“There is no doubt that we would have liked to be a little bit further up front,” he lamented. “Franck Perera has shown in Superpole where we are approximately. In any case, we can be very happy with seventh place.
“Now, it is about pooling our strengths. The race will definitely be very tough. Our teams are very well sorted and highly motivated to show their performance over this long distance.”
Despite not having the speed to challenge for pole position, Perera was still satisfied with his seventh placed grid position, and feels they will fare better in the race itself.
“I am happy with the Superpole,” he said. “The HTP Motorsport team is doing a good job and we always find the right set-up for the Mercedes-AMG GT3. Any predictions for the race are difficult, but it will be highly interesting. We are optimistic for the start tomorrow afternoon and we will battle for victory.”
The slowest car in the super pole session was the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes piloted by Daniel Juncadella, and the Spaniard pointed out the relative insignificance of qualifying compared to the 24 hours of racing that will follow. He said their team had elected to focus on optimising their race set-up, rather than push for a better grid position.
“This is a 24-hour race, so the starting grid position isn’t really decisive,” he said. “In the qualifying sessions yesterday, we tried a few things from which we will surely benefit during the race. The car was very good and we all know what good endurance racing qualities the Mercedes-AMG GT3 has.”