Team representing Maserati and Corvette made the best of the typically changeable and inclement weather at Spa-Francorchamps to lead the free practice and pre-qualifying sessions for the Belgian round of the FIA GT1 World Championship.
The opening session of the weekend, which runs of a very different timetable to normal due to the series running alongside the Spa 24 Hours, also saw a milestone for the series in it's inaugural season. For the first time since the opening sessions of the first race of the season in Abu Dhabi a full grid of 24 cars took to the track, the no.14 Phoenix/Carsport Corvette returning for the first time since it suffered a dramatic fire at Silverstone.
Honours in the opening session fell to the no.2 Vitaphone Racing Maserati and to driver Enrique Bernoldi with a best lap of 2:21.028 around the 4.35 mile track. It was another triumph for the German-based team who scored their first Championship Race victory in the previous round, though that fell to the sister no.1 car that could only muster the 15th fastest time of the 80-minute session, 4.5 seconds off their teammates pace.
The changing conditions presented a shuffled timesheet, with different drivers and teams in the top five.
Seiji Ara set the second fastest time for Swiss Racing Team, ahead of Oliver Gavin in the no.12 Mad Croc Corvette. The pair of Marc VDS Racing Team Ford GTs – who have consistently been among the fastest when the championship runs in wet conditions – fourth and fifth.
The second session of the day saw significantly worse conditions and significantly slower times, Jos Menten setting the fastest time of the session in the other Mad Croc Corvette which he shares with Xavier Maassen – the top time 2:37.054.
“It was a good session and we were consistently in the top three throughout the session. The weather is being like typical Spa but to get the fastest lap we timed it just right – as the track was drying out and afterwards it remained heavily so nobody could improve their times,” said Maassen
“We then tried out some fresh wet tyres to figure out how well they run in complete wet conditions and they worked really well. We are looking good in both dry and wet conditions so this weekend should be promising. Ultimately at Spa though, you never know what is going to happen. So far so good.”
Nico Verdonck set the second fastest time of the session for Hegersport – Vitaphone's stablemates with Maserati – ahead of the two Reiter Engineering Lamborghinis, once more on form after performing well at Paul Ricard.