In an updated and much improved Aquilla CR1 Bob Berridge took pole position for the British Endurance Championship (BEC) race at Spa-Francorchamps, besting the field by nearly four-and-a-half second around the 7km Belgian track.
Though rain had blighted the rest of Saturday's running a break in the weather before the 30 minute qualifying session meant the travelling BEC and Dunlop Production GTN contingent went out on a track with a dry line emerging all the time.
“The track was dry, but in a six foot band,” assessed Berridge after the session.
“It was one of those deals where the last lap was the fastest, the track was drying all the time,” he continued. “There was a dry line so it was just a question of making sure you had a clear lap so you didn't have to go off line.” and stay on line and get your lap in at five minutes before the end – which is exactly what I did.”
Aboard the Aquilla, complete with a new underfloor, rear wing and splitter for the race, Berridge recorded a time of 2:25.566 – three second faster than he went in yesterday's practice session – on the eighth of the nine laps turned by the car.
Also reprising its practice pace was the Class Two GT3 Racing Dodge Viper of Aaron Scott and Craig Wilkins, Scott putting the red KG&TC sponsored car second fastest, ahead of four supposedly faster Class 1 cars.
The early pace was set by Martin Short in his Mosler – entered dually in the BEC and the Dutch Supercar Challenge, before Berridge began to improve on his own race lap after lap, taking two second off his own marker to take a commanding pole position.
Javier Morcillo could do no better than third as his streak of pole positions in the Azteca Motorsport Mosler finally drew to a close with Flat–Six.co.uk's Rapier fourth, another to improve in the final laps as the dry line became more and more pronounced.
Thruxton runners-up Paul Bailey and Andy Schulz beat the Hawthorns Motorsport Porsche of Class Three pole by a fraction of a second, the pair again beating several teams from higher classes.
Mark Cunningham secured the first Production Class 1 pole – and a “genuine pole” as he described it – for he and his father Peter in their Seat Leon, beating off strong competition from the like of Strata 21, TF Motorsport, Topcats Racing and Intersport for the position and 11th fastest overall.
“Awesome,” the younger Cunningham summed up the session. “You can't ask for better – my sort of conditions and I think that was the point – there was ample grip to be had out there if you wanted to go chasing it. The trouble is you had to pin point because the minute you stepped a inch off line you're going backwards.”
He also described a particular problem of Berridge's “six foot bad” of dry track, for those driving the slower production cars, who will race alongside the BEC entrants in tomorrow's 100 minute race.
“You go off line and you lose your temperatures and it takes a lap to get them back up. Even with the faster cars coming through you have to be stubborn and stay on your line, and let them go past you. I know it's a bit selfish, but we're all after the same thing.”
The race is scheduled to begin at 4:20pm local (3:20pm UK time)