The results of the infamously changeable Spa-Francorchamps weather clearly benefitted the Belgian drivers and teams at the Total 24 Hours of Spa with home drivers taking both spots on the front row.
The field of over 60 cars participated in three spate qualifying session around the 7km Belgian track, but after the first two sessions were run in wet conditions the drying track in the final qualifying session Thursday night decided the grid order.
Paulo Ruberti lodged the championship leading AutOrlando Sport Porsche on pole position, but with times coming down with every lap a late session gearbox problem struck at almost exactly the wrong time.
“For the last five minutes I was in the box with a broken gearbox,” explained the Italian. “Better to do it today than Saturday and Sunday. The car was very fast so maybe we can fight with the other guys at the front in the race. This race is very important for the Blancpain Endurance Championship because it is double points. We need to finish the race to keep our lead. In dry conditions we are very fast also in the wet. In the medium conditions the car is not really perfect so we need to work to improve it. We hope the race will be dry but this is Spa so who knows.”
Such was the pace of improvement that though the team will still start from third their time of 2:26.713 was over two seconds down on the front row starters.
Maxime Martin took pole position for Marc VDS Racing in the BMW Z4 with a lap of 2:24.488, with his countryman Maxime Soulet second for Porsche squad Prospeed Competition just two tenths down.
“I am very happy because we only received the car one month ago,” said Martin, he and the Marc VDS squad more readily associated with field Ford GTs in GT1 and GT3 competition. “It was the second time we all had driven the car and on the first time we had problems. So this was the first time that we had the right conditions and the car's performance was good. It was a tricky lap, however we performed well and I think this is good for all the team but also for the start of the weekend. I hope we can continue like this for 24 hours.”
“I think 25 minutes before the end of the session it was decided to move onto slick tyres. It wasn't that much drier but the tyres were warmer so we got quicker and quicker. I am happy to have a Belgian front row. We worked hard all year to be here and it is great for everybody. I'd like to thank the whole team because we did such a great job in just one month.”
Martin will share the car with Marc VDS regular Bas Leinders and Marc Hennerici.
With the classes for this, the 63rd running of the 24 Hours of Spa, being along slightly unfamiliar lines as part of the inaugural Blancpain Endurance Series, the leading Pro-Am Cup class entry will line up in fourth Peter Kox driving the Blancpain–Reiter Lamborghini Gallardo he will share with Jos Menten and Marc A. Hayek during the race. Richard Westbrook, qualifying the Haribo Team Manthey Porsche fifth to take second in the Pro-Am Cup category, just a tenth shy of the Lamborghini.
Alex Buncombe set the fastest GT4 in the RJN Motorsport Nissan 370Z. He will share the car with Christopher Ward and 2010 Nissan GT Academy winner Jordan Tresson during the 24 Hours.