Endurance Racing

Kechele Heads BMW Bossing Of Spa 24 Qualifying

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Kechele led the way for Vita4One and BMW (Photo Credit: Markus Berns/SRO)

Frank Kechele led a BMW 1-2 in Thursday night's qualifying for the 2012 Total 24 Hours of Spa, lapping the 7km Ardennes track in 2:19.473 to claim the best time set in either of the two 75 minute session that brought the 65 car field into the Belgian night in preparation for the weekend's endurance race.

In the Vita4One Racing Team z4 he shares with Greg Franchi – winner last year in an Audi – and Mathias Lauda Kechele was eight tenths faster than the Marc VDS Racing Z4 shared by Markus Palttala, Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin. The pair of Z4 were both nearly two-tenths clear of the surprising Alvaro Parente, who hauled the Von Ryan Racing McLaren MP4-12C into third overall to lead the Pro-Am Cup class, the #5 of Boutsen Ginion Racing making it a 1-2 result for Woking's GT3 car in the most numerous – and arguably – competitive class in this year's race.

Despite the undoubted star power in the cockpit, and despite setting the best time of the second session the Team Phoenix combination of Tom Kristensen, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer only ended up 13th in the combined times, and that on the strength of the first session effort having run a tenth slower in the second session where only eight cars in the field improved upon their earlier times.

One spot behind in terms of combined times was the Preci-Spark Mercedes of David and Godfrey Jones, Mike Jordan and Bernd Schneider. The quartet only managed four laps in the second session a blown front tyre causing significant damage to the front of the SLS.

They were not the only team to suffer in the sessions. The #87 Cup Class Porsche suffered a similar tyre problem just moments earlier. However, the biggest problem belongs to ASM Team after Karim Ojjeh crashed their McLaren heavily at Eau Rouge during the opening session, though a time already set remained fast enough to claim twentieth fastest and so stake a claim to a place in Friday afternoon's Super Pole session the top 20 cars fighting for pole for Saturday's race start.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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