Defending Winner Fastest in First Spa 24 Hours Session

by James Broomhead
Bernd Schneider was the fastest man as the Spa 24 Hours action opened (Credit: Brecht Decancq Photography)

One of the three Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 from defending race winners HTP Motorsport that started off the Total 24 Hours of Spa weekend fastest.

Bernd Schneider, one of the three drivers who stood atop the podium at the end of last year, lapped the seven kilometre track in 2:22.094 to lead the 90 minute long free practice session on Thursday morning.

Schneider will share the Pro Cup #84 Mercedes with Nico Verdonck and Harold Primat over the weekend. The other winning drivers from 2013, Maximilian Gotz and Maximilian Buhk share the HTP team’s #86 with Jazeman Jaafar. Their machine was third fastest in the session, less than half a second slower than Schneider’s lap. The third HTP entry also finished the session in the top ten, eighth fastest as they put down an early marker for their rivals.

Between the pair of SLS lay the #66 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS entry, Joerg Muller the fastest man in the car that he will share with Maxime Martin and Augusto Farfus.

Audis from Belgian Audi Club WRT and Sainteloc Racing completed the top five, the latter trio – Stephane Ortelli, Gregory Guilvert and Edward Sandstrom the best placed of the chief Blancpain Endurance Series championship contenders.

The pair of M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 were only 29th and 30th fastest overall. However, there was worse still for the #98 ART Grand Prix McLaren when Alvaro Parente crashed the car, causing one of the two red flags that saw nearly a third of the session go by without cars on track. Parente’s off caused the second stoppage, the first trigged by Andrew Danyliw’s off in the #50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 that none the less was the fastest of the Pro-Am cup runners in sixth overall.

AF Corse led the Gentlemen Trophy class 2:25.152 turned by Jan Marc Bachelier in the team’s #49 Ferrari. The #51 entry, another from the huge AF Corse stable was second fastest in the class.

The team were also well placed in the Pro-Am Cup category with their teams fourth, sixth and eighth in class, led by the #53 entry featuring Andrea Bertolini and Marco Cioci. The Anglo-Irish team of Matt Griffin, Duncan Cameron and Alex Mortimer were sixth in their #54 car with the #52 team that counts Craig Lowndes amongst its drivers completing the AF Corse runners in the class’ top ten.

The best of the teams familiar to followers of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship completed the top ten in the class, the MP Motorsport AMR team of Mark Poole, Richard Abra, Joe Osborne and Darren Turner 20th fastest overall, their best time a 2:23.645.

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