A time from Dirk Werner in the earliest laps of the first qualifying session for the 2014 Total 24 Hours of Spa was enough to give the #77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS entry provisional pole after the first of the two back-to-back sessions.
Werner, who shares the car with Markus Palttala and Lucas Luhr, was one of a number of drivers who quickly eclipsed the best time of the practice and pre-qualifying sessions with a lap of 2:19.089. His lap stood strong throughout the 1-hour, 15 minute session. Christopher Mies was second fastest in the #3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 LMS ultra he shares with Frank Stippler and James Nash.
The cars in third and fourth fastest were two of those that arrived in the top ten after the initial stages. While the #98 McLaren MP4-12C from ART Grand Prix remained stuck in the pits with repairs after Alvaro Parente’s heavy crash in the morning’s practice session Kevin Estre placed the #99 entry third fastest while Alessandro Pier Guidi was fourth fastest in AF Corse’s #50 Ferrari 458, leading the Pro-Am Cup contingent in the practice.
With a best lap of 2:29.380 the Italian, who qualified second for the race last year, was relatively comfortably clear of his nearest rivals in class, coincidentally in the form of the Beechdean AMR team that beat his to pole twelve months ago. However, while four places in the overall standings separated the top two Pro-Am runners only a fraction more than three tenths of a second lay between their best times as all of the top 13 set best times with a second of Werner’s provisional pole.
Third fastest in Pro-Am, one place behind and five-hundredths slower than the Beechdean Aston were Ecurie Ecosse who lead the class early on through Alexander Sims’ 2:29.745. The two British teams lay between a pair of the HTP Motorsport entered Mercedes SLS AMG GT3, the #86 entry completing the top ten with the #84 seventh fastest. Ahead of them were the #1 and #26 Audis belonging to Team WRT and Sainteloc Racing respectively.
The third entries from both the HTP and WRT stables as well as the second Marc VDS BMW and both Pro-Am Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R GT3 NISMO were among the top 20, as was the #7 M-Sport Bentley of the Blancpain Endurance Series championship leaders and the Von Ryan Racing McLaren MP4-12C, they the first ‘bubble’ team with a time of 2:20.448. Their standing is potentially important, with the 20 fastest teams from the combined qualifying times progressing to Friday evening’s SuperPole session. However, with night qualifying remaining the teams to contest to contest the shootout could still be shuffled once more.
AF Corse’s #49 team was the fastest of the Gentlemen Trophy teams in 50th overall.
Though designated as the ‘day’ qualifying as opposed to the night session just a half hour later the session ran long into total darkness due to a pair of red flag periods. The first came after the Gentlemen Trophy GT Corse by Rinaldi entry – that has won the class in each of the three rounds this season – hit the barriers at turn eight, the second when the Insight Racing Ferrari needed to be towed to a place of safety after crawling to a halt.