Audi In Front In 24 Hours of Spa Pre-Qualifying

by Jean-Paul Hackett
Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, Audi R8 LMS, GT3, #1, Alex Riberas, Christopher Mies, Dries Vanthoor, Total 24 Hours of Spa Spa Francorchamps Spa Belgium © Craig Robertson

Audi Sport Team WRT led a one-two for the German brand in pre-qualifying for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, with Alex Riberas putting his #1 R8 LMS on top during the final quarter of the session.

The Spanish ace lapped 0.181 seconds clear of the #25 Audi Sport Team Sainteloc entry, which is seeking to defend the outright victory it secured at Spa 12 months ago. Despite Audi leading the way, it was another competitive session, with seven brands featuring among the top-10.

Heavy rain showers hit Spa between free practice and pre-qualifying. While the racing line had mostly dried up by the time cars took to the track at 18.15, there were still visible wet patches. The rain did not discourage the drivers from venturing out, however, with almost the entire field pouring on to the circuit when the session went green. Within just a few minutes, 60 cars had taken to the 7km track.

And nor did it prevent a significant improvement on the lap times recorded earlier in the day. More than a dozen drivers quickly beat the best effort set in free practice, while Markus Winkelhock became the first this year to get below the 2:20 mark in his Audi Sport Team Sainteloc R8 LMS.

The German driver was then knocked off the top of the times by the similar Audi Sport Team WRT machine of Riberas, which circulated in 2m19.758s and remained in front until the chequered flag flew. The third spot went to the #117 KUS Team75 Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3, with 2014 Spa winner Laurens Vanthoor setting the lap for the German squad.

Outside the Pro class, the quickest runner was the #991 Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GTR. The Am Cup machine took an impressive 12th overall and lapped 0.7s shy of the pace-setting Audi.

The #49 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 entry was the fastest Pro Am runner, takingtwenty-first overall, while in Silver Cup the #12 Ombra Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 led its class with the 28th best lap of the session. The #6 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 was the only car not to run in pre-qualifying following an accident in free practice.

Pre-qualifying ended just over a minute early when the #18 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Antonelli Motorsport stopped towards the end of the lap, though this was the only noteworthy incident of the one-hour session.

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