Rafaelle Marciello claimed pole position for the start of the Total Spa 24 Hours under the cover of darkness in the Super Pole session. The #88 AKKA ASP machine was followed by Kelvin van der Linde and Maro Engel in a closely fought session.
Audi Sport Team WRT secured initially secured provisional pole position for the Total Spa 24 hours during the Thursday qualifying sessions with the Belgian squad’s #31 crew of Dries Vanthoor, Chris Mies and Kelvin van der Linde establishing themselves as leading contenders in the 56 car grid.
Rain began falling at the Ardennes venue shortly before qualifying began but combined with the fast approaching night, it created a tough challenge for the drivers waiting to take to the track.
The #31 WRT crew started with local ace Vanthoor posting the second-fastest lap in his qualifying session, after which Mies and then Van der Linde both set the quickest times of their respectively.
The Team WRT trio finished with a gap of 0.185s over the #12 GPX Racing Porsche of Matt Campbell, Patrick Pilet and Mathieu Jaminet. Campbell was the only other driver to top a session as he pipped Vanthoor to the top spot.
Porsche enjoyed a strong night as the #12 GPX Racing crew was one of seven 911 GT3-R runners to earn a Super Pole spot. Audi progressed through with five, while Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari had three cars. Lamborghini had two cars in with a shot at the front row of the grid.
The #89 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG is guaranteed pole position in the Silver Cup class after Alex Fontana, Lucas Lergent and Benjamin Hites produced a brilliant performance that also put them among the Super Pole contenders.
Pro-Am pole went the way of the #991 Herberth Motorsport Porsche, which will start from 35th overall and two spots clear of its closest class contender. Daniel Allemann, Ralf Bohn and Alfred and Robert Renauer set the times that added further success to Porsche’s fine qualifying showing.
The Am Cup class will be led away by the #129 Raton Racing Lamborghini. Christoph Lenz, Michael Petit, Stefano Costantini and Lucas Ayrton Mauron put the Italian squad ahead of its competitors in 51st position overall.
Anticipation for Super Pole was at fever pitch and it was Rafaelle Marciello to put in a fantastic lap to take the top spot for the start of the marquee GT3 event of the year. All the cars decided to run on the wet tires due to the mixed conditions that was experienced during the earlier warm-up session.
As the twenty competitors each made their runs it was becoming increasingly likely that the top runners from Thursday were the ones to make the most of the track conditions as the session went on. Marciello topped Engel as the leading Audis were starting their intial runs but the #66 Audi Sport Team Attempto Racing of Frederic Vervisch could only make fourth with one of his runs being deleted due to track limit infringements at Turn 4. This left Van der Linde as the only car left to challenge the Mercedes and despite splitting them on his first run, he ran wide at the exit of Pouhon which sent his car in the air and ruined his second run.
Fifth was Christopher Haase in the Sainteloc Racing machine with Thomas Preining (GPX Racing Porsche), Alessandro Pier Guidi (AF Corse Ferrari) and Andrea Calderelli (Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini) rounding out the top eight.
Tomorrow is the start of the 24 hours at 15:30 Local time and it looks as though it could be an Audi vs Mercedes-AMG shootout.