Ferrari grabs Spa 24 Pole Position

LIQUI-MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour winners Ferrari has continued their strong form at the pointy-end of the GT3 pack, grabbing pole position for the Spa 24 Hour this weekend in Belgium.

It’s the first time since the Total 24 Hours of Spa have been part of the Blancpain GT Series that a Ferrari will start from pole position.

James Calado clocked a superb 2m17.390, the fastest-ever lap of a GT3 car on the Spa track, at the wheel of the #55 Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari.

Mirko Bortolotti (#63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini) will be next to him on the front row, with Belgian drivers Frédéric Vervisch (#2 Audi Sport Team WRT R8) and Laurens Vanthoor (#117 KÜS Team75 Bernhard Porsche) sharing the second row.

Rainclouds threatened the Spa circuit at the start of the Superpole, but the track remained dry for the whole of the session. The times of the warm-up – held just half an hour earlier – indicated that the pole position time of the 69th edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa could possibly be the fastest lap ever.

This was quickly confirmed by René Rast (#1 Audi Sport Team WRT R8) and Laurens Vanthoor in the KÜS Team75 Bernhard Porsche, who both broke the 2m18-barrier. The Belgian’s time was 0.052 quicker than Rast’s, but the German did not stay second for long.

Jonny Adam created a surprise by clocking exactly the same time as Laurens Vanthoor, driving the #97 Oman Racing Team with TF Sport Aston Martin.  However, their 2’17.674 was not enough to start from the front row.

First Mirko Bortolotti went quicker, followed in quick succession by James Calado and Fred Vervisch. Calado’s time turned out to be fast enough to give Ferrari its first pole position since the Total 24 Hours of Spa became part of the Blancpain GT Series.

After the session, the stewards of the meeting penalised Jonny Adam for having started outside his allocated time window, deleting his fastest lap time. The Aston driver dropped to seventh, but held on to pole in the Pro-Am Cup.

James Calado (#55 Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari): “I am really happy with this pole position, although I fully realise that it is not really important in a 24-hour-race. The car felt great, but since I made a small mistake in the final corner, I did not think it would be enough. I’ll take it, though!”

Mirko Bortolotti (#63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini): “Yesterday was a bit hectic, and we left it very late to get into the top-20 for Superpole. Today went a lot better, my lap was fully committed, and I though it would be enough for pole position. James was just a fraction quicker, so congratulations to him.”

Fred Vervisch (#2 Audi Sport Team WRT R8): “It feels great to be among the frontrunners, especially considering the high level of the drivers here. But I know that a good starting position does not change a lot for the race. It is still a bit more comfortable to start at the front, though.”

Jonny Adam (#97 Oman Racing Team with TF Sport Aston Martin, 1st Pro-Am Cup): “I wanted to get up the grid as high as possible, to prove that our Aston is still a very competitive car. The fact that we have more than a dozen cars between ourselves and the next car in Pro-Am will make our life a bit easier in the early hours, but it will still be a tough race.”

The Spa 24 Hour gets underway tonight, Australian time, with coverage details available via the Blancpain GT Series website.