Raffaelle Marciello fastest in qualifying for the Total 24 Hours of Spa

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With rain announced for Thursday evening, most teams and drivers chose to go for a quick qualifying lap during the first of two qualifying sessions. After the usual skirmishes, Raffaele Marciello in the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG came out on top, a mere 0.113 quicker than the #2 Audi Sport Team WRT R8 of Fred Vervisch.

James Calado, driving the #55 Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari, ended the first session in third… and those positions did not change during the second session, even though the expected rain did not appear.

Behind the top three, some of the favourites used that second session to get into the top-20, in order to secure their ticket for Friday’sSuperpole. The most notable of those were the leaders in the Blancpain GT Series driver standings, the drivers of the #63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini. Eventually Mirko Bortolotti clocked the sixth time.

With a whopping 36 cars within the same second – which is a record, by the way – some cars missed the Superpole session by the tiniest of margins: the #5 Audi Sport Team WRT R8 of Dries Vanthoor and multiple Le Mans 24 hours-winners Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer was only 0.004 short of a position in the top-20.

Only one Pro-Am car made it to the Superpole this year, thanks to a flyer from Jonny Adam at the wheel of the #97 Oman Racing Team with TF Sport Aston Martin. The Monza Pro-Am Cup winner beat the next car in Pro-Am – the #912 Herberth Motorsport Porsche – by less than a quarter of a second, but that was enough to put fourteen other cars in between them.

Fastest of the Am Cup drivers was again David Perel, at the wheel of the #888 Kessel Racing Ferrari. The South African finished up in 47th overall. Just like last year, Gregory Paisse took the pole position in the Groupe National, at the wheel of the #991 Speedlover Porsche.

The qualifying sessions were marred by two heavy crashes. Both the #00 Good Smile Racing & Team Ukyo Mercedes-AMG and the #22 Motul Team RJN Motorsport Nissan hit the tyre barriers in the Raidillon, fortunately without consequences for the drivers. Both teams will do their utmost to get their cars ready in time.

Raffaelle Marciello (#90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG): “This quickest time is not really important, since we still have the Superpole tomorrow. But it’s good to know that we will be near the sharp end of the starting grid, which could be an advantage for the opening hours of the race.”

Frédéric Vervisch (#5 Audi Sport Team WRT R8): “It’s not so easy to improve your time in the dark. In theory you have some more power, but because the vision is a bit less, you lose time, almost without noticing it. That is why we tried to get our fastest time in the first session.”

Vincent Vosse (Team Manager Audi Sport): “We are happy to have three cars in the top-20, but this has been such a crazy qualifying session, with 20 cars only separated by just over four tenths of a second. I think the people of SRO can be very proud of their work.”

James Calado (#55 Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari): “We will probably need a perfect lap to get pole position, but in the end the race is much more important. We will try our best though.”

Jonny Adam (#97 Oman Racing Team with TF Sport Aston Martin, 1st Pro-Am Cup): “This pole in Pro-Am is good for us, since we get an extra point for the championship. The car felt good tonight, everybody’s happy in the team.”

David Perel (#888 Kessel Racing Ferrari, 1st Am Cup): “I’m pretty happy! We improved in the night quali, which wasn’t easy. It’s not easy to pick up your brake markers, for example. But the car is one piece, we are completely ready for the race.”

Gregory Paisse (#991 Speedlover Porsche): “The car was fantastic all through the night, we could even keep up with some of the GT3 cars. The little blue men on our car brought us luck, that’s for sure!”

 

Blancpain - Innovation is our tradition

Since 1735, Blancpain has been contributing to the development of mechanical watchmaking, while conserving the traditional skills of its founder

From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the sportive Levolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.

Over the past nine years, Blancpain has emerged as a pre-eminent force in the field of motorsport and established a leading profile among automobile manufacturers, drivers, and spectators. The Manufacture has become an international benchmark in GT racing through its partnerships such as the Blancpain GT Series Europe (including the Blancpain Endurance Series and the Blancpain Sprint Series), the Blancpain GT Series Asia, the Blancpain Sports Club and the British GT Championship. Watchmaking and automotive mechanics meet and mingle, as Blancpain thrives on being in the heat of the action by serving as official timekeeper.

Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier

Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.

Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.

Total - Official Sponsor of the Total 24 Hours of Spa

Energy is vital to economic development and improved standards of living. Wherever it is available, energy is helping to drive progress, but sustainability requires changes in the way that it is used and managed. This is the environment in which we conduct our business.

With operations in more than 130 countries, Total is a top-tier international oil company and a world-class natural gas operator, refiner, petrochemical producer, and fuel and lubricant retailer.

Our nearly 99,000 employees leverage their globally acknowledged expertise so that together they can discover, produce, refine and distribute oil and gas to provide products and services for customers worldwide.
We are also broadening our offering by developing energies that can partner oil and gas — today, solar energy and tomorrow, biomass.

As a responsible corporate citizen, we focus on ensuring that our operations consistently deliver
economic, social and environmental benefits.

SRO Motorsports Group - The architect of modern GT Racing

Since 1995 SRO has specialised in the promotion and organisation of motorsport series. Inextricably linked with GT racing’s revival, SRO predominantly promotes categories that adhere to its successful GT3 and GT4 regulations. Indeed, these rules - a common framework allowing manufacturers, teams and drivers to compete equally with one another - has helped establish SRO as the global leader in customer GT racing.

Today, SRO’s influence and organisation can be seen around the world. SRO's flagship is the European-based Blancpain GT Series, which combines the Sprint and Endurance Cups, of which the iconic Total 24 Hours is the highlight.

The same regulations and Balance of Performance parameters governing the Blancpain GT Series have been adopted in the United States by the Pirelli World Challenge (in which SRO is also a major shareholder), while the inaugural Blancpain GT Series Asia has been successfully launched in 2017.

In addition, the world’s greatest GT3 races from all four corners of the globe are brought together under the umbrella of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, which includes the LiquiMoly Bathurst 12 Hour, Motul Sepang 12 Hours, Total 24 Hours of Spa, as well as the new high-profile California 8 Hours. Amateur drivers are also fully catered for via the Blancpain GT Sports Club.

Likewise, select European race weekends feature the GT1 Ultracar Sports Club where the world’s fastest and most technologically advanced limited-production road and track-only cars gather to demonstrate their awesome capabilities. This very exclusive series also includes the finest racers to have ever graced the world GT championships’ premier category from 1994 to 2011.

SRO is also strong domestically. The multi-class British GT Championship, which it has presided over since 2005, pairs GT3 with GT4 machinery, while France’s national series - now known as the GT4 European Series Southern Cup / FFSA French GT championship – has been added to its existing Northern Cup counterpart.

SRO also operates the SRO Race Centre by MMC - a high-level technical centre at Paul Ricard Circuit in southern France - and Curbstone Track Events, which provides ultimate track driving opportunities on Europe’s most iconic circuits.

SRO Motorsports Group is chaired by company founder and CEO Stephane Ratel and has offices in London, Paris, Hong Kong and Liège

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