The typically Spa weather produced one of the most exciting ends to a qualifying session at the Total 24 Hours of Spa for many as times tumbled as the track dried. At the chequered flag it was Belgium’s Maxime Martin in the Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4 who claimed the top spot with a lap of 2m24.488, to the head of the 62 car field for the 63rd edition of the 24 Hours of Spa. The Belgian domination in qualifying was completed when Maxime Soulet took the second place on the front row in the Prospeed Competition Porsche 997 GT3 R, just 0.2 seconds behind the BMW Z4.
Championship leaders AutOrlando Sport looked to be heading for the top spot until top gear failed on the Porsche with just minutes remaining forcing Paolo Ruberti to back off on what could have been his fastest lap. However the 2:26.713 lap was good enough for 3rd on the grid, just 0.1 second ahead of the first Pro-Am Cup car, the nr24 Blancpain-Reiter Lamborghini Gallardo of Peter Kox, who in turn managed to edge out the HariboTeam Manthay Porsche 997 of Richard Westbrook.
There was joy for the Sport Garage team as the hard work they did in rebuilding the Ferrari 430 Scuderia after a crash earlier in the day paid off and Lionel Comole ended the qualifying session on pole position for the Gentlemen Trophy. The Cup Class pole went to Tom Langeberg in the Belgian nr104 Speed Lover Porsche 997 GT3 Cup. However the car was later handed a penalty by the stewards for using unmarked tyres and the qualifying times from Q2 Night were cancelled. The Cup Class pole was handed to the nr56 RMS Porsche of Thierry Stepnec.
Alex Buncombe brought the nr63 RJN Motorsport Nissan 370Z to head the GT4 class with a last lap of 2:41.276, which was good enough for 44th overall.
The drivers now have a rest day before the challenge begins at 4pm on Saturday afternoon for the 2011 Total 24 Hours of Spa. Live coverage can be found on satellite and terrestrial TV around the world. Details of the coverage, as well as live streaming, can be found on the Blancpain Endurance Series website at www.blancpain-endurance-series.com
CLICK HERE for the full result from the three Qualifying Sessions (AMENDED RESULT)
Maxime Martin, Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4 nr.40 (1st)
“I am very happy because we only received the car one month ago. It was the second time we all had driven the car and on the first time we had problems. So this was the first time that we had the right conditions and the car’s performance was good. It was a tricky lap, however we performed well and I think this is good for all the team but also for the start of the weekend. I hope we can continue like this for 24 hours.
“I think 25 minutes before the end of the session it was decided to move onto slick tyres. It wasn’t that much drier but the tyres were warmer so we got quicker and quicker. I am happy to have a Belgian front row. We worked hard all year to be here and it is great for everybody. I’d like to thank the whole team because we did such a great job in just one month.”
Maxime Soulet, Prospeed Competition Porsche 997 nr75 (2nd)
“To be on the front row of the grid at the 24 Hours of Spa is a dream come true. I am speechless! It is great for Porsche that we have two cars in the top three in Qualifying and it is a great feeling. I think that the car will be fine in the race and it is the same challenge for everybody at the weekend. The Prospeed Competition team is very happy – I’ve not seen our team principal happier!”
Paulo Ruberti, AutOrlando Sport Porsche 997 GT3 R
“For the last five minutes I was in the box with a broken gearbox. Better to do it today than Saturday and Sunday. The car was very fast so maybe we can fight with the other guys at the front in the race. This race is very important for the Blancpain Endurance Championship because it is double points. We need to finish the race to keep our lead. In dry conditions we are very fast also in the wet. In the medium conditions the car is not really perfect so we need to work to improve it. We hope the race will be dry but this is Spa so who knows.”
Lionel Comole, Sport Garage Ferrari 430 Scuderia nr22
“The team has worked very hard. The car was very damaged (in Free Practice). It’s amazing for me to be here. It’s only my 8th race and the first time I drove at night and the first time at Spa. I suffer from an arthritic disease. It’s a terrible disease and it’s very important to give money to the research into the disease because a lot of people suffer from it. In order to give more money, my car will give 10 euros per kilometre in the 24 Hours of Spa and I hope we will get to the end of the race because it will mean that we can give €305,000 to the cause.”
Alex Buncombe, RJN Motorsport Nissan 370Z nr63 GT4
“It was a mixed up day with the weather. We hadn’t had dry conditions all day so it was good to get the slick tyres on at the end. It’s fantastic to be on pole but as we all know it’s a 24-hour race and many things can happen. The team have been working extremely hard with the car and all we can do is keep our fingers crossed for the weekend.”
Blancpain, a tradition of innovation for over 275 years
In 1735, Jehan-Jacques Blancpain began his watchmaking activity and installed his first workshop on the upper floor of his family home in Villeret, a village in the Swiss Jura mountains. By inscribing his name in the official communal property register, this pioneer created an establishment that is now the world’s oldest watch brand.
Throughout its history, Blancpain has succeeded in maintaining solid continuity in its capacity for innovation and its respect for traditional horological values. Whether by perfecting complications, designs and production methods, or by exploring new horizons, the Manufacture has been devoted for more than 275 years to taking the art of watchmaking to places it has never yet ventured. From the first models created in the 18th century to the prestigious timepieces currently emerging from its workshops, Blancpain has forged an authentic tradition of innovation. The key to its success lies in the mastery of all fields involved in making an exceptional mechanical timepiece – from the creation of the movement and its components through to the functional design of the watch, along with the choice of materials and the extremely refined and entirely hand-crafted finishing.
Without ever straying from its precious heritage, the brand steadfastly pursues its quest for performance, precision and elegance by offering a range of exceptional timepieces equipped with the most sophisticated horological complications. The nature of its collections – including the pure lines of the Villeret, the efficient complexity of Le Brassus, and the avant-garde design of L-evolution – is firmly rooted in watchmaking traditions while constantly pushing them towards new limits. In the same way, the ladies’ collection celebrates beauty and refinement, while the Sport collection is composed of instrument watches that are ready to face any situation on land, under water or in the air.
While remaining unswervingly loyal to its values, Blancpain regularly associates with partners that share its passion for excellence. Whether in the field of motorsports, sailing, scuba diving, or that of gastronomy and the art of living, the Manufacture is proud of its partnerships that represent far more than mere co-branding. On the contrary, Blancpain commits itself fully to such forms of cooperation by joining forces with its partners in a determination to excel and to foster both creativity and authenticity.
Info: Blancpain endurance series
Photos: Marc Reynders/AmigosRacing
Info: Blancpain endurance series
Photos: Marc Reynders/AmigosRacing
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