During both qualifying sessions the 'sweet spot' was to be found at the beginning of the session, with teams preferring to focus on the race set-up afterwards. While Maxi Götz, one of the 2013 Total 24 Hours of Spa winners, was on top at the end of the first 75-minute session, Shane Van Gisbergen took advantage of the slightly cooler temperatures at the start of the night session to edge in front of the German driver. The polesitter of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour lapped the Spa track in 2'18.474, only three tenths above last year's pole position time.
Dani Juncadella's first session lap time was good enough to put his #56 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG on top of the Pro-Am Cup, but since four Pro-Am Cup cars qualified for Friday's Superpole, pole position in the category will be decided at the same time as the overall pole position.
However, in the Am Cup and the National Group the fight for the best starting position was decided during the two qualifying sessions. Niki Cadei only needed three laps in the #888 Kessel Racing Ferrari to claim top spot in the Am Cup (and 36th overall), while the duel between the two National Group Porsche 911 GT3 Cup was decided in favour of the #230 SpeedLover car, with Grégory Paisse setting the fastest time in the first session.
With the starting positions 21 to 65 decided this evening, the top-20 positions will be determined during Friday's Superpole, which starts at 18.00. Since 24 cars qualified within the same second on Thursday, the fight for the best starting position promises to be exciting. The 30-minute session will be streamed live on the websites of the Total 24 Hours of Spa and the Blancpain GT Series.
Shane van Gisbergen (#58 Garage 59 McLaren): “It was a pretty tough start to the day with the weather but it got better and better. The car was not too good to begin with but we chipped away at the set-up and got there in the end. We were 19th at the end of the first qualifying session, so right on the edge and needed to do a better job tonight! Of course, that has only got us into the Super Pole shootout but we are happy with where we are.”
Maxi Götz (#86 AMG-Team HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG): “I think the best time in practice was a 2m18.6s and I managed a point-five in qualifying. There were not many drivers under the 2m19s barrier either. I just wanted to get out there and find a space, which I managed to do. After that we were fairly confident no-one would beat the time.”
Dani Juncadella (#56 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG): “My first experience here in the car was a few weeks ago racing in British GT, and we lacked a bit of pace. So obviously it is really nice to be sitting here. We made a big step with the set-up today; in Pre-Qualifying I was one second off but pulled out a really good lap this evening. I would like to be greedy and try for a good outright grid position tomorrow, but we know there will be a big fight to win the Pro-Am class, which is our main goal. But seeing the result today obviously makes me want to go for overall pole!”
Nicola Cadei (#888 Kessel Racing Ferrari): “I only needed three laps in the end, although we did spend some time fine-tuning the car during Pre-Qualifying. During my first lap I found a car in the middle of Blanchimont, which spoiled that run and kept us out of the Super Pole, which was our initial aim.”
Grégory Paisse (#230 SpeedLover Porsche): "It's my first time in this event, so it's a bit of a dream come true. It's fantastic to drive here, with the best GT cars and drivers in the world. I don't have words to describe my feelings."
Useful information - Total 24 Hours of Spa
When: 26th – 31st July 2016
Tickets : from 15 €
General Entrance : 30 € (includes free entrance on Thursday and Friday)
General Entrance + paddock : 60 €
Children aged 12 or under, accompanied by an adult, enter for free
Sales on: www.24hoursofspa and www.ticketmaster.be
Friday July 29th
Super Pole 18:00-18:30
Saturday July 30th
Warm Up 09:05-09:25
Starting procedure & Grid walk 15:40-16:30
Start of the Total 24 hours of Spa 16:30
Information & reservation : www.24hoursofspa.com / www.blancpain-gt-series.com
Facebook : 24 hours of Spa & Blancpain GT Series
Twitter : @24hoursofspa #SPA24H / @blancpaingt #Blancpaingt
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Blancpain - Innovation is our Tradition
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit.
From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past ten years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 35 new calibres.
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 L-evolution 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.
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
SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.
In 2016, SRO Motorsports Group promotes several championships and series, such as the Blancpain
GT Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa, the British GT Championship, the Blancpain Sports Club with the Blancpain GT Sports Club and the Blancpain Ultracar Sports Club, the Competition 102 GT4 European Series and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
SRO Motorsports Group runs also the SRO Race Centre by MMC - a high-level technical centre at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France - and Curbstone, that provides ultimate track driving opportunities on world renowned race circuits in Western Europe for supercar owners, as well as test driving facilities for race car drivers.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.