The KÜS Team75 Bernhard squad has concluded the qualifying for the Spa 24-hour race on position eight. Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) lapped the 7.004-kilometre circuit at the wheel of the #117 Porsche 911 GT3 R in a time of 2:19.843 minutes. With this result, the KÜS Team75 Bernhard has qualified for Friday’s Super Pole, where the 20 fastest cars will fight for the best grid positions for the 24-hour marathon in the Ardennes.
A new qualifying format for the long-distance classic in Belgium was introduced this year: Each driver in a vehicle is given 15 minutes to turn a fast lap. The final qualifying time is determined by the average of the fastest laps set by all drivers in a team.
Driving for Manthey-Racing, Frédéric Makowiecki, Romain Dumas (both France) and Dirk Werner (Germany) also qualified for the top-20 session. With their Porsche 911 GT3 R (#911), the trio achieved a time of 2:20.144 minutes, which ultimately put them on 13th place.
Putting in a strong qualifying performance, Herberth Motorsport planted the #991 Porsche 911 GT3 R on second place in the Am-category. The crew from Black Swan Racing finished the session in the Pro-Am class on seventh. A total of 221 drivers and 63 vehicles tackle this year’s 24 Hours of Spa. Thirteen manufacturers are represented at the 70th edition of the Ardennes marathon, which is regarded as the largest and most important GT3 event in the world.
Friday, 27 July
17:45–18:15 hrs: Warm-up Super Pole
18:30–19:00 hrs: Super Pole
Saturday, 28 July
16:30 hrs: Race start
Sunday, 29 July
16:30 hrs: Finish
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager 911 GT3 R): “Here at Spa, the vehicles are very close in terms of performance. That’s why with more than 60 cars on this track it’s important to get a clean lap during qualifying. We were hampered several times, but so were our competitors. All in all the result was good. Two pro-cars have qualified for the Super Pole. We’re now focussing on that and our aim is to achieve good grid positions for the race.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “I had a lot of grip in the first lap and was really fast, but I got held up by several slower drivers. That was annoying, but we qualified for the Super Pole and that’s what counts.”
Romain Dumas (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “There was a lot of traffic on the track and it wasn’t easy to get a clean run. But our competitors experienced the same conditions. We’re in the top 20 and that’s important.”
Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “It was a difficult qualifying session. My first two laps weren’t so good, but ultimately it was enough to get into the Super Pole, albeit at the last minute. The car feels good, now we have to drive a flawless race, then everything’s possible.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 GT3 R #117): “The car’s balance was great, but I was blocked by some cars. That won’t be the case in tomorrow’s Super Pole – we’ll get a free run.”
Timo Bernhard (Porsche 911 GT3 R #117): “I turned a really good lap and set the sixth quickest time in my session. The main goal was to get into the top 20 with the team so that we can aim for the front grid spots tomorrow. I’m happy that we did so well with eighth place.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #117): “I’m satisfied with the qualifying. With so many cars out on the track, the main thing is to get a clear lap. That didn’t quite work for me, but our team has clearly qualified for the Super Pole.”
Marc Lieb (Porsche 911 GT3 R #540): “It didn’t go so well for me, I simply didn’t get a free lap. We have to drive a steady race and work our way up the field. That’ll be our game plan.”
Alfred Renauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R #991): “It could hardly have gone better for us. All the drivers in the team gave their best and the car was fantastic, too. We can tackle the race feeling confident and see what comes out at the end.”