Porsche’s customer teams have delivered a strong performance at the first qualifying session of the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps: All six vehicles in the pro-category have qualified for Friday’s Super Pole, in which the fastest 20 cars fight for the top grid spots for the 24-hour marathon in the Ardennes.
Per vehicle, each driver had 15 minutes in the qualifying to attempt a flying lap. At the end of the session, the average was calculated from the best time of each driver in a team. The best Porsche 911 GT3 R was the No. 998 vehicle fielded by Rowe Racing, with Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and his works driver teammates Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) posting fifth. Driving for KÜS Team75 Bernhard, Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) planted the identical No. 117 racing car on ninth.
Klaus Bachler (Austria), Andrea Rizzoli (Italy) and Zaid Ashkanani (Kuwait) qualified their No. 54 nine-eleven on eleventh for Dinamic Motorsport. Rowe Racing’s two other Porsche 911 GT3 R with the starting numbers 99 and 98 also qualified for the Super Pole on Friday with positions 16 and 18. Achieving 20th, the 550+hp GT3 R vehicle campaigned by GPX Racing made the solid team performance perfect for Porsche.
A total of 248 drivers tackle the 24 Hours of Spa in 72 vehicles. Eleven manufacturers are represented at the Ardennes marathon, which is considered the largest and most important GT3 event in the world.
Friday, 26 July
18:15 – 18:45 hrs: Warm-up
19:05 – 19:35 hrs: Super Pole
Saturday, 27 July
15:35 – 16:15 hrs: Start ceremony
16:30 hrs: Start Total 24 Hours of Spa
The 24-hour race can be viewed via live stream on the internet website of the Blancpain GT Series (www.blancpain-gt-series.com) as well as on the homepage of the Intercontinental GT Challenge (www.intercontinentalgtchallenge.com).
Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R: “We’ve achieved a very good result with six cars in the top 20 in a very strong field. This means our vehicles make up almost 30 percent of the Super Pole grid. If we want to succeed in this session, everything has to come together perfectly. You have just one lap where the tyres have to work at their peak.”
Klaus Bachler (Porsche 911 GT3 R #54): “We encountered a lot of traffic out there, but the car ran really well and the balance is great. Qualifying on eleventh for the Super Pole is a good result. Anything is possible now and I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #20): “It was tricky to turn a decent lap with so many cars on the track. But we’re all in the same boat. You also need a bit of luck and we had that today as the 20th.”
Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #99): “All of the pro-class Porsches including the three Rowe Racing cars are in the Super Pole, and that’s an outstanding result. In this qualifying, where the best lap of each driver counts, teamwork is the key factor. And that worked perfectly with all Porsche squads.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 GT3 R #998): “We all found it great to work with the new team. The fact that we’ve made it into the top 20 with all three Rowe Racing vehicles shows that the chemistry is right. Not everything ran perfectly, but it was a good start to the race weekend.”
Sven Müller (Porsche 911 GT3 R #98): “The qualifying wasn’t easy. With 72 cars, it’s difficult to get a free run. Mathieu finally managed it and his hot lap put us in the top 20. We now want to optimise our car during the night practice so that we have a consistently fast car for the Super Pole and, above all, for the race.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #117): “We were determined to reach the Super Pole but it was tough. I didn’t manage to turn a perfect lap because of all the traffic. Timo, however, did a great job and we’ll be back to attack tomorrow.”