The SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#16, Valentin Pierburg / Tim Müller / Lance-David Arnold) has taken pole position for the 2018 Hankook 12H SPA by the narrowest of margins. Lance-David Arnold lapped the 7.004km Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in 2m 19.574s, just 0.013s faster than the PROsport Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster / Adam Christodoulou). Incredibly, this is the second time in two races that Christodoulou has lost a 24H SERIES pole position in the closing moments and by less than two hundredths of a second.
“It’s hard to analyse this lap,” Lance-David Arnold explained to radiolemans.com’s Bruce Jones. “On the second set of tyres we had a slight vibration, and that took two or three laps to sort out, but then the tyre was perfect. We had one lap at the end, but that was the one!”
In an astonishingly close qualifying session, the Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 GT3 (#11, Jiří Písařík / Josef Kral / Matteo Malucelli) was only 0.025s adrift of pole position, and will thus start 3rd in tomorrow’s race. Just seven points separate PROsport Performance and the Czech-based Ferrari in the GT European Championship standings, while Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (#34, Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff / Max Edelhoff / Elmar Grimm / Ingo Vogler) is also in contention and will start 8th.
On its first race in the 24H SERIES since its class-winning run at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, Manthey Racing (#912, Edward Lewis Brauner / Jürgen Häring / Sven Müller) set the fastest lap in the SPX class, and will compete with the 2019-spec Porsche 911 GT3 R in tomorrow’s race. The MARC Cars Australia MARC II Mustang V8 (#51, Jake Camilleri / Hadrian Morrall / Keith Kassulke) and the VDS Racing Adventures MARC II Mustang V8 (#58, Raphaël van der Straten / José Close / Joel Vanloocke) complete the top three in-class.
The Van Berlo Racing Porsche 991-I Cup (#56, Marcel van Berlo / Kay van Berlo / Glenn van Berlo) will start from 991-class pole position, just ahead of the Porsche Lorient Racing 991-I Cup (#65, Jean-François Demorge / Alain Demorge / Gilles Blasco / Frédéric Ancel) and the sister #64 (Philippe Polette / Frederic Lelievre / Pascal Gibon / Lionel Amrouche), both of which are in contention for the 991-class championship.
Current GT4 standings leader QSR Racingschool (#254, Mario Timmers / Bert Redant / Michiel Verhaeren / Jimmy de Breucker) finished qualifying on-top in-class, and the Belgian Mercedes-AMG GT4 will thus start ahead of the returning Fox Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT4 (#47, Jamie Stanley / Ben Clucas / Andrew Perry) and the MARC Cars Australia BMW M4 GT4 (#250, Daren Jorgensen / Brett Strom / Jon Miller).
The European Championship season finale at Spa-Francorchamps welcomes one of the strongest 24H SERIES line-ups of the year, with 26 cars competing in the GT division and a further 33 cars starting in TCE.
Munckhof Racing BMW takes TCE pole position
The Munckhof Racing BMW M4 (#259, Eric van den Munckhof / Marco Poland / Simon Knap) has taken TCE pole position for the Hankook 12H SPA, despite the session being briefly red-flagged.
The session was brought to a temporary halt after 15 minutes when the WEC Motorsport BMW E46 M3 (#139, Dave Cox / Guy Povey / George Haynes) spun into the barriers at turn nine and had to be recovered. After the restart, Eric van den Munckhof lapped the 7.004km Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in 2m 32.122s, barely two-tenths quicker than the fastest TCR runner, the Red Camel-Jordans.nl SEAT LCR TCR V3 DSG (#303, Ivo Breukers / Rik Breukers). Fellow TCR runner AC Motorsport (#888, Stephane Perrin / Vincent Radermercker) completes the overall TCE top three.
The JR Motorsport BMW E46 Coupe (#118, Ward Sluys / Michael Verhagen / Ruud Olij) and the CWS Engineering Ginetta G55 (#178, Colin White / James May) were the second and third quickest runners in SP3, and will start 4th and 5th for tomorrow’s TCE race. The LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing CUPRA TCR DSG meanwhile (#129, Antti Buri / Olli Kangas / Kari-Pekka Laaksonen) completes the TCR top three at an event it won outright last year.
Another SP3 entry of note is the AMR Performance Centre Aston Martin Vantage GT8 (#226), an official Aston Martin entry that features experienced endurance racer Peter Cate, Aston CEO Andy Palmer, and six-time Olympic gold-medal winner, Sir Chris Hoy. Sir Chris Hoy on driver detail.
The Dan Agro Racing Peugeot RCZ (#185, Anders Rasmussen / Sune Marcussen / Henrik Thomsen / Nicolaj Kandborg) set the pace in A3, just ahead of the TICTAP TOTCAR SPORT SEAT Leon Supercopa MK2 (#141, Jorge Belloc Diaz / Jorge Belloc Ruiz / Isidoro Diaz-Guerra Gonzalez) and the returning Synchro Motorsport Honda FK2-Civic Type-R (#76, Alyn James / Daniel Wheeler / Matt Neal). Last year’s 24H TCE SERIES champions adds former British Touring Car Champion Matt Neal to its driver line-up this weekend.
Newly crowned 24H TCE SERIES champions Hofor Racing powered by Bonk Motorsport (#131, Martin Kroll / Michael Schrey / Michael Fischer / Bernd Küpper / Gustav Engljaehringer) takes pole position in the all-BMW CUP1 class ahead of Sorg Rennsport (#151, Dan Rogers / Chris Wadle / Seth Thomas) and JJ Motorsport (#156, John Landrum / Paul Dubinsky / Alastair McEwan / Rob Gill). The Swiss team is gunning for its sixth consecutive class win of the year at Spa.
Today’s programme continues with night practice at 19.30 hrs local time before the green flag flies for only the second-ever Hankook 12H SPA itself at 09.50 hrs local time on Saturday. The race will see two separate rolling starts for the GT and TCE divisions, and will continue throughout the night until the chequered flag is flown at 21.50 hrs local time on Saturday. Live timing and live streaming of the race in HD quality with commentary by Radiolemans.com will be available on the series’ website. The streaming will also be uploaded on the series’ Youtube channel. Regular updates will be published on Twitter (@24HSeries), Facebook (24H Series) and Instagram (24H Series). Further information can be found at www.24hseries.com.
Photo credit: Petr Frýba