The NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing CUPRA TCR (#175, Gijs Bessem / Harry Hilders / Jaap van Lagen / Christiaan Frankenhout) has set pole position for the first-ever TCR SPA 500 at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup star Jaap van Lagen lapped the 7.004km Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in 2m 37.916s in the closing moments of a wet-dry qualifying session to secure the hallowed top spot. Changeable conditions at the home of the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix led to a flurry of fast lap times as the chequered flag fell, though none could overhaul the Dutch entry.
“We made some changes on the car [after night practice] and it was absolutely the right direction, so big compliments to the team for that!” Jaap van Lagen explained. “We had very difficult conditions today. We started in the wet and it was drying up to the end, but we improved every lap and I was confident we would end up on pole.”
One final ‘do or die’ lap from Rik Breukers meant the Red Camel-Jordans.nl CUPRA TCR (#101, Tom Coronel / Pepe Oriola / Ivo Breukers / Rik Breukers) posted the second fastest lap of the session to set the fastest PRO lap and secure a front row lockout of the CUPRA TCR.
The GDL team Australia Audi RS3 LMS (#9, Malcolm Niall / Brett Niall / Clint Harvey / Rory Penttinen / Darryl Clarke) will start the inaugural TCR SPA 500 from 3rd place on the grid, meaning the PRO/AM, PRO and AM-class polesitter will start 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The 4th fastest time of the session for the Vmax-Engineering Opel Astra TCR (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Steven Cho / Ward Sluys) means that three different manufacturers will start the 500-lap / 23-hour touring car endurance event from the top four grid spots.
The AC Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS (#8, Stephane Perrin / Vincent Radermecker / Stewart Lines / Mathieu Detry) rounds out the top three PRO/AM class runners in 5th place overall, just ahead of the Wimmer Werk Motorsport CUPRA TCR (#33, Günter Benninger / Christian Voithofer / Peter Gross / Hans Peter Eder / Constantin Schöll).
The overall TCE winner of the recent Hankook 24H BARCELONA – the TOPCAR sport by Bas Koeten Racing CUPRA TCR DSG (#131, Fabian Danz / Julien Apotheloz / Kari-Pekka Laaksonen / Antti Buri / Mikel Azcona) – starts 7th, having been shuffled back from a front row starting grid in the dying moments of the session. Another early contender for pole position, the DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR (#308, Aurélien Comte / Teddy Clairet / Julien Briché) will start just one spot further back in 8th overall and from 3rd place in the PRO class.
The Lestrup Racing Team Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR (#110, Peter Fahlström / Stefan Nilsson / Mats Olsson / Marcus Fluch) and the Burton Racing Peugeot 308 TCR (#46, Pierre-Yves Corthals / Caren Burton / Armand Fumal / Olivier Meurens / Philippe Steveny) meanwhile round out both the AM class top three and the overall top 10 on the grid with the 9th and 10th fastest laps respectively.
The Teamwork Huff Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS (#852, Alex Hui Ka Tai / Sunny Wong Yat Shing / Paul Poon Tak Chun / Samuel Hsieh) suffered a difficult qualifying session after leaving the track at high speed at the end of the Kemmel Straight and hitting the barriers, though thankfully driver Sunny Wong Yat Shing emerged from the TCR machine unscathed.
Racing at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps continues this afternoon with the green flag for the first-ever TCR SPA 500 being flown at 16.00 hrs local time. The race will run uninterrupted throughout the night until either 500 laps or 23 hours of running has been completed. 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 and www.tcrspa500.com.