Antigua’s Haas RT has taken pole position for the 2023 Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS ahead of the Saintéloc Junior Team in a very changeable wet-dry qualifying session in Belgium.
The first 15-minute Qualifying session for the second European round of this year’s 24H SERIES powered by Hankook started with confusion as most of the GT and TCE field ventured onto the 7.004km Belgian circuit with wet tyres fitted, with most pitting shortly thereafter to change back to slicks as the track quickly began to dry. Ironically, a short shower as the first session drew to a close meant many teams reverted back to wet Hankook rubber as the dry line on the highest parts of the circuit started to disappear.
Impressively, despite the conditions, qualifying was not interrupted by a single red flag or Code 60 caution period
The HAAS RT Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#21, Mathieu Detry / Stéphane Perrin / Frédéric Vervisch / Olivier Bertels), which took its first-ever race win last time out at the Hankook 12H MUGELLO, follows that accomplishment up with an impressive run to its first-ever pole position at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Frédéric Vervisch setting the car’s fastest lap during the final 15 minutes to bank a 2m 29.351s average time across all three sessions. In doing so, the 2019 Hankook 24H DUBAI winner vaulted the #21 Audi R8 ahead of both the Saintéloc Junior Team Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#26, Erwan Bastard / Paul Evrard / Antoine Doquin) and the Scherer Sport PHX Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II (#1, Michael Doppelmayr / Pierre Kaffer / Elia Erhart / Swen Herberger) – the Q1 and Q2 session leaders, respectively – for pole position by just over seven-tenths of a second.
“It’s crazy how quickly the track dries, so we were doubting whether we should put [wet tyres] back on,” Vervisch explained to radiolemans.com’s Nick Daman. “But my teammates did a great, great job in the beginning and I think, more or less, everyone was in the same boat. I’m very happy for the team after all their hard work.”
Reigning GT European Trophy winner Phoenix Racing, entered this weekend under the ‘Scherer Sport PHX’ banner, makes its first European start of CREVENTIC’s 2023 season, and could become only the second GT team, after Bohemia Energy by Scuderia Praha, to take more than one overall win at the Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS.
The Heart of Racing by SPS Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#27, Ian James / Gray Newell / Roman De Angelis), the fastest GT3-AM runner, is set to shadow fellow Hankook 12H MUGELLO podium finishers Haas RT and Saintéloc from 4th on the grid, and lines up just ahead of the first of two Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO IIs (#55, Stefan Wieninger / Tim Müller / Christopher Mies). The second (#34, Dr. Johannes Kirchhoff / Tim Vogler / Max Edelhoff) will start 8th.
2017 Overall GT Teams’ ‘Continents’ champion Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Alfred Renauer / Robert Renauer / Laurin Heinrich) will start 6th on its first official race with the new, 992-generation Porsche 911 GT3 R, Laurin Heinrich proving the new car’s capabilities by setting the fastest lap of any GT runner – a 2m 34.310s – during the final 15-minute session. The returning Modena Motorsports (#16, Francis Tjian / John Shen / Benny Simonsen / Mathias Beche), which makes its first 24H SERIES start since taking class victory at the Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS in 2019, also makes its first start with a new Porsche 992 GT3 R. The Hong Kong team ended an encouraging session with the 9th fastest average time.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3s of 2017 Overall GT Teams’ ‘European’ champion Hofor-Racing (#11, Michael Kroll / Chantal Prinz / Alexander Prinz / Maximilian Partl) and reigning GT Continents Trophy winner CP Racing (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Shane Lewis) round out the GT3 top 10 in qualifying, and will start 11th and 12th on the overall grid.
The Red Camel-Jordans.nl Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#909, Ivo Breukers / Rik Breukers / Luc Breukers) was the fastest of the 992 runners, the Dutch team’s average time – a 2m 33.038s – proving fast enough for 7th overall on the grid as well as class pole position. Such was the pace of the 992-gen Porsche Cup car around Spa-Francorchamps, the second fastest 992 runner – reigning 992 Teams’ European’ champion Red Ant Racing (#903, Ayrton Redant / Yannick Redant / Kobe de Breucker) – will line up 10th overall on tomorrow’s grid.
The PK Carsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#924, Bert Longin / Stienes Longin / Peter Guelinckx) was the fastest of the 992-AM runners, and the third fastest overall in the conjoined 992 class. Five-time Hankook 24H DUBAI winner Black Falcon makes its return to the 24H SERIES after a three-year absence, with the first of its two ‘BLACK FALCON Team TEXTAR’ entries (#919, Matt Kehoe / Bradley Kellett / Thomas Roberts / Carlos Rivas) setting the third fastest ‘992-AM’ average time in qualifying behind 2nd-placed
HRT Performance (#967, Roberto Pampanini / Amedeo Pampanini / Stefano Monaco / Nicolas Stürzinger)
Former SP2 Teams’ champion – and Belgian fan favourite – VDS Racing Adventures (#758, Raphaël van der Straten / Nathan Vanspringel / Nick Geelen) made an impressive start to its 24H SERIES return by securing GTX class pole position and 15th on the overall grid with its bespoke, MARC II V8. VDS’ qualifying average was just over 1.5 seconds faster than that of Vortex V8 (#701, Lionel Amrouche / Olivier Gomez), the latter of which currently leads the GTX Teams’ standings following its class win in Mugello. Last year’s GTX Teams’ runner-up – RD Signs – Siauliai racing team (#720, Audrius Butkevicius / Nicola Michelon / Paulius Paskevicius) – lines up 3rd in-class with its Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo.
A close-fought fight for GT4 class pole position ultimately went to the BMW M4 GT4 of series returnee, Senkyr Motorsport (#444, Tomas Erdelyi / Richard Gonda / Robert Šenkýř / Petr Svantner). GT4 standings leader Atlas BX Motorsport meanwhile (#403, Steven Cho / Roelof Bruins / Jongkyum Kim / Taekeun Yang) took an understandably cautious approach to the changeable conditions, meaning the South Korean team’s Mercedes-AMG GT4 will start tomorrow’s race behind the Lionspeed GP powered by SRS Team Sorg Rennsport Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport (#427, Daniel Miller / Patrick Kolb / José Garcia).
Belgium’s Xwift Racing Events (#408, Pieter Denys / Steven Dewulf / Tim de Borle / Gavin Pickering) will start 4th in GT4, a solid start for the Toyota Supra GT4 on the car’s 24H SERIES debut, and the first CREVENTIC start for a Toyota since 2017.
2020 Overall GT Teams’ ‘Continents’ champion Sorg Rennsport, racing this weekend as ‘SRS Team Sorg Rennsport’ (#227, Seppi Stigler / Bernhard Wagner / Heiko Eichenberg / Patrik Grütter), took a comfortable pole position in TCE, the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS having led all three qualifying sessions and securing an average best – a 2m 44.772s – just over nine-tenths faster than the first of two Audi RS 3 LMS’ entered by three-time Overall TCE Teams’ champion, Wolf-Power Racing (#117, Marcus Menden / Rob Huff). The latter’s sister entry (#121, Jasmin Preisig / Ivars Vallers) will line-up 5th on the TCE division grid.
Last year’s Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS TCE winner Holmgaard Motorsport meanwhile (#102, Jonas Holmgaard / Magnus Holmgaard / Roy Edland / Martin Vedel Mortensen) will start 3rd in TCE with its CUPRA Leon Competición TCR, and shares the second row of the TCE grid with the CUPRA TCR of last year’s TCR podium finisher, RAIL EQUIP BY TOTCAR SPORT (#123, Jorge Belloc Diaz / Jorge Belloc Ruiz / Álvaro Rodríguez Sastre). TC polesitter, and 2018 Overall TCE Teams’ champion, Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#331, Martin Kroll / Michael Bonk / Alexander Schmidt), rounds out the TCE field with its BMW M2 CS Racing. The Swiss team will be looking to replicate its overall podium last time out in Mugello.
‘Part one’ of the fifth Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS will start tomorrow – Saturday 6 May – at 11.50 hrs local time, with the first six hours set to conclude at 17.50 hrs. After CREVENTIC’s traditional overnight intervention, the final six hours of the event will run from 10.30 hrs on the morning of Sunday 7 May until the chequered flag is unfurled at 16.30 hrs. The action will be live with commentary from radiolemans.com on the official 24H SERIES YouTube channel. Regular updates will also be published on Twitter (@24HSeries), Facebook (24H Series) and Instagram (24H Series). Further information can be found at www.24hseries.com.