Porsche take Spa pole, Ferrari head up GTE Pro

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The #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of André Lotterer, Neel Jani and Nick Tandy will start tomorrow’s Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps from pole position after an incident-filled qualifying session at the Belgian track. LMP2 pole went to the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca, with Ferrari and Porsche fastest in GTE Pro and GTE Am respectively.

The session began in cool but dry conditions at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, with Porsche and Toyota going head to head straight off the bat in the fight for pole. The #9 machine driven by Stéphane Sarrazin and Nicolas Lapierre made the early running in LMP1, with Sarrazin setting what would prove to be the fastest lap of the sessions – a 1:53.658 – in his six-lap run. However, Porsche drivers André Lotterer and Neel Jani also showed impressive pace and ended up snatching the pole position from Toyota, with the #7 car of Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi slotting into second place roughly half a second further back on average lap time.

The LMP qualifying session was interrupted after just a couple of minutes after the #25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing car overcooked it at Pouhon and collided with the barriers, ending its qualifying effort in the process. Once released, it was the G-Drive Racing car of Roman Rusinov, Pierre Thiriet and Alex Lynn who took the pole with a fastest average lap time just 0.023 seconds quicker than the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut car of Gustavo Menezes, Matt Rao and, standing in for Nicolas Lapierre, former works Porsche driver Romain Dumas.

In GTE Pro, pole position went to Davide Rigon and Sam Bird in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488, whose fastest average lap time was just under half a second quicker than Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla in the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK machine. The #67 Ford GT rounded out the top three in the twenty-minute qualifying session, with the Aston Martins showing a distinct lack of speed compared to their GTE Pro challengers, trailing the leading Ferrari by over two seconds on average lap time.

The #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR of Matteo Cairoli and Christian Ried secured GTE Am pole ahead of the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 of Thomas Floh, Miguel Molina and Francesco Castellaci, The #98 Aston Martin Racing team fared somewhat better than the team’s GTE Pro entries, qualifying in third position in class.