With Alvaro Parente – three front rows in the three Blancpain Endurance Series races of 2014 – absent for the qualifying practices, due to the crash of the #98 ART Grand Prix McLaren in free practice, the battle for the top positions was wide open. The opening minutes of the first qualifying session saw some frantic action, with plenty of drivers going quicker than last year’s pole position of Aston Martin-driver Stefan Mücke. Eventually twelve cars went below the 2’20 barrier in the first qualifying session, with Dirk Werner in the #77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS BMW being the quickest overall in 2’19.089.
Behind the BMW factory driver, Christopher Mies in the #3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi was only 0.041 slower, with Kevin Estre in the #99 ART Grand Prix McLaren 0.159 behind the BMW. In fourth was the quickest of the Pro-Am cars, the #50 AF Corse Ferrari, with Alessandro Pier Guidi at the wheel.
With conditions in the night qualifying session slightly deteriorating, no one managed to improve and that meant the top-20 of the first qualifying session proved to be the final ranking as well. Four cars of the Pro Cup did not manage to get into Friday’s Superpole: the #63 Black Falcon Mercedes (21st and only 0.044 short to claim a Superpole spot), the #75 ISR Audi (29th), the #44 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin (37th) and the #8 M-Sport Bentley (39th).
Stephane Lemeret in the #228 Delahaye Racing Porsche set the quickest time in the Gentlemen Trophy, lapping the Ardennes circuit in 2’22.894 just before the chequered flag of the first session was waved. The Belgian will start from 49th on Saturday afternoon. The Superpole session, giving one driver of each car in the top-20 the opportunity to do two timed laps, will start on Friday at 18.50.
Dirk Werner (#77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS BMW): “I am happy for the team that I was able to set this provisional pole. We were able to determine a good set-up, at least over a single lap. Still, this is only provisional, there is still the Superpole left. Getting the pole will not change a lot for the race itself, but it is always a good thing if you can start from the front and avoid possible mayhem during the opening laps.”
Christopher Mies (#3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi): “My lap was quite good, but I caught some traffic at the end. I hope I can go a bit quicker during Superpole, even though I think it will be tough to get into the 2’18s, especially since we will have to cope with hotter conditions on Friday evening.”
Kevin Estre (#99 ART Grand Prix McLaren): “We certainly did not want to make any mistake, because the team’s mechanics already have their hands full in repairing the #98 car. We had to work hard to find a right set-up, but in the end all pieces came together. I hope this will give our mechanics some extra motivation, because I am certain they will have a long night ahead of them.”
Alessandro Pier Guidi (#50 AF Corse Ferrari, 1st Pro-Am): “It will be difficult to be on the front row like we did last year, but I will certainly have a go. We had our share of problems today, but the crew gave me a fantastic car for qualifying. Still, beating the BMW and Audi will be hard thing to do.”
Stéphane Lemeret (#228 Delahaye Racing Porsche, 1st Gentlemen Trophy): “I had to put quite some effort in taking the Gentlemen Trophy, because I had quite some difficulties in getting through the traffic. But I really wanted to get on pole, because that would allow me to get into the official press conference and get some attention from the journalists for our efforts.”
Practical information - Total 24 Hours of Spa
When: 23 - 27 July 2014
Tickets: from 15 euros, 4-days pass : 30 euro general entry, 60 euro paddock entry
Children of 12 years old or younger, accompanied by an adult, will have free entry to the track.
Friday 25 July : Super Pole, 18:45
Saturday 26 July : Start of the Total 24 hours of Spa,16:30
Information and reservation: www.total24hours.com / www.blancpain-gt-series.com
Facebook : Total 24 hours of Spa / Twitter : @24hoursofspa / @blancpaingt
Over 275 years of tradition in motion :
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit. From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past nine years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 32 new calibres.
Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the sportive L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.
Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier
Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.
With operations in more than 130 countries, Total is a top-tier international oil company and a world-class natural gas operator, refiner and petrochemical producer. Our 97,000 employees leverage their acknowledged expertise to discover, produce, refine and convert oil and gas to provide products and services for customers worldwide. We are also broadening our offer by developing energies that can partner oil and gas — today, solar energy and tomorrow, biomass.
In Belgium, our Group possesses a long history as an energy supplier and is mainly active in the chemical and refining sectors, together with marketing and service activities, employing some 4500 people. As the market leader, Total Belgium is known to respond to its clients’ needs, and brings innovative solutions through its products and services. Total helps its clients to reduce consumption in a better and more efficient way, through a varied range of products like the Excellium fuel, the Fuel Economy lubricants, fuel oil and wood pellets for heating, aviation fuel, super, diesel, LPG, asphalt, lubricants…
SRO Motorsports Group
SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.
In 2014, SRO promotes several championships and series, such as the Blancpain GT Series with the Blancpain Sprint Series and the Blancpain Endurance Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa, the Cooper Tires British F3 Championship, the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and has various franchise agreements including the GT4 European Series.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.