Late lap snags Mercedes pole for Spa 24
Maro Engel has confirmed Black Falcon on pole position for this weekend’s 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps after setting the fastest time in Superpole.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver was the last on track in the session after he and co-drivers Luca Stolz and Yelmer Buurman combined to record the provisional fastest time on Thursday.
“As soon as I did three corners on my first flying lap I knew the car was great,” said Engel.
“When I heard from my engineer that I was half a second down after my first lap, I tried to squeeze everything out of the car on my second attempt.
“The team gave me a great car to drive and I have to thank my team-mates as well, because they set some great lap times in qualifying yesterday.
“Being on pole for this legendary race is fantastic, but once the flag drops it does not count for much anymore. The big aim is to be first on Sunday afternoon.”
Engel’s lap, a 2:18.588, edged out Laurens Vanthoor by less than two hundredths of a second to relegate the KUS Team75 Bernhard Porsche to second place.
The Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Davide Rigon was third fastest, two tenths adrift of Engel’s effort, while the Nick Tandy piloted Rowe Racing Porsche rounds out the second row.
Nick Foster is the highest placed of the Australians with his HubAuto Corsa Ferrari set to line up fifth courtesy of Daniel Serra.
Matt Campbell’s entry will line up 12th on the grid after a 2:19.259s lap from Dennis Olsen.
The leading Audi belongs to Dries Vanthoor in sixth place, while Jake Dennis set the fastest Aston Martin time in 13th spot.
As the session got going the early pace was set by the second Rowe Racing Porsche driven by Mathieu Jaminet, the Frenchman posting a 2:19.027s.
That lasted at the top of the timing screens until Rigon took to the circuit before Lauren Vanthoor nosed his way onto provisional pole.
It was then only Engel, the last runner in the session, who was able to surpass the Porsche driver to claim pole position for the fabled 24 hour encounter.
A delay in taking to the circuit at the prescribed time saw Bathurst 12 Hour winner Katsumasa Chiyo penalised 7.396 seconds on his fastest lap, leaving the KCMG Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 driver in 20th, 8.333 seconds off the pace.
Without the penalty the Japanese driver, who is partnered by Australian Josh Burdon, would have lined up 15th.
There was a similar penalty for the Dennis Lind Lamborghini Huracan which will line up 19th after its 2.302s penalty dropped it from 12th.
The order outside of the Top 20 was determined by qualifying.
Cars will next be on track for the race itself, which is scheduled to begin at 1630 local time on Saturday in Belgium (Sunday 0030 AEST).