24 Hours of Spa: Ferraris in fight for pole

Two Ferraris in fight for Superpole at 24 Hours of Spa

The four qualifying sessions for the 24 Hours of Spa, saw the 488 GT3s of HubAuto Corsa and SMP Racing win a place in the Superpole, the session that on Friday will decide the definitive starting grid for the demanding Belgian race. With 72 cars on the track, it was hard to avoid traffic, and this was one of the factors affecting the performance of the Prancing Horse crews.

Qualifying format. There were four sessions against the clock, with the crewmembers taking one each. The final qualifying time was then calculated on the average of the fastest laps set by the individual drivers. The top 20 take part in the Superpole, which decides the first ten rows of the starting grid. In this session, the driver picked by the team can only do two laps against the clock.

Towards Superpole. The Ferrari of HubAuto Corsa steadily improved its times over the four sessions to finish fourth overall, 318 thousandths off the Black Falcon Mercedes driven by Engel, Buurman, and Stolz. After skipping the first session as the team has three drivers, Nick Cassidy entered the fray, stopping the clock at 2:20.374. Then came Nick Foster with the faster time of 2:19.721, further improved on by Daniel Serra with 2:19.570. The three-time average of 2:19.888 placed the 488 GT3 of HubAuto Corsa in fourth. The Ferrari of SMP Racing finished a little further back in twelfth. Miguel Molina tackled the second session for the championship leaders. Running into traffic, he stopped the clock at 2:20.503. He was then followed by Mikhail Aleshin in 2:20.228 and Davide Rigon in 2:19.753.

Class by class. In the Pro category, Pier Guidi-Bird-Calado clocked the 25th fastest time of 2:20.573. The car of Rinaldi Racing with Salikhov, Bulatov, Perel, and Dontjie was sixth fastest (2:21.198) in the Silver Cup and 40th overall. In the Pro-Am, the 488 GT3 of Tempesta Racing was third fastest (2:21.781), while the cars of AF Corse (2:22.092) and Scuderia Praha (2:22.120) finished respectively sixth and seventh. In the Am Cup, car no. 33 of Rinaldi Racing came second (2:22.170) followed by the 444 of HB Racing (2:22.448), while Rinaldi Racing’s second car, a 488, closed in sixth with a time of 2:23.306.

Programme. At the end of the four qualifying sessions, there was a 90-minute nighttime free practice. In this session, where each crewmember had to complete at least two timed laps, the best of the Ferraris was once again HubAuto Corsa’s car crewed by Foster, Cassidy and Serra. It secured the second-fastest time (2:20.567) just 277 thousandths behind the Porsche of GPX Racing with Lietz-Christensen-Estre at the wheel. On Friday the action on the track will be concentrated in the afternoon with the warm-up at 6:15 pm followed by Superpole at 7:05 pm.

24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – The 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps goes live

One of the great endurance classics, the 24 Hours of Spa, officially kicked off with the first free practice sessions. Expectations are running very high for this event, partly because there are so many participants, with 72 crews set to compete on the 7004-metre track through the Ardennes forest.

Ferrari is taking part in all classes and with cars that compete in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, whose seventh round is held here, and the third round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the SRO-organised championship based on long-established endurance races.

Pro. Fans are eager to see championship leaders Davide Rigon, Miguel Molina and Mikhail Aleshin in the 488 GT3 of SMP Racing. The three drivers secured a commanding victory at Silverstone and completed the Paul Ricard 1000km in second place, thus gaining a four-point lead in the standings heading into the 24 Hours of Spa. Eyes are also on the Ferrari 488 GT3 of AF Corse crewed by the trio of official Competizioni GT drivers, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Sam Bird. The 24 Hours of Spa will be a first for this crew and Sam Bird’s third race behind the wheel of the 488 GT3 after the 24 Hours of Daytona of 2017 and 2018, both in the colours of Scuderia Corsa. The attention of the media and fans is also focussed on the Ferrari of HubAuto Corsa with Nick Cassidy, Nick Foster and Daniel Serra who triumphed in the California 8 Hours. The Brazilian returns to the wheel of a Prancing Horse car after accompanying Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado to victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Silver Cup. Winner in the Pro-Am class in the last edition of the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the 488 GT3 of Rinaldi Racing is looking for an encore in the Silver Cup. The German team will also have David Perel, who won the AM class of the Belgian marathon in 2017 and the Pro-Am in 2018 and who, if successful, would be the first driver to achieve such a result. Together with the South African, Rinat Salikhov, Denis Bulatov and Indy Dontje will drive the only Ferrari in the Silver Cup.

Pro-Am. Several Ferraris could play a leading role in a class that looks set to be very hard-fought. These include the 488 GT3 of Scuderia Praha, crewed by Jiří Písařík, Josef Král and Matteo Malucelli, newly crowned champions in the A6 Pro class of the 24H Series. The experienced Italian driver Gabriele Lancieri who has raced in both GT and single-seaters will join the trio that triumphed at the Belgian event.

Niek Hommerson, Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini will be able to count on the performance of Finnish driver Toni Vilander in the no. 52 of AF Corse – the only car in the Pro-Am class that also races in the Intercontinental GT Challenge – to mount an attack on the class leadership, courtesy also of the extra points offered by this race. The Tempesta Racing quartet with Jonathan Hui, Chris Froggatt, Eddie Cheever III and the super-fast Giancarlo Fisichella, have the same goal just eight points off the head.

Am. Rinaldi Racing will have two entries among the 11 crews taking part in the class, with Alexander Mattschull, Manuel Lauck, Hendrik Still and Christian Hook in car no. 33, after a one-two in the Misano round of the Blancpain GT Sports Club. Pierre Ehret, Martin Berry, Jose Manuel Balbiani and Rory Penttinen, will drive the no. 488. The third 488 GT3 to start, for the Austrian team HB Racing, will be crewed by Florian Scholze, Philipp Wlazik, Jens Liebhauser and Thomas Neubauer, who drives in the Ferrari Challenge Europe.

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