After rain showers in the morning, the asphalt was almost dry again at the start of the European Le Mans Series qualifying at Spa Francorchamps, and it gave us a few surprises, but also domination by others.
The Ferrari teams JMW Motorsport #66, Spirit of Race #55 and Krohn Racing #83 were swift to get on the track and start their flying laps, while the Porsche teams Proton Competition #77 and #88 plus Ebimotors #80 were a bit more relaxed.
And absolutely nobody could match Proton Competition. They smacked up everybody by one and a half second! Especially Matteo Cairoli was flying in the #88, and grabbed Pole Position by 0,700 to Dennis Olsen in #77. Ebimotors #80 were the third fastest with Riccardo Pera.
Spirit of Race Ferrari #55 pitted for new tires, in a desperate try to cut the deficit. But JMW Motorsport #66 kept their 4th position as the best non-Porsche, but that was still 2,156 seconds from Pole Position, while Krohn Racing #83 were the slowest. They didn’t even bother much about the qualifying, and instead opted to give Tracy Krohn a few extra laps in the car.
No doubt that Ferrari will have to hope for something extraordinary in the race tomorrow, that can turn the race upside down – because Porsche are totally dominant on both dry and wet tarmac. But maybe if we add in a few off-track moments, Safety Car periods, wrong tire choices etc..
On to the LMP3 cars, getting their 12 minutes on the track.
Ultimate #17 with Matthieu Lahaye was the first to post a time, but was quickly challenged by Cool Racing #4, and then EuroInternational #11.
While Ultimate #17 improved their time over and over, EuroInternational #11 with Mattia Drudi really wanted Pole Position, but ended up just 0,065 of a second from Pole.
Colin Noble got the job of qualifying the Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen #7, and did it so well, that he briefly were in second, but ended up fourth, when 360 Racing sneaked ahead on their very final flying lap. That resulted in #17 ahead of #11, #6 and #7.
Finally we had the 16 LMP2 cars to decide their positions.
Duqueine Engineering #29 with Nelson Panciatici was the first driver to post a fast lap, but was quickly beaten by Paul Loup Chatin in IDEC Sport #28. Norman Nato in Racing Engineering #24 also wanted to go for the top spots, and posted a time 0,002 slower than Chatin.
Jean-Eric Vergne in G-Drive Racing #26 leapt into first with a super time, that the others could start trying to chase. Gustavo Menezes in APR – Rebellion Racing #31 drove the car into third position, with the risk of being beaten in the remaining 7 minutes of qualifying.
Chatin pushed on rally hard, and it almost went badly wrong at the top of Raidillon, but thankfully he got the car under control again.
Graff #39 didn’t even make it on the track, since the damage that they suffered in FP2 was so heavy, that the car couldn’t be prepared in time. The mechanics are working hard to make it ready for tomorrow.
Filipe Albuerquerque had one final blistering lap, where he got the United Autosports #22 into second.
The qualifying ended without its ultimate climax, since Algarve Pro Racing #25 lost its engine cover at the top of Raidillon, so the whole first part of the lap was under yellow, resulting in most of the drivers not being able to improve their times.
The final starting grid is #26 ahead of #22, #29, and #28.
The weather forecast currently predicts a lot of rain towards the end of the race, promising a very exciting race where anything can happen.
You can stream the race live on www.Europeanlemansseries.com, starting at 10.45 CET tomorrow.