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WRT Audi / van der Linde / Vanthoor / Mies On Provisional Pole At Spa. (22.10.20)

Kelvin van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Christophe Mies, sharing the driving duties in the #31 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 took provisional pole for the 2020 Total 24 Hours of Spa. The #31 Audi lapped in an average of 2:35.097, .185 seconds quicker than the #12 GPX Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R driven by Matt Campbell, Patrick Pilet and Mathieu Jaminet.

Third quickest across the four sessions was the #66 Audi Sport Attempto Racing Audi in which Frederic Vervisch, Mattia Drudi and Patrick Niederhauser lapped in an average time of 2:36.249.

Class pole position in the Silver Cup category went to the #89 AKKA ASP Mercedes driven by Alex Fontana, Lucas Legeret and Benjamin Hites. Starting alongside the #89 car on the Silver Cup grid will be the #84 HTP Motorsport Philip Ellis, Indy Dontje and Russell Ward.

Pole position in the Pro-Am Cup category went to the #991 Herberth Motorsport Porsche driven by Daniel Allemann, Ralf Bohn, Robert Renauer and Alfred Renauer while the #51 Raton Racing Lamborghini Huracan secured class pole position in the Am Cup category.

The first 15-minute qualifying session began in wet and dark conditions, in contrast to the almost perfect weather that greeted the 56-car grid for pre-qualifying earlier in the afternoon.

As the session got underway, news broke that Timo Bernhard, who was due to drive the #22 Frikadelli Racing Team Porsche 911 GT3-R alongside Frederic Makowiecki and Dennis Olsen, would not be taking part as he had not been able to get his COVID19 test results back in time. Jorg Bergmeister will take Bernhard’s seat.

Gabriele Piana in the Silver Cup class #5 HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 set the early pace with a 2:44.778 before Tom-Onslow Cole in the Pro-Am #74 RAM Racing Mercedes lapped in 2:43.976.

Onslow-Cole improved again with a 2:43.125 to lap over half a second quicker than Jonathan Hui in the #93 SKY – Tempesta Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 but, as the session entered its final three minutes, Piana found more grip to lap in 2:41.425, 1.70 seconds quicker than Onslow-Cole in the #74 Mercedes.

In the closing seconds, many in the field started to improve their times with Piana moving to a 2:39.300 and Sandy Mitchell in the #77 Pro-Am Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan improving to second with a 2:41.459.

As the session concluded Piana’s 2:39.300 stood at the top of the timing screens with Roman De Angelis in the #159 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage AMR in second with a 2:40.439 and Sandy Mitchell in the #77 Lamborghini in third.

The rain appeared to have moved over the circuit as frantic preparations began for the second session. There was some confusion as the session went underway as the lights went green but the cars were still being held at the pit exit.

News broke as the session got underway that the #9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental would not be taking part in qualifying due to a misfire.

Matt Campbell in the #12 GPX Racing Porsche went quickest with a 2:39.553 before Raffaele Marciello in the #88 Mercedes-ASMG Team AKKA ASP Mercedes topped the timing screens with a 2:38.666.

Marciello improved again to a 2:36.707 prior to Dries Vanthoor in the #31 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS putting in the quickest lap of the session to that point with a 2:36.468 which he quickly improved again to a 2:35.013.

On his final lap, however, Matt Campbell in the #13 GPX Racing Porsche took provisional pole with a 2:35.013, nearly three-quarters of a second quicker than Vanthoor in the #31 Audi.

The track seemed to be improving as the third session approached. Halfway through the 15-minute session, Patrick Pilet in the #12 Porsche was quickest with a 2:37.010, nearly a third of a second quicker than Luca Stolz in the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes.

Word was spreading that further rain was due in Q4 as Jim Pla in the #87 Pro-Am AKKA ASP Mercedes went to the top of the timing screens with a 2:36.807.

At the chequered flag went out for the end of the session, Christopher Mies in the #31 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi had gone quickest with a 2:35.298 to put the #31 Audi on provisional pole, followed by Luca Stolz in the #4 Mercedes with 236.159.

The fourth session got underway with a Ferrari 1 -2 at the top of the timing screens before Kelvin van der Linde lapped the #31 Audi in 2:35.112 to lead of combined qualifying averages with a 2:35.382.

Pier Alessandro Guidi in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari went quicker with a 3:35.108 before van der Linde improved to a 2:34.255 to secure provisional pole ahead of Friday’s Super Pole session at 16:30 local time.

“It’s really a credit to the team, the turn-around (after the pre-qualifying session),” said Kelvin van der Linde. “After Pre-Qualy, we were not so happy but obviously that was in the dry and this is the wet so that seems to suit our car and now we’re going to do the rain dance for Super Pole and have a think what we can do for the dry. It was a great job by the team to have all three drivers in all three sessions so competitive so I’m really excited for the rest of the weekend.”

Super Pole gets underway at 16:30 local time on Friday October 23 with the lights going out for the start of the 2020 Total 24 Hours of Spa at 14:30 on Saturday October 24.