Earl Bamber was the best of the Kiwis in qualifying for the 6 Hours of Spa and will start tonight’s race from fourth on the grid. It was a contrast of fortunes for championship leader Brendon Hartley who crashed at Raidillon on a preparation lap.
Both Kiwis had been given the wheel for qualifying their respective teams, with a bumper field of 13 Hypercars making for plenty of action.
Hartley’s day in the #8 Toyota was over before it truly began, the defending champion losing the rear of his car at the famous Raidillon corner and spinning into the wall. Thankfully contact was relatively light. However, the team will remain busy in the lane, with Hartley and driving partners Ryo Hirakawa and Sebastien Buemi also set for an active race tonight from the back of the grid.
“It is really disappointing,” said Hartley. “Leaving the pits on cold tyres, I hit the wall at turn three, at the top of Eau Rouge. It was a light impact, but it took us out of qualifying before we set a time and means we will start the race from the back, which will heavily compromise our chances. We will do our best to fight back, but it will be very challenging.”
It appeared former Formula 1 driver Antonio Giovanazzi had put the No.51 Ferrari AF Corse 499P on pole will a blistering 2m00.77s; however, his time was deleted for a track limits violation, relegating them to third.
Instead, it was the second of the Toyotas taking the top spot, with Kamui Kobayashi’s 2m00.812s enough for the honours.
The number 50 Ferrari, which Miguel Molina qualified, will also start on the front row, with Bamber and driving partners Richard Westbrook and Alex Lynn set to begin next to the relegated #51 Ferrari.
Team Cadillac’s second entry, over from IMSA for the event in the buildup to Le Mans, starts fifth, with Sebastien Bourdais the man responsible for qualifying.
The first of the Porshe Penske Motorsport 963s will start sixth on the grid, one spot to the good of Hertz Team Jota. For the latter, it’s a welcome introduction to the top class, having received one of the first customer-delivered Porsche 963s just recently to enable them to compete at Spa in the buildup to Le Mans.
Glickenhaus Racing is the best non-Hybrid Hypercars in eighth, with the first Peugeot pipping the second Penske Porsche for ninth.
The second Peugeot will begin the race 11th, next to Floyd Vanwall Racing Team, with Hartley and co starting from the back of the grid.
The 6 Hours of Spa begins at 10.15 pm tonight and will be shown live on Sky Sport PopUp 2 (601).