Spa 24h: The Qualifying Report

Carsport Holland have claimed pole for the Spa 24 Hours
Courtesy of the FIA GT/DPPI

This weekend is the longest race in the 2007 FIA GT Championship calendar : Mike Hezemans took his eleventh FIA GT Championship pole position at Spa-Francorchamps, placing the nr 5 Carsport Holland Corvette C6-R at the front for the start of tomorrow’s Total 24 Hours of Spa. Gianmaria Bruni set the GT2 pole, meaning that the nr 51 AF Corse Motorola Ferrari 430 GT2 will lead its class in tomorrow’s race, while the Gravity Racing International Mosler set the G2 pole, and the Sport Garage Ferrari 430 GT3 led G3. Qualifying proved to be extremely close, with eight cars within one second at the front of the grid, and four different makes in the top six. The Total 24 Hours of Spa will get underway on Saturday at 16:00, with 46 cars setting off towards the famous Eau Rouge.


With only five minutes remaining in the final qualifying session for this weekend's Total 24 Hours of Spa, Mike Hezemans finally found a clear track in front of him in the nr 5 Carsport Holland Corvette C6-R. Making the most of the opportunity, he lapped the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit in 2:14.554 - enough to improve his grid position by one place and snatch pole from the Nr 33 Jetalliance Aston Martin DBR9.

The team were the only one in the top ten to improve their time during final qualifying, most teams using the session to make final preparations for the race. In fact, three teams in the top ten did not turn a wheel during the 45-minute session, held on a dry track under partly cloudy skies.

“I did two laps yesterday on new tyres, and then I stopped because of the traffic," explained Hezemans. "This morning, the car was quite quick, and I was sure that we had the car to set the pole position, so I ask for new tyres. That was a good lap, and in fact my only clear lap in all the qualifying sessions! Fabrizio Gollin and Marcel Fässler are really quick, Jean-Denis Deletraz is always good here, so we have a strong package to get a good result.”

The Corvette will start alongside the nr 33 Jetalliance Aston Martin DBR9, which had been fastest in the first two qualifying sessions. The nr 3 Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette C6R was third, just ahead of the leading Maserati, the nr 11 Scuderia Playteam Sarafree Maserati MC 12. The nr 1 Vitaphone Maserati MC 12, victorious the last two years, was fifth, with the nr 28 Reiter Lamborghini Murciélago rounding off the top six.

The nr 23 Aston Martin Racing BMS DBR9 was out in final qualifying. The car has qualified in 14th position, and will be allowed to start the race, despite missing both night qualifying sessions after an accident.


Although this is his first 24-hour race, Gianmaria Bruni has plenty of experience at Spa-Francorchamps, where he set three pole positions in GP2 and had his best-ever Formula One qualifying with Minardi. He set the pole position in the GT2 category on Thursday night, with a lap of 2:21.929 in the nr 51 AF Corse Motorola Ferrari 430 GT2, ahead of the BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche 997 GT3, qualified by Emmanuel Collard. With no improvements in the leading GT2 cars on Friday, the time stood, giving Bruni his first FIA GT pole. “For the free practice I was just taking it easy and learning from the others,” he said. “I tried my best during the qualifying, I put everything together and I set the pole position. Driving at night is difficult, I need to get used to it a little bit more, but it is fine. We have lights, even if it is not enough, but we will see. If I’m not fast enough during the night, I’ll let the others do the job! Rui Aguas won last year, and Stéphane Ortelli has a lot of experience here. I’ve learnt a lot from him. It is good to be on the front, but nothing has been done yet, the race is really going to be something!”

With the leading Ferrari closely chased by the nr 97 Porsche, and the nr 52 Racing Team Edil Cris Ferrari 430 GT2 third, there looks

Ferrari are again the head of the GT2 field
Courtesy of the FIA GT/DPPI


The Gravity Racing International Mosler MT900 set pole position in the G2 category of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, with a lap of 2:25.366 from Vincent Raedermecker. “I know Spa very well, I have been doing the Belgian GT Championship for many years now, so I’m used to racing here,” he said. “It is a big advantage, we were even racing here a few weeks ago. We are using softer tyres than usual, and the car is more efficient than usual. We are on the front of the group, and right behind the GT2 cars, it is perfect.” Second in G2 was the nr 105 G&A Racing Mosler, with the updated nr 101 Gillet Vertigo in third position.


Gilles Vannelet is becoming a frequent visitor to press conferences this year, being the current leader of the FIA GT3 European Championship and having won a round of the Citation Cup. For the Total 24 Hours of Spa he is racing with French team Sport Garage, in a Ferrari 430 GT2, and claimed category pole with a lap of 2:29.704. “This is only my second 24 hour race, and my first in Europe, since my first 24-hour race was two weeks ago in Japan ,” the Frenchman explained. “It is nice to be here, it is one of my dreams. For the qualifying session, we did not really plan who will be in charge of qualifying the car. I had a clear lap, so I was lucky.”

Second-fastest in the G3 category was the nr 121 GS Motorsport Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, with the nr 116 Signa Motorsport Dodge Viper Competition Coupe – victorious in the category last year- in third.


The innovative format for the Coupe du Roi, where two teams of three GT3 cars will take part in a relay race within the Total 24 Hours of Spa, saw Austrian team S-Berg take the pole, with two of its Lamborghini Gallardo setting identical times of 2:29.377. The ‘A’ car of Charouz and Jirik will start ahead, having set the time before the ‘B’ car of Leclerc and Kuzminykh, who improved in the third and final qualifying session. “I’m pleased to participate in this race; it is fantastic to be here!” Leclerc said. “Getting the pole position was not our main goal; today we were using race conditions, and I’m pleased to set this time, it is good news for the race. The team is working hard for the race, we are confident and we want to go until the chequered flag.”


Austrian driver Karl Wendlinger claimed provisional pole position for the Total 24 Hours of Spa in his nr 33 Jetalliance Aston Martin DBR9 with a lap of 2:14.935 after the first two night qualifying sessions. He set the time 40 minutes into the first one-hour qualifying session, in cool and dry conditions. The session was incredibly close, with the first nine cars separated by just eight tenths of a second, including four Maserati MC 12, three Corvettes, a Lamborghini Murciélago and the Aston Martin DBR9. Wendlinger explained: “I was really on the limit in my lap, I couldn’t have gone any faster. I think that it will be too dark to improve in the second session, and tomorrow is likely to be too hot, so I am quite confident with my time. Anyway, as I am now sure to be close to the front in qualifying, so we are going to work for the race in the rest of the sessions. I’ve already used two new sets of tyres, and I think that most of the other competitors did too. I am quite happy !”

Second-fastest was the nr 5 Carsport Holland Corvette, with Hezemans having been on provisional pole for much of the session, with the nr 3 Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette third. The leading Maserati was in fourth, the nr 11 Scuderia Playteam Sarafree car.

In GT2, the nr 51 AF Corse Motorola Ferrari 420 GT2 set the best time, Bruni at the wheel. "This is my first 24-hour race and my first provisional pole position," he said. "For this race, I am really relying on the experience that Stephane Ortelli has. My fast lap went really well : it was my speed and Stéphane’s experience ! I was a bit stressed before going out for my night laps, but Stéphane did some laps to set up the car and the lights and finally I found a good pace, it was better than I expected. I am pleased and I enjoyed it." He was followed by the nr 97 BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche, with the nr 52 Edil Cris Racing Team Ferrari third.

G2 was led by the nr 103 Gravity Racing International Mosler, the nr 101 Vertigo having lost its fastest time due to a pit-lane infraction. The fastest car in G3 was the nr 174 Sport Garage Ferrari 430 GT3. The best of the Coupe du Roi cars was the nr 215 S-Berg Lamborghini of fast young Czech drivers Jan Charouz and Eric Janis.