With the twenty fastest cars of Thursday’s qualifying sessions taking to the track at twenty second intervals, the Superpole session for the 2014 Total 24 Hours of Spa would always be a frantic affair. Each driver had the opportunity to do two timed laps, and it was soon clear that the second of those quick laps of the 7 km circuit had the potential of being the quicker of the two. Just before the start of the session a small rain shower had crossed the track but conditions on the Belgian asphalt were improving all the time.
Steven Kane in the #7 M-Sport Bentley was the first driver to clock a low 2’19, but his time was quickly improved by Stef Dusseldorp in the #85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes. The Dutchman, 18th in Thursday’s qualifying sessions, was the first driver this weekend to break the 2’19 barrier. His 2’18.934 proved to be difficult to beat, but when Laurens Vanthoor and Alessandro Pier Guidi unleashed their big guns, it was clear that they would decide who would start from pole on Saturday.
Laurens Vanthoor was the first to cross the line, in 2’18.710. Because Pier Guidi had set the best time of all drivers in the first sector, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT-driver had to wait for the Italian colleague to cross the line to be sure he had done enough. Despite being quickest in the final sector as well, the AF Corse Ferrari-driver came up 0.046 of a second short, which meant that Belgian Vanthoor claimed pole position for the Belgian highlight of the Blancpain Endurance Series.
Laurens Vanthoor (#1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT): “When I crossed the line I felt good about my lap, but I never expected it to be good enough for pole position. So when my engineer told me that I was P1, I was quite surprised. It’s fantastic to be on pole, as a Belgian driver for a Belgian team in the most important Belgian race of the year, but this was easy compared to what we have to do on Saturday and Sunday. It will be a very hard race, I think there will be at least fifteen cars having a go at the win.”
Alessandro Pier Guidi (#50 AF Corse Ferrari, 1st Pro-Am): “I have to thank the team, because they gave me a fantastic car for this Superpole session. I am quite happy about my lap, even though the middle sector was not perfect. That cost me the pole probably, but I am still happy to be on the front row, like last year. This time I promise that I will try to have a start without making any mistakes.”
Stef Dusseldorp (#85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes): “On Thursday I could not put a good lap together, so I expected to be higher up today. Third is above all expectations, though. This does not guarantee anything for the race, however. It will be very tough, but now we know the speed is there.”
Apart from the warm-up for the 2014 Total 24 Hours of Spa (9:05) and the start of the race itself (16:30) there is plenty to see at the Spa track tomorrow.
Bentley Continental GT3-R World Dynamic Premiere
For the first time ever a new car will be presented during a Blancpain Endurance Series event. At 14:20 the Bentley Continental GT3-R will have its World Dynamic Premiere, when the car will lead the RACB GT Club parade. The British supercar will have a production run of 300, but the car you will see is the only Continental GT3-R in existence at the moment. Bentley Boy Jérôme D'Ambrosio & Bentley’s chief engineer Rolf Frech will be at the wheel of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 machine.
Felix Baumgartner waves the flag
Felix Baumgartner will be the official starter of the 2014Total 24 Hours of Spa. Baumgartner's most recent project was Red Bull Stratos, in which he jumped to Earth from a helium balloon in the stratosphere on 14 October 2012. As part of this project, the 45-year old Austrian set the altitude record for a manned balloon flight, parachute jump from the highest altitude, and greatest free fall velocity.
Virtual 24 hours in GT-Nismo Challenge
At the same time as the Total 24 Hours of Spa, four teams of four drivers will compete in the GT-Nismo Challenge, a virtual version of the endurance classic. SRO Motorsports Group will be represented as well, by four youngsters: Régis Gosselin (grandson of 1964 Spa 24 hours winner), Guillaume Mondron (recent winner of the 25 Hours Fun Cup), Timo Van Impe and Samuel Lay (both were finalists at the Virtual GT3 challenge earlier this year). Their race starts at 16:30 on Saturday… and ends on Sunday at the same time!
See the future first
The Nismo GT Academy is always looking for new ‘gamers-turned-racers’ and one of the final qualifying rounds before the European Race Camp in Silverstone will be held on Saturday. The best Belgian, Dutch and Luxemburg candidates will be given a final chance to get one of three wild cards to travel to Great Britain and try to step into the footsteps of Wolfgang Reip.
Pit Walk and Drivers’ Autograph Session
If you want to take a close look at the cars and drivers of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, be sure not to miss the pit walk. Pits will be open to all members of the public at 14:20. A drivers’ autograph session will be organised at the same time.
Close to racing
Even during the race you will be able to get a close look at the action. Pit box n° 24 in the F1 pitlane will open to the holders of a paddock pass. The ideal location to watch the team crews in action during the pitstops. Owning a paddock pass holds other advantages as well: this year, the terraces of the F1 pit building will be open to the public, providing the fans with a unique view of the pitlane and the track.
Dinner with a view: Raidillon Café
If you want to enjoy a good meal whilst admiring one of the most iconic views of the legendary Spa circuit, come and visit the Raidillon Café at the famous corner bearing the same name. The Total 24 hours of Spa restaurant at the top of the world’s famous corner is open to everyone. At this magical place you will have the opportunity to recharge your batteries and not miss a second of the race.
On Saturday Night the village becomes the scene of the now traditional concert. This year we can introduce a line-up of internationally renowned DJ’s: Belgian Mix My Day-residents Ice Kream, Swiss star Quentin Mosimann (voted best DJ in 2014), Belgian hit machine Yves V and World Music Award nominee Joachim Garraud, an internationally renowned DJ from France. The concert starts at 21:00 and the DJ’s will move the dance crowd until the early hours of Sunday morning.
The traditional fireworks display will light up the cars racing in the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Expect it to start around 22:45.
And last but not least, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, with the hashtags #BlancpainGT and #Spa24h. Have a great race!
Tickets: from 15 euros, 4-days pass : 30 euro general entry, 60 euro paddock entry
Children of 12 years old or younger, accompanied by an adult, will have free entry to the track.
Saturday 26 July : Start of the Total 24 hours of Spa,16:30
Information and reservation: www.total24hours.com / www.blancpain-gt-series.com
Facebook : Total 24 hours of Spa / Twitter : @24hoursofspa / @blancpaingt
Over 275 years of tradition in motion :
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit. From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past nine years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 32 new calibres.
Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the sportive L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.
Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier
Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.
With operations in more than 130 countries, Total is a top-tier international oil company and a world-class natural gas operator, refiner and petrochemical producer. Our 97,000 employees leverage their acknowledged expertise to discover, produce, refine and convert oil and gas to provide products and services for customers worldwide. We are also broadening our offer by developing energies that can partner oil and gas — today, solar energy and tomorrow, biomass.
In Belgium, our Group possesses a long history as an energy supplier and is mainly active in the chemical and refining sectors, together with marketing and service activities, employing some 4500 people. As the market leader, Total Belgium is known to respond to its clients’ needs, and brings innovative solutions through its products and services. Total helps its clients to reduce consumption in a better and more efficient way, through a varied range of products like the Excellium fuel, the Fuel Economy lubricants, fuel oil and wood pellets for heating, aviation fuel, super, diesel, LPG, asphalt, lubricants…
SRO Motorsports Group
SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.
In 2014, SRO promotes several championships and series, such as the Blancpain GT Series with the Blancpain Sprint Series and the Blancpain Endurance Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa, the Cooper Tires British F3 Championship, the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and has various franchise agreements including the GT4 European Series.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.