Laurens Vanthoor puts Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi on pole‏

With an inspired lap Laurens Vanthoor put his #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT on pole for the 66th running of the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Just like last year Alessandro Pier Guidi took second spot on the grid, driving the #50 AF Corse Ferrari, first of the Pro-Am cars. Third went to Dutchman Stef Dusseldorp, at the wheel of the #85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes. Thirteen cars ended up in the same second, all twenty cars participating in today’s Superpole went quicker than last year’s pole position time.

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.”

Saturday programme

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 PremiereFor 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 flagFelix 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 ChallengeAt 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 firstThe 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 SessionIf 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 racingEven 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 CaféIf 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.

ConcertOn 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.

FireworksThe 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!

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Practical information

Tickets: from 15 euros, 4-days pass : 30 euro general entry, 60 euro paddock entryChildren 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

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