Mercedes-AMG takes pole for 2016 Total 24 Hours of Spa

Clemens Schmid, at the wheel of the #85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG, has claimed pole position for the 2016 Total 24 Hours of Spa, the highlight of the Blancpain GT Series and Intercontinental GT Challenge. The Austrian beat his Mercedes-AMG colleague Felix Rosenqvist (#88 AMG-Team AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG) by a mere 0.009 of a second. Fastest time in the Pro-Am Cup went to another Mercedes-AMG, the #56 Black Falcon car driven by Dani Juncadella.

Sunny conditions greeted the 20 fastest drivers participating in the Superpole session of the 2016 edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa. With those 20 cars only separated by eight tenths of a second after Thursday's qualifying session, the Superpole was expected to be an exciting affair.

By lapping in 2m18.223s Maro Engel in the #.00 AMG-Team Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG was the first to beat the quickest time of Thursday evening. But that was not enough to claim pole position, for Clemens Schmid beat last year's pole time at the wheel of the #85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG thanks to his 2m18.025s. And, almost immediately after, Felix Rosenqvist - a Spa 24 rookie - lapped within 0.009s of the Austrian's time.

Dani Juncadella (#56 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG), Maxi Götz (#86 AMG-Team HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG) and Shane Van Gisbergen (#58 Garage 59 McLaren) were the last three drivers on track, trying to get the best starting position for the Belgian endurance classic.

The Spanish Black Falcon driver was about to set a quick lap time, but was then distracted by a car on its slowing down lap and Juncadella missed his braking point in the final chicane. Than bad luck struck the fastest man of Thursday's qualifying, Shane Van Gisbergen. The McLaren driver slowed down on track, causing a yellow flag situation. That impacted most on Maxi Götz whose final flying lap - which would have been fast enough of pole - was subsequently cancelled as a result of the caution. He therefore completes a top-six solely comprising Mercedes-AMG machines.

With other cars under investigation, the official grid for the 2016 Total 24 Hours of Spa will be published on Saturday morning.

Clemens Schmid (#85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG): “I out-braked myself at the Bus Stop on lap one, which was a wake-up call for the second lap! I made a small mistake through Pouhon but was really happy with the rest. However, it is a long race; we still have 24 hours to go.”

Felix Rosenqvist (#88 AMG-Team AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG): “I think a qualifying format like the Superpole shootout is my kind of thing and really fun. It was a dream come true, actually! My run was a bit similar to Clemens’ in that I tried to set my fastest on the first lap so worked the tyres very hard during the out-lap. However, I made a big mistake at the chicane and had to go again. It is great for my team to be pushing at the front in their first year.”

Dani Juncadella (#56 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG): “You do not expect to find a car at the last corner during a Superpole session. I was not blocked but when you are on a fast lap and flat-out something like that makes a difference and I out-braked myself. It looked like a really good lap because I had the reference from yesterday. Anyway, pole position probably was not possible today. Maybe a bit higher on the grid would have been good but starting in the top-10 is nice, and obviously first in class was the objective.”