The stage is set for a thrilling 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps (BEL): The 2016 winners, Maxime Martin (BEL), Philipp Eng (AUT) and Alexander Sims (GBR), secured themselves a good starting position for the iconic endurance race with the #99 BMW M6 GT3 of ROWE Racing. In the Super Pole competition on Friday evening, Eng completed a lap of the 7.004-kilometre track in 2:18:127 minutes. This sees car number 99 start the Ardennes marathon from 11th place on the grid on Saturday. Pole position went to the #55 Ferrari.
The second-fastest BMW in the qualifying sessions, which were abandoned and interrupted after accidents, was number 35. The BMW M6 GT3 of Walkenhorst Motorsport finished in 41st place. BMW Motorsport Junior Nico Menzel (GER), Markus Palttala (FIN), Christian Krognes (NOR) and Matias Henkola (FIN) will take the wheel in the race.
Tom Blomqvist (GBR), Bruno Spengler (CAN) and Nick Catsburg (NED) on the other hand were unlucky. After technical problems with their #98 BMW M6 GT3, the trio had to make do with starting position 42 in the fiercely contested qualifying sessions, in which the first 35 cars were all within a second of each other. With the fourth BMW car in the field, Henry Walkenhorst (GER), Stef van Campenhoudt (BEL), David Schiwietz (GER) and Werner Hamprecht (GER) finished in 60th place, equivalent to starting position six in the Am Cup.
The 69th edition of the endurance classic is scheduled to get underway at 4:30 p.m. local time on Saturday. The winners will be known 24 hours later.
Quotes from the Super Pole competition:
Philipp Eng ( #99 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing): “It was so much fun completing two whole laps on the track in Spa-Francorchamps without traffic. It was sheer driving pleasure. I’m delighted that the team entrusted me with the task of competing for the Super Pole; anyone in our car could have contested the final qualifying session. The BMW M6 GT3 felt very good, so now it’s time to switch to race made and drive without making any errors for 24 hours. If we end up in the same position as last year, that would be fantastic.”
Maxime Martin ( #99 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing): “It’s a good position to start the race, quite near the front. Philipp did a great job, which we knew he would. We know that we have a really good race car, and it will be better over the course of the 24-hours than over one lap. It doesn’t matter hugely where you start here, as long as you have a clean race and the strategy is good; we saw that last year. We have to do a great job tomorrow and the day after.”
Alexander Sims ( #99 BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing): “Philipp has done a mega job, he has extracted a lot of performance from the car through practice, the qualifying sessions and now in Super Pole. We are pretty optimistic now going into the race. We will do our best, try to execute the race as well as we did last year and then we should be in a good position to fight at the front.”