The Ferraris struggled in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps, with AF Corse’s two 488 GTEs fourth and fifth in the LMGTE Pro class, while in the LMGTE Am class AF Corse no. 83 was the best-placed of the Maranello cars in fifth. This performance was down to the power imbalance between the Ferraris and their rivals, further amplified by the technical characteristics of the Belgian track.
LMGTE Pro. Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina’s 488 GTE no. 71 will start from fourth on the grid. It was the best of the Prancing Horse cars with a combined time of 2:15.356 in the qualifying session, held on a dry and sunny track. Davide Rigon was the fastest of the Ferrari drivers clocking 2:14.996 on his second lap, while Molina saw his best lap time cancelled for veering off the track. The Ferrari drivers have suffered this frequently so far, forced to go all out to try to exploit the cornering speed of the 488 GTE as the Balance of Performance limits its power on the straights. The combined times could have been better, but the Maranello cars were never likely to be in the fight for pole. James Calado, who shared car no. 51 with Alessandro Pier Guidi also saw his first lap time cancelled. The 2017 World Champions will set off immediately behind their teammates with a time of 2:15.383, which was 748 thousandths of a second slower than the Aston Martin of Lynn-Martin, with the fastest overall time.
LMGTE Am. The best result in qualifying for Maranello cars in the Am class was the fifth place secured by Perrodo-Collard-Nielsen in the 488 GTE of AF Corse, with the official Ferrari Competizioni GT driver and François Perrodo at the wheel. An average lap time of 2:17.593 was worth a third row start for the championship leaders, while their teammates in car no. 54 finished seventh. Official Ferrari Competizioni GT driver Giancarlo Fisichella and Thomas Flohr set a time of 2:18.314 with an excellent performance by the Italian. Francesco Castellacci will join them for the race. The third 488 GTE in the class, fielded by Red River Sport, will start from ninth on the grid. Johnny Mowlem and Bonamy Grimes drove in qualifying, stopping the clock on 2:18.945. The two British drivers will be joined on Saturday by Charles Hollings. Pole position went to Ried-Pera-Campbell in the Porsche.
Race. The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, which counts as the seventh round of FIA WEC Season 8 will kick off on Saturday at 1:30 pm.
Davide Rigon, 488 GTE no. 71: “I’m delighted with the result as we struggled a bit to find the car’s balance in free practice. We worked hard to improve the effectiveness of our 488 GTE along the track, and we think we found a good foundation for tomorrow’s six-hour race. Certainly, fifth place on the grid doesn’t reflect our expectations, but we are closer compared to what we saw in free practice even though the difference in power between the cars weighs heavily. Our goal is to mount the podium, and we’ll carry on working to achieve it”.
Alessandro Pier Guidi, 488 GTE no. 51: “There’s not much to say. It was hard to do better than that. The car performed quite well, but we can’t count on the same power as our rivals and so, going slower, it’s impossible to fight for pole”.
Nicklas Nielsen, 488 GTE no. 83: “We’re pretty happy with the qualifying, with the result as well. I think in the end maybe the Porsche was a bit stronger than we might have expected, but I think if we look at the bigger picture compared to our rivals, I think we did a good job. We are there for the race tomorrow. Six hours of racing will be long, and I think we are good in the long runs as well, like we used to be in the other races, and so I am looking forward to seeing what will happen”.