LMES - Spa-Francorchamps - Saturday Morning Report
A Spa Mixture
This first qualifying
session was just typically Spa: early arrivals at the track were
greeted with mist hanging between the trees, and a wet track after
overnight thundery rain.
out on wets to begin with, but after that, plans differed wildly.
Some like Sam
Hancock in the factory Courage went onto slicks very early. “I
did two timed laps on wets, then changed to slicks. My first lap
on slicks was as quick as my second lap on wets, so it was the right
thing to do.”
A red flag with
ten minutes to go was the signal for some to join Hancock on slicks
for a last thrash, but the provisional pole was set by Pierre Kaffer
– on intermediates.
on wets at the beginning, but then we switched to intermediates,
and we stayed on them until the end,” said the young German.
“With just eight minutes left at the end, there wasn’t
time to go onto slicks, with all that traffic out there. It was
better to stay on intermediates.”
#8 pit board
man David Cleverdon was spotted having a chuckle with Pierre Kaffer
immediately after the conclusion of the session. “Pierre hit
the pit board! I was holding it at exactly the height he asked for
it to be placed, and he hit it. He was so close to the pit wall.”
Were you very
close Pierre? “Yes, I am always close to the wall, to get
the best line for Eau Rouge. But I didn’t feel a thing, I
didn’t know I had hit it until after the session.”
seen this young chap demonstrate his prowess in changing conditions
before – and here was another example of a young star excelling
in tricky weather.
of the session – a very busy one – went something like
The new Lucchini
was briefly up to sixth overall and comprehensively outpacing the
factory Courage C65 in the opening minutes, but at the top of the
timesheets it was a straight fight between Jamie Davies and Pierre
Kaffer in the Veloqx Audi R8s.
was a very good fifth in the RML Lola, while Justin Keen was going
well in the Lister, although the team was concentrating on a wet
set-up, and didn’t expect to go dramatically quickly towards
The same applied
to the Creation DBA. “We were 15 minutes late out and that
ruined our session in terms of getting a good time at the end,”
explained race engineer Ian Smith. “We wanted to check the
wet set-up, then change to a dry set-up towards the end –
which would only have taken five minutes. But trouble with the gear
change at the start meant we were on the wrong tyres (inters.) and
the wrong set-up for the last few minutes.”
shrugged his shoulders – at being sixth quickest.
Jonny Kane in
the #41 RSR TVR was quickest in class virtually throughout the first
half an hour, until the red flag. Warren Hughes was content to leave
one of his partners in the car throughout. “It’s much
better to leave Jonny in while the conditions are changing all the
time. It’s a team effort here, and this is why we work so
well together. He didn’t get much time in the car yesterday
TVR had been a very good fourth early on (Steve Hyde).
Both RSR TVRs
had slicks fitted for the last few minutes, and they ended up fifth
The sun briefly
appeared with about 18 minutes of the session to go, and by this
time we already had Cirtek on slicks (both the Porsche and Ferrari)
– and this would help these two entries during the last few
In LMP2, the
Tracsport Lola was also one to go out on slicks earlier than most.
Opinions were divided up and down the pit lane. Paul Whight in the
GNM Saleen was sure that wets were still the tyres to have, as David
Leslie went out for the middle period of the session. Phil Bennett
is at the 'Ring today.
Before the break,
Pierre Kaffer was down into the 2:20s, about 13-14 seconds off a
dry lap, but Jamie Davies was marginally quicker.
In GTS Hezemans
on his inters. was battling with Alzen’s Saleen – and
the Ferrari was ahead. “Inters. was absolutely the right choice,”
said the Dutchman. "Our car isn’t quick enough in the
dry, but in tricky conditions we were quickest in GTS.”
Then it was
went wrong at the Bus Stop. “I came down the gears from sixth
all the way to first and turned in to the left hander as normal,
then the throttle stuck and it drove me into the wall, on full power.
There wasn’t time to switch the power off, because the wall
is so close there. A lot of damage, really, a lot of damage. It’s
so silly – just a little thing. It was a 10 cents spring on
the throttle. We had the same thing at Le Mans.
think they can fix that for the race.”
That was the
Dutchman's initial reaction, but things were looking up a little
me more than when I went off in the Viper at Eau Rouge," said
the stiff-necked Hezemans.
Once the Barron
Connor 575 had been removed and the session got underway again,
it was Kaffer and Davies on their inters at the head of the queue,
the German down into the 2:16s.
teams were sticking with one driver, Jota had cycled through all
three, which was good planning as it allowed Sam Hignett back in
the car at the end – and he set a very impressive fourth best
time, a 2:15.858 on slicks. The Jota team let slip that Hignett
was on for a 2:11 until he met traffic. He was also on the harder
of two Dunlop compounds, and the softer ones are the marked set
for the race start.
was also flying (on slicks) in the Pescarolo, fifth fastest at the
end, just ahead of Minassian in the Creation DBA and Barbosa and
Erdos in the Dallara and RML Lola – impressive performances
from everyone here. The Nasamax set an unrepresentative 2:19, Werner
Luperberger unable to find a clear lap to show what he and the DM139
can really achieve. Tommy Erdos also commented on the volume of
traffic. He's still suffering with the bad back he had at Imola
last week, the legacy of a fall down some stairs.
reckoned that "our dry set-up is very good (on the Pescarolo),
but the wet set-up is not do good." Gounon is getting most
of the time in this car.
had the factory Courage up to speed in ninth overall – fastest
in LMP2… by eleven seconds, from the WR and the new Lucchini.
It was even more topsy turvy in LMP2 than usual.
was “mega” according to Filippo Francioni, but the new
LMP2 was out on soft wets at the end, hence its unrepresentative
time. There are still one of two minor gearbox gremlins popping
up from time to time.
conditions seemed to suit the Porsches, with Maassen, Pompidou and
Collard humbling the TVR – and then Kirkaldy popping up second
fastest in the Cirtek Ferrari, for a Cirtek 1-2.
reckoned that “we waited for the right moment to try slicks,
and (the provisional GTS) pole was the result,” for the Vitaphone
Saleen. Larbre didn’t go out early on with the two 550s, until
the track showed signs of drying, then just after the two set off,
the red flag came out. Pedro Lamy set three good laps (2:41, 33
and 28) as he brought his tyres in, but ran out of time to challenge
the Konrad car.
So a very mixed
session – and the forecast is for a wet track this afternoon.