1000 KM of Spa: Audi on pole, Peugeot gambles wrong
Timo Bernhard secured pole position for the 1000 KM of Spa-Francorchamps for Audi Sport Team Joest in a dramatic qualifying session on the Spa circuit.
All three Audi R18 TDI cars went out on track early in the session, with Peugeot opting to stay in their pit boxes. Bernhard lapped the Spa circuit in 2:01.502, almost three tenths of a second quicker than Andre Lotterer. Tom Kristensen was another three tenths slower in third.
Shortly after the Peugeots had gone out and completed their first time lap, with Gené in 13th, Pagenaud in 18th place and Sarrazin without a time yet, OAK Racing’s Mathieu Lahaye crashed heavily. The OAK Racing Pescarolo slammed into the barrier on the straight towards the Pouhon corner. A severely damaged OAK Pescarolo, a huge hole in the barrier and lots of debris on the track made it impossible to continue. The session was red flagged and was not restarted.
As a result of the stoppage Nicolas Lapierre secured fourth for ORECA, just ahead of the Rebellion Racing Lola Toyota of Nicolas Prost.
In LMP2 the Oreca cars were first, second and third in the first couple of minutes, but then Danny Watts took the Strakka Racing HPD ARX-01d around the track and went just 0.124s quicker than the TDS Racing Oreca 03 Nissan. Signatech Nissan was third quickest.
In the GTE classes it was AF Corse’s Jaime Melo who took pole position. The Brazilian was the first of three Ferrari drivers in the standings. His 2:20.743 was just under two tenths quicker than JMW Motorsport’s Rob Bell and AF Corse’s Giancarlo Fisichella.
Best of the rest was the Marc Lieb driven Team Felbermayr Proton Porsche, with Augusto Farfus’ BMW in fifth. Andy Priaulx was trying to break into the top five, but a spin at the Bus Stop chicane on his last lap ruined his chances. That was after a bad start when the pit limiter was still activated as the BMW got out onto the track.
In GTE AM it was IMSA Performance Matmut’s Nicolas Armindo who took the pole position, while Neil Garner Motorsport’s Phil Keen took the Formula Le Mans pole position.
Mathieu Lahaye was taken to the hospital in Verviers for precautionary checks. He was awake and alert, shocked and complaining of back pains. This is good news given the impact and the state of the car.