SPA-FRANCHORCHAMPS, Belgium—Even with a record number of cars entered for Saturday’s Six Hours of Spa, Kamui Kobayashi survived a scare from a rival Ferrari to take another pole on Friday for his Toyota Gazoo Racing team along with co-drivers Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez.
Kobayashi recorded a time of 2:00:812 quickest lap around the nearly eight-kilometer-long circuit, but the Japanese driver this time accomplished it out of luck, as Ferrari’s former F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi posted an even faster time of 2:00:770 but was disqualified from that quick lap due to a violation of track limits. Nevertheless, the Italian in the Ferrari Corse 499 P managed to only grab a consolation in third place, with his sister car driven by Miquel Molina taking second.
For the rest of the Hypercar field, the American built Cadillac V-cars took an amazing fourth and fifth, with Earl Bamber and Sebastian Bourdais, respectively. Following them were the Porsche Penske with Kevin Estre at the wheel in sixth, along with the JOTA Hertz Porsche in its first race debut, finishing seventh with Will Stevens. The only non-hybrid in the hypercar field, Glickenhaus Racing, took eighth with Olivier Pla, while the first Peugeot with Jean-Eric Vergne was ninth, ahead of the second Penske Porsche of Frederic Makowiecki. Gustavo Menezes in the second Peugeot followed, with the Vanwall team car, driven by Tom Dillmann in 12th.
But for Vanwall, they were not the last car on the hypercar grid as the second Toyota Gazoo and series leader of Brendon Hartley, Sebastian Buemi and Rio Harakawa did not post a time in qualifying, as Hartley himself crashed his car at Raidillon during the preparation lap and the team will begin Saturday’s event from the rear of the grid.
In the LMP 2 class, United Autosports put their claim on pole with Tom Blomqvist, who missed Sebring with a retirement and did not take part in the last round in Portugal, posted a time of 2:05:979 ahead of the WRT home team car driven by Louis Deletraz. Prema Racing took third with former F1 driver Dani Kvyat at the wheel. The second WRT with Robin Frijns was fourth, with the gold livery JOTA in fifth with Pietro Fittipaldi. The second Prema car, driven by Bent Viscaal was sixth.
The GTE AM class was to be expected to be a battle between the American Ben Keating’s Corvette and the Iron Dames female squad, but it turned out to be nothing of it as the TF Aston Martin with Ahmad Al Harthy took his first career pole with a 2:17:216 fastest time, followed by Iron Dames Sarah Bovy, driving on her home circuit. Third was Ryan Hardwick in the Dempsey Porsche 911 RSR-19 with Keating in fourth. The Ferrari Richard Mille AF Corse, who finished second at the last race, was fifth with Luis Perez Companc, considering the car had two practice accidents. Northwest AMR was next in sixth with Ian James driving.
Besides Hartley, the only other accident on the day was American PJ Hyett in his Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR-19, who crashed at the same corner, but was unhurt.
The race on Saturday will begin at 12:45 local time and will be covered by many networks on cable and satellite around the entire world.
By Mark Gero