Audi Sport has been left “surprised” by the pace of Ferrari following Thursday’s practice and qualifying sessions for the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa according to its customer racing boss.
The pair of Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 entries swept the first two positions in qualifying, led by a record-breaking 2:16.920 lap from Antonio Fuoco, with the best Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II qualifying fourth ahead of this evening’s Super Pole.
With all of its cars except for the No. 46 Team WRT entry so far having trouble-free runs, Audi Sport’s Chris Reinke is hopeful of being closer in the fight come the race.
“I think we had a good preparation, good setup, otherwise we wouldn’t have picked it,” Reinke told Sportscar365.
“The unknown factor is the track changes. The worries that have been discussed publicly about gravel beds and stones, tire durability or even potential tire failures.
“We haven’t seen many so far, so that’s positive but we are alert on that situation.
“I think so far we didn’t damage anything. We had the one engine issue on the 46 [car] but other than that we’re fine. It’s running pretty much to plan.”
Reinke admitted the pace of the Ferraris has caused some reason for concern, especially as he believes the rest of the field has been more-or-less balanced.
The Italian manufacturer enters the race as defending winners, with Alessandro Pier Guidi, Nicklas Nielsen and Come Ledogar taking top honors in a dramatic conclusion to the Belgian enduro following a battle with Audi’s Dries Vanthoor.
“When we leveled the cars into performance we were surprised by Ferrari yesterday,” said Reinke. “The rest seemed to be leveled to expectation.
“I think there is for sure more to be seen from some competitors.
“[Mercedes] AMG has more to go but that doesn’t mean that they worry me. The only surprise so far has been the Ferrari.”
WRT team principal Vincent Vosse said he has also been surprised by Ferrari’s pace in qualifying although admitted that it’s “difficult to tell” what it will ultimately translate to.
“It looks quick now,” he said. “Let’s say it was very impressive to see in Q1 the Ferrari was able to the best lap in qualifying with 80 liters of fuel.”
Reinke added: “Competitive for me is when we’re all leveled. When I point out one single brand, my feeling is that it might be a bit out of level.”
The German manufacturer, which won the Nürburgring 24, is looking to rebound from a disappointing start to its Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli campaign in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, a race that saw Mercedes-AMG sweep the overall podium.
“It was a heartbreaking result in Bathurst for sure,” said Reinke. “We were good-fortuned in Bathurst and we threw it away.
“For sure we had a tremendous comeback at the Nürburgring where we kept the ultimate focus and probably had worse fortunes than in Bathurst but had the possibility to win it.
“I would hope that here it comes positive fortune plus the focus that we will go home successful.”