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Intercontinental GT Challenge

WRT Audi Quickest Again in Red Flag-Disrupted Pre-Qualifying

Dries Vanthoor sets fastest lap of Pre-Qualifying practice for Audi Sport Team WRT…

Photo: Jules Benichou/21 Creation

Audi Sport Team WRT set the overall pace again in Pre-Qualifying practice for the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, courtesy of an early fast lap time from Dries Vanthoor.

The Belgian driver led a red flag-disrupted 60-minute practice session aboard the No. 32 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, which also went quickest in Free Practice on Thursday morning with Kelvin van der Linde at the helm.

The red flag occurred after 46 minutes when Robert Renauer’s Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R incurred a puncture through Blanchimot before spinning wildly through the run-off leading to Bus Stop, destroying a polystyrene marker as it went.

Track action resumed after a stoppage of just under seven minutes, while Renauer was able to bring his car back to the pits.

Vanthoor’s top time of 2:18.787 marked a quarter of a second improvement on his co-driver van der Linde’s flyer from the first collective practice session of the weekend.

Pro-Am leader Marvin Kirchhofer ended up second overall with a time of 2:19.139 that put the Garage 59 Aston Martin driver 0.352 seconds off Vanthoor’s pace.

Kirchhofer, who is at Spa as a late stand-in for Jonny Adam, initially topped the outright leaderboard before Vanthoor made an improvement after eight minutes of running.

Marco Wittmann’s 2:19.170 effort put the No. 34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 third in Pre-Qualifying, while Earl Bamber was fourth in the GPX Racing Porsche.

Wittmann went fourth initially before taking two-tenths off his original fastest time to jump ahead of Bamber, who is a defending 24 Hours of Spa race winner.

Kevin Estre jumped to fifth during the seven minutes of running after the red flag.

The 2019 Spa winner hauled the No. 21 Rutronik Racing Porsche up the order with a time that was identical to Bamber’s. The GPX driver got the nod in the final classification due to his time coming earlier in the session.

This bumped Daniel Juncadella in the No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo to sixth, while Pierre-Alexandre Jean finished seventh in the Silver Cup-leading No. 107 CMR Bentley Continental GT3.

Jean initially showed up in second but had that lap time deleted due to track limits.

Recent DTM race winner Philip Ellis found some late pace to end up 0.053 seconds behind Jean in the Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG that is also entered in Silver Cup.

Christopher Haase of Audi Sport Team Sainteloc and Ben Barnicoat in the JOTA McLaren 720s GT3 completed the top ten.

The fastest Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 was the No. 71 Iron Lynx machine in 13th, while Lamborghini’s best representative in Pre-Qualifying was Grasser Racing Team in 24th.

Huber Motorsport’s Porsche set the pace in the Am Cup category.

In addition to the red flag, Pre-Qualifying included two other incidents that only required local yellow flag warnings.

One was an off for Franco Colapinto in the No. 30 WRT Audi at Les Combes, while the other was a spin for Daniel Allemann who managed to free the rear wheels of Herberth Motorsport’s Porsche from the Campus gravel.

RESULTS: Pre-Qualifying

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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