Caldarelli gives Lamborghini first-ever Super Pole success as Orange1 K-PAX Racing conquers Spa-Francorchamps
- Italian sets new GT3 qualifying record to seal first Lamborghini pole in Ardennes
- Orange1 K-PAX Racing becomes the first American team to claim TotalEnergies pole at the 24 Hours of Spa
- Schiller puts Al Manar Racing by HRT on Silver Cup pole with a superb effort in the #777 Mercedes-AMG
Andrea Caldarelli secured a memorable Super Pole at Spa-Francorchamps to give Lamborghini and Orange1 K-PAX Racing the best possible starting spot for the 74th TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.
This is the first-ever pole position for Lamborghini at the Belgian endurance classic, as well as the first for a team from the United States. Additionally, with a time of 2m16.221s, Caldarelli now holds the record for fastest qualifying lap in the GT3 era of the race.
The Italian was the 17th of 20 drivers to race in the decisive session, putting him among the favorites to secure the top spot. But to do so he first needed to beat the man who secured Super Pole in the previous two editions, Mercedes-AMG ace Raffaele Marciello, who put in a brilliant lap at the wheel of the #88 AMG Team Akkodis ASP.
Marciello ran 12th and lost his first flying lap for going over the track limits. The second effort got off to a solid start, as a monstrous mid-sector was enough to propel the Swiss rider to the top of the order as he passed under the checkered flag. With a time of 2m16.375s, Marciello regained the upper hand.
The next five cars were unable to topple the #88 Mercedes-AMG, while Caldarelli also failed on its opening lap. The Italian’s second attempt looked solid, but pole seemed out of reach. However, a remarkably consistent lap gave Caldarelli the crucial advantage and he crossed the line with a time of 2m16.221s. Pole was close at hand.
There was still the small problem of the Iron Lynx Ferrari team, who finished one-two in qualifying last night to earn the top places for Super Pole. But when the time came, the Ferrari challenge faded, with neither Nicklas Nielsen’s #51 nor Antonio Fuoco’s #71 able to beat Caldarelli. Indeed, neither car was in the top 10 at the end of the session.
Klaus Bachler will start from third place at the wheel of the #54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche. As is often the case, this car flew under the radar to score a superb result. The Austrian clocked 2m16.446s, just two-tenths off Caldarelli’s pole. He will share the second row with Luca Stolz (#2 AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG), who like Marciello had a much better run in Super Pole than in yesterday’s qualifying.
Mirko Bortolotti (Lamborghini #63 Emil Frey Racing) and Kevin Estre (Porsche #221 GPX Martini Racing) will form an all-star third row on the grid, with both drivers having made good progress from their slots. Mattia Drudi was the best of the Audi contingent, qualifying the #12 Team Tresor seventh in a quiet session for the Ingolstadt marque.
The Ferrari racers could only manage 11th and 13th places for the #71 and #51 cars respectively, but it should be noted that the Iron Lynx team took 13th place last year. Two other brands were represented in Super Pole, Nick Catsburg (#98 ROWE Racing BMW) and Maxime Martin (#95 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin) finishing 16th and 17th respectively.
The Silver Cup pole was also settled during the session after three cars qualified for the deciding shootout via qualifying last night. Running first, Fabian Schiller put in a very impressive performance at the wheel of the #777 Al Manar Racing by HRT Mercedes-AMG to secure ninth place overall, beating several big names along the way.
Schiller clocked 2m16.774s, beating the #30 Audi Team WRT of Thomas Neubauer by more than half a second. He could presumably have gone faster, but an error on his second lap prevented the German from improving. Konsta Lappalainen completed the Silver Cup trio, completing the top 20 in his #14 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini.
The 74th TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa kicks off tomorrow at 4.45pm and will see Orange1 K-PAX Racing aim for a first overall win for the Lamborghini brand. Every minute of the action will be streamed live in English, German, French and Italian on GT World’s YouTube channel.
Andrea Caldarelli, #6 Orange1 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini“The conditions were very different from qualifying, which took place when it was almost dark. It was like a completely different track, so I was quiet on the first lap to fully understand the levels of grip. Then I attacked on my second lap; I knew there was still something there. To have a lap without any traffic is amazing! I’m really happy to take the first pole for Lamborghini. We always been very close. It’s still a 24 hour race, but it’s good to I think this pole position really goes to all the guys in America and to Sant’Agata. It was a team effort of both sides and it really suits them.”