Next stop - green flag for the Garage 59 AMR trio at this years Spa 24

Friday, July 30, 2021

This evening’s final laps of Superpole for the top twenty runners from last night’s Qualifying rounds set the grid for the start of tomorrows running of the Total Energie Spa 24.

With no endurance race ever being won from pushing the boundaries too far during Free Practice and Qualifying, the three Garage 59 entered Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3’s have set themselves up to give themselves the best possible start around one of the most iconic racetracks in the world for one of the toughest 24hour races in the world as part of this year’s GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup season.

Last night we saw the individual Qualifying rounds for each of Garage 59’s Pro-Am and Silver Cup entries as well as the three legs for their AMR factory supported Pro effort specific for this event.

Under the watchful eyes of many from the AMR factory team Alex West (#188) and Tuomas Tujula (#159) were out in the first session with just twenty-seven runners followed later by Chris Goodwin (#159) and Alex MacDowall (#159) and Nicki Thiim (#95) with the full fifty-eight cars on track. Incidents on track during this session lead to two red flags leaving those unfortunate not to have set a time with little time within which to make sure. Whilst Goodwin claimed the fastest time in Pro-Am, MacDowall was caught in heavy traffic leaving their Silver Cup entry lower down the order than perhaps they deserved to by Thiim had already set a time good enough for P2, so he was done early.

Now in complete darkness from the delays of Q2, Charlie Eastwood (#188), Valentin Hasse-Clot (#159) and Ross Gunn (#95) were out next, and it was a battle royale between the AMR factory and AMR factory junior drivers which left the young Irishman ahead of the young Brit on track with the #188 car again claiming top honours. Finally, it was the turn of Marvin Kirchhofer (#188) who had been one the fastest drivers out there in Pre-Qualifying who rounded off a successful Qualifying session for their Pro-Am car to finish his session in P3 – good enough for them to claim the overall class pole for Saturday’s race. Nicolai Kjaergaard was out in the #159 where he too suffered with the effects of traffic (eventually Qualifying in P13 in class) as well did Marco Sorensen now in the #95 Pro class entered car but at least the times were good enough to claim a P2 slot in this evenings Superpole.

Then there was more drama this evening when Nicki Thiim ran the #95 cars Superpole laps – two fast laps on new rubber within a defined time band during the allotted thirty-minute session.

Reported late on pit lane exit to Race Control (outside of the permitted two-minute window), Thiim’s first lap was only good enough for P10 but his second flying lap elevated them to P3 for tomorrows race – or so they thought!!

Confirmation later came through that the #95 car had indeed been penalised from its original P3 finishing position with a 0.254 of a second added to its best lap time (the time they were late leaving pit lane at the start of their session) and that dropped the car down to P8 overall on grid. We wait to hear if the team can or indeed will appeal against that decision.

Either way, that decision will not affect the outcome of the 24-hour race as consistency, team work and a whole lot of luck (especially through the long night) will determine who finishes the race first!!

Good luck to them all.

Photo credits – GTWCE / Garage 59

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