24 hours of spa | rossi vr46 audi only 59th, iron lynx ferrari leads pre-q

Defending 24 Hours of Spa winners Iron Lynx Ferrari landed the top spot at the end of a twice-interrupted pre-qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps, while Valentino Rossi’s VR46 WRT squad could only manage 59th of the 66 entrants.

Taking place in warm but overcast conditions, the hour-long session proved notably slower than that of the longer first free practice session in the morning, while the field was notably split between teams seeking single lap performance and those getting dialled in for the race.

Nevertheless, it was one of the hot favourites for glory this weekend that emerged at the summit of the timesheets with the #51 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 – this year steered by Miguel Molina, James Calado and Nicklas Nielsen – turning in a time of 2m 18.292secs.

24 hours of spa | rossi vr46 audi only 59th, iron lynx ferrari leads pre-q

That put the trio just 0.030s ahead of the GPX Martini Porsche of Richard Leitz, Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, while the AMG GetSpeed Mercedes and Inception McLaren made it four manufacturers inside a top four covered by little more than a tenth.

A session all-but-curtailed ten minutes early after Stephen Grove dropped the Earl Bamber Porsche to bring out the red flag, the ill-timed stoppage proved particularly damaging for the VR46 WRT Audi being driven by ex-MotoGP rider Rossi, Frederic Vervisch and Nico Muller.

Having been denied precious track time in free practice after Muller suffered a crash at Speaker’s Corner, Rossi found himself having to learn his way around Spa-Francorchamps in this session instead, with the Italian responsible for a time that placed the car 59th on the timesheets.

Compounding the team’s frustration, Rossi handed over to Vervisch at the precise moment the red flags were deployed, preventing the local driver from getting out on track to attempt a quicker lap time.

Despite the lowly position, however, it is worth noting there were no Audi entries in the upper reaches of the timesheets in pre-qualifying.

Indeed, with the sister #32 WRT entry having topped the timesheets in the morning with a lap time quicker than that of Iron Lynx this afternoon, each Audi entry spent the afternoon focusing on race strategies. As a result, the quickest Audio in the session was only 24th fastest.

Rossi’s Spa initiation continues later tonight with official qualifying – a session split into four groups to determine which cars go through to Friday’s Superpole – while he will also get his first taste of tackling Eau Rouge in the dark with this evening’s night practice, which gets underway at 21.20 (UK).

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