Honda Team Motul are confident of a strong performance at the 24 Hours of Spa, despite heavy traffic in qualifying leaving them further down the grid than expected.
Bertrand Baguette, Mario Farnbacher and Renger van der Zande will start the race from 33rd position in their Honda NSX GT3 Evo, but believe major progress is possible on Saturday, especially with rain predicted.
With 72 cars on-track and no end of ultra-strong driver-and-team combinations the length of the Spa-Francorchamps pitlane, finding a breakthrough was always going to be tough.
A clear indication of the closeness of the field was given by a time just 1.3 seconds shy of first place being only enough for 35th place overall in pre-qualifying on the 7km circuit in the Belgian Ardennes.
Qualifying was a stop-start affair with a long stoppage in Q2 preventing Mario from setting a ‘banker’ lap early on an instead placing him in heavy traffic for the duration of his session; the current IMSA GTD points leader setting the 34th best time.
Co-driver Renger fared much better, finding a clear run through the twisty middle section of the circuit in Q3 and lapping within one second of the outright pace on his way to 14th place.
With the qualifying positions set according to the average fastest laps of the drivers of each car, the Honda Team Motul car will start the race, which begins at 16h30 on Saturday, from 33rd place overall and 20th of the Intercontinental GT Challenge-entered cars.
Customer squad Jenson Team Rocket RJN are contesting the Silver Cup class of the Blancpain GT Challenge Endurance Cup.
Their crew of Swiss Philipp Frommemwiler, Britain’s Struan Moore, Mexican Ricardo Sanchez and American Matt McMurry, start 11th of the Silver Cup competitors and 55th overall.
A 90-minute night practice followed qualifying with Honda Team Motul 32nd and Jenson Team Rocket RJN sixth of the Silver Cup cars.