The summer break is over in our anniversary season – and the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup teams gathered for the 6th round at Spa-Francorchamps. The legendary mountain and valley track thrills with spectacular corners. If only it would stop raining…
Despite the mixed conditions at the start of the race weekend, all 32 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup took to the grid for practice. The field of regular drivers was again joined by a number of guest drivers: While #35 Ariel Levi (ISR/Huber Racing) and Team ID Racing have already raced in the Supercup this season, #33 Huub van Eijndhoven (NLD/GP Elite), #4 Sebastian Freymuth (DEU/SSR Huber Racing), #40 Willem Meijer (NLD/ID Racing), Michael Verhagen (NLD/ID Racing) and American #13 Howard Blank (C.L.R.T.) made their debut in the series. Before the rain started, #2 Rudy van Buren (NLD/Huber Racing) took advantage of a narrow window of fine weather to set the best practice time.
Before Qualifying Session, #5 Dylan Pereira (LUX/BWT Lechner Racing) wasn't quite sure whether he wanted to drive the fastest time. The reason for this is the layout of the Formula 1 circuit in the Ardennes: Shortly after the start, following the spectacular combination of Eau Rouge and Raidillon corners, there is the Kemmel straight, which is around two kilometres long and therefore the perfect place to overtake from the slipstream. Porsche Junior #3 Laurin Heinrich (DEU/SSR Huber Racing), in the approximately 375 kW (510 hp) Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, second fastest in qualifying, saw it differently.
Things are usually pretty chaotic after the start in the La Source hairpin: "The further back you are in the field, the riskier it is. You're only safe there if you started from pole position.
Pereira and Heinrich were part of a group of five that had already pulled away from the rest of the field in the overall standings. Also in the group was reigning Supercup champion #25 Larry ten Voorde (NLD/Team GP Elite), who still had the best chance of a top result in Sunday's race with fourth place on the grid. The current third in the standings from the Netherlands shared the second row with Frenchman #12 Marvin Klein (CLRT). Rookies #9 Lorcan Hanafin (GBR/FACH AUTO TECH) from Great Britain and #7 Bastian Buus (DNK/BWT Lechner Racing) qualified for row three. The Dane was in fifth place overall, after five races.
Brit #6 Harry King (BWT Lechner Racing) saw his luck run out. Fourth in the overall standings, he was on track for a possible best time in the final seconds of the dry qualifying session. However, shortly before the finish line he was involved in a collision while overtaking a slower competitor. This meant that King's fastest full lap was an earlier one, leaving him eighth fastest overall.
Dylan Pereira solidifies his lead with a third victory.
The Luxembourger secured pole position for the Porsche Supercup race at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, and defended his position from the start. He continued to pull away from the other cars lap after lap. At the finish, after twelve laps, Pereira's lead over Dutchman Larry ten Voorde was almost seven seconds – an eternity by Supercup standards.
However, the defending champion from Team GP Elite snatched second place with an impressive overtaking manoeuvre against Porsche Junior Heinrich. Taking advantage of a gap on the last braking turn at the end of the final straight, he moved ahead of Laurin Heinrich. The Junior took it in his stride, and he was not at his best throughout the race. Under the circumstances, the 20-year-old from near Würzburg was quite satisfied to get on the podium with his third place finish, and he remained second in the standings.
I actually went easy on my tires at the start because I wanted to be prepared for a restart after a safety car period. I only picked up the pace a bit in the final laps. Then it was just a matter of not making any mistakes.
Pereira's third win of the season extended his lead in the standings to twelve points. In contrast, defending champion Larry ten Voorde is pinning all his hopes on the upcoming home race at Zandvoort. He is already 15 points behind Pereira with two races to go. So if he still wants to have a realistic chance of being crowned champion, he absolutely has to win next weekend. However, as he said himself, he will need to improve if he wants to win, because at Spa-Francorchamps, Pereira was just too fast.
At the end of the 30th Supercup season, a three-way battle for the title is crystallising. Three drivers from three different teams are very close together in the Overall Standings. The final phase is sure to be exciting.
A title decision in the Rookie Classification was postponed for another day. Bastian Buus continued his perfect streak and set a record in the Rookie standings with his sixth win in a row. However, as sixth overall, Buus did not collect enough points to be crowned champion just yet. Lorcan Hanafin, the Brit from the FACH AUTO TECH team, put the proverbial spoke in his wheel with a seventh place finish, his best result of the season so far. Hanafin still has a chance – albeit a slim one – of catching Buus in the race for the Rookie title.
First place in the ProAm standings was secured for the second time this season by Brit #23 Aaron Mason from Pierre Martinet by Alméras. Mason's Norwegian teammate #21 Roar Lindland defended his lead in the standings in this category with a creditable third place finish.
The next round is coming up next weekend, in Zandvoort. The race in Spa-Francorchamps was the start of a so-called triple header for the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. The seventh round is scheduled for next weekend at Zandvoort from 2 to 4 September 2022. The season finale in Monza in northern Italy will follow a week later. There, at the latest, it will be clear who will go home the Champion in the anniversary season of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup – we can't wait!