YART Yamaha stormed to pole position at Spa on Saturday as Karel Hanika set the sole 2’18 lap of the entire pack.
The Czech’s 2’18.845 lap, the quickest of the red riders, was the fastest overall, earning him the Nathalie Maillet Challenge trophy for his performance and promoting the Yamaha Official Team - consisting of Marvin Fritz and Niccolò Canepa - to its second consecutive pole position in this season’s FIM Endurance World Championship, having already claimed the spoils at Le Mans two months ago.
Under new rules for this season, EWC qualifying results are based on the average time of the fastest two riders from each team, rather than the previous three. BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team's Jérémy Guarnoni, Illya Mykhalchyk and Markus Reiterberger will line up second for Saturday’s 13:00 start with Yoshimura SERT Motul in third ahead of the eagerly anticipated day and night race. The Suzuki-powered outfit includes home hero Xavier Siméon along with teammates Gregg Black and Sylvain Guintoli - the latter on loan from BT Sport this weekend with Alex Lowes standing in for MotoGP duties.
In the Dunlop Superstock Trophy, there was a pole for Polish squad Wójcik Racing Team for whom Italian Kevin Manfredi was the fastest of its trio of riders, which also features Briton Danny Webb and Pole Marek Szkopek. BMRT 3D Maxxess Nevers, featuring Belgian Loris Cresson, was second followed by National Motos Honda.
“My team prepared a great bike and my teammates were riding in front of me and they told me how is the situation with the race track and they helped me to prepare the bike for the perfect lap,” Hanika confirmed from Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. “For myself I was just looking to have a clean lap and this I was able to achieve in the last few minutes.
”I did no mistakes and was trying to hit my lines and the bike was working great. I believe there was one or two tenths possible to do better but, for sure, you are always on the limit every time you go into qualifying. You are 100 per cent at these moments and I did the best that I could do.
“Of course we will try to win, it’s our main target every time we go into a race. We’ve worked hard since the last race in Le Mans to improve the things we were struggling with and we believe it’s now properly fixed.
“We are enjoying riding here at Spa, it’s a great circuit, we’re having a lot of fun and it’s great to share the bike with my teammates. Thanks to my team, they did an amazing job, and we have the pole position again. I am very happy.”