A guide to this weekend’s TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa
While we patiently wait for the next round of Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS, the world’s largest GT race will be contested this weekend at the legendary Spa circuit.
The 73rd running of the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa is the 11th edition to feature the GT3 regulations as the outright class.
A field of 58 entries split across nine manufacturers has already completed day and night practice sessions as well as qualifying for the event. Superpole is to come tonight where the top 20 in qualifying complete a one-lap shootout for pole.
Normally opening its season at the Bathurst 12 Hour, the SRO’s Intercontinental GT Challenge kick off instead at Spa featuring 32 of the entered teams and five registered manufacturers. Two further rounds of the IGTC follow with the Indianapolis 8 Hour and Kyalami 9 Hours.
For this race the attraction is centred primarily on the GT3 models, however there is an impressive array of driving talent tackling the race with many known to Australian fans.
Maro Engel, Kevin Estre, Earl Bamber, Markus Winkelhock, Christopher Haase, Jamie Green, Marco Wittman, Timo Glock, Robin Frijns, Maxi Buhk, Maxi Goetz, Romain Dumas, Marco Mapelli, Christopher Mies and Eddie Cheever just to name a few will suit up for the event.
Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell leads Australia’s attack on the race, ably backed up by previous Porsche Carrera Cup Australia series winner Jordan Love and experienced GT driver Josh Burdon.
Campbell and Burdon will race in Pro Class Porsche 911 GT3-Rs, while Love will contest the Silver Cup in the SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 he has raced in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS all season.
Campbell will be a contender for GPX Martini Racing teamed with Bamber and Frenchman Mathieu Jaminet, while Burdon is in his third season as part of the KCMG team, which changed to Porsche last year. He will share the driving duties with Edoardo Liberati and Alex Imperatori.
Porsche remains undefeated in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup, which is two rounds conducted at Monza in April and Paul Ricard in May.
Not only does Porsche carry good form into the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa from this current season, but it has won the last two Belgian classics through GPX Racing and Rowe Racing where Bamber was part of the driving line-up.
Mercedes joins Porsche in having strength in numbers, as does Audi, Lamborghini and Ferrari as BMW will hope to send its M6 GT3 out in style as it aims to replicate its success from 2017.
Although all entries are GT3 specification models, the race is still class-based.
Pro is the top class competing for outright glory featuring professional classes, Pro-Am is the same as the lead class in Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS with professional drivers partnering amateurs.
Silver Cup is for drivers classified as this ranking by the FIA, while the Am Cup is for amateur driver line-ups.
Points are awarded at the six, 12 and 24 Hour marks of the race. A long-time prize of the Spa 24 Hour is the Coupe du Roi (King’s Cup) – famously won by Holden in 1986 – awarded to the top scoring manufacturer, which Lamborghini is the defending winner.
Pit stops for refuelling must abide to a minimum time limit, with a one-second tolerance applied if a team goes under this on four occasions during the race. Tyre changes must not be carried out during refuelling, but these stops do not have a minimum time.
Mercedes set the pace in qualifying overnight through Raffaele Marciello, Daniel Juncadella and Jules Gounon in the AKKA-ASP example. Aston Martin, Audi and BMW are all placed within the top five in qualifying, however don’t rule out Porsche, which led the night practice session.
To catch the action, the SRO will have livestreaming of the event via its GT World Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/gt1world
The next round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS will be held at Sandown on September 17-19.