The 69th edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa promises to be one of the best editions in the rich history of the endurance classic. No fewer than 66 GT3 cars will be racing during the highlight of the Blancpain GT Series, making it the biggest race exclusively for GT3 cars on the motorsports planet. Fans will see plenty of action, and will also be entertained by the varied off-track activities, including the unique trackside concerts on Saturday evening.
Ever since the Total 24 Hours of Spa became the highlight of the Blancpain GT Series, the level of the twice-round-the-clock race in the Belgian Ardennes has gone from strength to strength. It has become the GT3 race that every driver and every manufacturer wants to win. In 2017, this results in what is arguably the strongest entry list ever in the history of the race.
No fewer than 36 cars are entered with an all-Pro driver line-up, and for the first time these cars represent ten prestigious manufacturers: Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Nissan and Porsche are all represented by strong ambassadors.
German manufacturers have won every edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa since it was included in the Blancpain GT Series. With eight cars, Audi has the highest number of machines in the overall category this year. The brand with the four rings lends its official support to five cars, entered by the ISR, Saintéloc and Belgian Audi Club Team WRT teams. Together, these squads also enter three more cars. Mercedes-AMG – seven cars, two of them with official support – are also keen to conquer the win that has eluded them for the last three editions, but with two cars, BMW squad ROWE Racing will do all it takes to make it three-in-a-row for the Bavarian brand. The fourth German manufacturer may only have one representative in the Ardennes, the KÜS Team75 Bernhard 911 GT3, but with its strong line-up it would be foolish not to include it in the list of possible race-winners.
Up against the German manufacturers are the Japanese, British and Italian brands. The latter – represented by three Ferraris and five Lamborghinis – have had little or no luck in the GT3 version of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, but considering the results in the previous rounds of the 2017 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup that might well change this year.
The same goes for the Brits: Bentley won the previous endurance round and want revenge for the way last year’s edition of the Spa 24 ended, the Emil Frey Jaguar goes from strength to strength in each race, and although this year’s results might not be up to their high standards, McLaren still has the reigning Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup champions in their ranks.
And do not forget about the Nissans. They too have former endurance champions at the wheel, and with the high top speed of the GT-R Nismo GT3, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with.
With 23 cars entered, the fight in the Pro-Am Cup is as open as the battle for the overall win. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Ferrari 488 GT3 are the cars of choice – six of each, including four Black Falcon machines and a Ferrari for reigning endurance champion Kessel Racing – but with four Lamborghinis (keep an eye on double 2017 race winner Barwell Motorsport), two Audis, two Porsches, a BMW, a McLaren and an Aston Martin (for Monza winners Oman Racing) it is impossible to predict who will take the top step.
And though they are not quite as numerous, the same goes for the cars in the Am Cup. Most of the driver line-ups are yet to be finalised, but with seven cars representing five manufacturers, this race-in-the-race will again be interesting too watch.
Track action for the Total 24 Hours of Spa already starts on Tuesday July 25th, with the Bronze Test. Thursday sees the Free Practice, Pre-Qualifying and Qualifying sessions (including a two-hour night session), and on Friday the 20 fastest cars will compete in the Super Pole to determine the starting grid. All the others can also finish their preparation for the 24-hour race in the Warm Up on Friday evening.
Before the start of the race on Saturday afternoon (16.30 CEST), the interesting and varied support races of the Total 24 Hours of Spa will produce their fair share of the entertainment. With the unmistakable sound of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo, the high-level single-seater action of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, the door-to-door action of the Peugeot 308 Racing Cup and the entertaining racing of the Blancpain GT Sports Club, each and every of the nine (!) support races is sure to please the die-hard racing fans.
Source. SRO Motorspoers Group