With the Total 24 Hours of Spa just a few days away, now is the ideal time to brush up on a few key facts and figures concerning the big race. We’ve compiled the ideal number – 24, of course – to whet your appetite for this year’s autumn running of the Belgian endurance classic.
1 – This will be the first edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa to be staged during the autumn months. In fact, the 24 Hours had never previously been staged later than August 5/6. This happened in 2000, the final year before GT rules were introduced. With next year’s race already confirmed for 29 July–1 August, the 2020 edition will be a true one-of-a-kind.
2 – Two crews will feature members of the same family: twin brothers Robert and Alfred Renauer will share a Herberth Motorsport Porsche for the third time in four years, while father-son duo Rob and Ricky Collard will compete together for the first time, driving the #77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini.
3 – At 03.00 on Sunday morning, Spa’s clocks will roll back by one hour to mark the end of Central European Summer Time. As such, the race will begin at 15.30 on Saturday afternoon and end at 14.30 on Sunday.
4 – Two of this year’s entrants have taken four overall podiums at Spa without yet tasting victory. Chris Mies will have the best shot at changing as part of the #31 Audi Sport Team WRT crew. Fellow podium regular Stéphane Lémeret will challenge for Am Cup honours in the #108 CMR Bentley and has previously won the Pro-Am class.
5 – The winning margin at Spa’s first two GT editions, 2001 and 2002, was five laps. Last year, the victorious GPX Racing Porsche triumphed with a gap of 3.347s over its closest rival. The last time that only one car finished on the lead lap was 2015.
6 – Ferrari machinery has taken six Pro-Am victories in the past nine years, including five in a row between 2011 and 2015. The Italian marque is represented by three cars in the class this year, two of which are past winners.
7 – At a shade over seven kilometres, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is the longest track on either the GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS or Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli calendars. At a typical summer edition, the fastest drivers will lap in the low 2m18s.
8 – Eight brands led overall during last year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa. Four different Porsche runners hit the front, while Mercedes-AMG, Lamborghini and Audi all had two cars at the head of the field at some stage during the race.
9 – From the previous nine editions of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is the only squad to scored more than one victory, taking overall honours in 2011 and 2014.
10 – This year’s race represents the 10th since GT3 became the top class at Spa and will see two drivers complete the full set. Appropriately, both are successful Belgian: Maxime Martin was overall winner in 2016, while Louis Machiels took Pro-Am honours in 2012 and 2014.
11 – Porsche is the best represented brand overall this year with a total of 11 cars set to contest the race. It also has the most overall challengers, with eight 911 GT3-R entries chasing victory.
12 – There are 12 Belgian drivers set to contest their home race. They range from teenager Charles Weerts to the vastly experienced Stéphane Lémeret, who first contested the 24 Hours in 1996. France is the best-represented nation with 29 drivers, followed by Britain (27) and Germany (26).
13 – Tyre supplier Pirelli aims to produce around 13,000 units for the Total 24 Hours of Spa. The final number varies, depending on factors such as the entry list and expected weather conditions in the Ardennes, with the final shipment made as late as possible.
14 – A total of 14 past winners feature on this year’s entry list, four of whom have triumphed twice: Andrea Bertolini (2006 & 2008), Romain Dumas (2003 & 2010), Philipp Eng (2016 and 2018), and Markus Winkelhock (2014 & 2017).
15 – This year marks the 15th anniversary of Pirelli’s first overall victory at the Total 24 Hours of Spa. The Italian brand supplied tyres for the iconic Maserati MC12, which secured back-to-back wins in 2005 and 2006 with Pirelli rubber.
16 – The #16 Audi clinched the 2012 race from 29th on the grid, the lowest starting spot for a winner during the GT era. One of its drivers, Frank Stippler, will compete in this year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa for the same brand.
17 – A mere 17 thousandths of a second was all that separated last year’s Super Pole winner Maro Engel (Mercedes-AMG) from second-placed Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche). This matched the existing record for the GT3 era, which was first set in 2015.
18 – Romain Dumas made his Total 24 Hours of Spa debut 18 years ago, finishing third at the 2002 edition in a Porsche 911 GT3-RS. This year, he’ll drive the same model’s latest incarnation for GPX Racing.
19 – A total of 19 brands have won the race since it was first staged in 1924, while eight have been victorious since GT rules were introduced in 2001. There have been four winners during the GT3 era: Audi, BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche.
20 – This will be the 20th race staged since GT rules were introduced. During this period, 10,097 racing laps of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps have been completed, as well as countless more in practice and qualifying conditions.
21 – Last year, the gap between 20th and 21st in qualifying was just 0.006s. This was the difference between the eventual winner, GPX Racing, competing in Super Pole with its #20 Porsche and taking the start from P21.
22 – In 2019, Oman Racing by TF Sport finished 22nd overall and won the Pro-Am class with a near-perfect score. As well as its victory, the Aston Martin squad claimed the bonus points for leading at six and 12 hours, only missing out on a single point for pole position
23 – The venue’s original 15km circuit was created in 1920, formed by a triangle that used routes 23, 32 and 440 to connect Spa-Francorchamps to Malmédy and Stavelot. Just four years later, the 24 Hours was staged for the first time.
24 – This year’s race will start on 24 October, by far the latest in its history. As ever, it will be available to watch worldwide and free of charge on the GT World Challenge Europe website and Facebook page, as well as on the GTWorld YouTube channel.
Thursday begins with free practice at 11.10 CEST. Pre-qualifying comes next at 15.15 and will signal the start of free-to-view live streaming, which continues until Sunday’s chequered flag.
Qualifying gets underway at 18.55 on Thursday evening and will establish the 20 Super Pole contenders while also setting grid positions 21 through 56. Then, at 20.35, competitors will undertake 90 minutes of night practice in preparation for the race.
Friday’s focus is Super Pole, with live coverage beginning at 18.20. That just leaves the race, which gets underway at 15.30 on Saturday afternoon. It will conclude the following day at 14.30 CET, with the end of Central European Summer Time meaning that clocks will move back by one hour at 03.00 on Sunday morning.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group