British-Korean driver Jack Aitken gets ready this week for the biggest motorsport adventure of his season so far: the legendary Spa 24 Hours.
One of the jewels in the crown of endurance racing, the Spa 24 Hours is also one of the hardest races in the world due to the unique nature of the track and the conditions, as well as the massively high standards of competition. Factory drivers and teams from all over the world are represented, including several former Le Mans winners, and there’s a massive grid of 58 entries this year.
Jack and his team mates are rookies to the Spa 24 Hours this year, racing for the Emil Frey Lamborghini team. But having got off to a great start in the GT World Challenge season, that’s not going to stop them from giving it their best shot. And – during a gruelling day and night odyssey where literally anything can happen – perhaps even pulling off a surprise.
The complexity of the strategy and the conditions means that the 24-hour race has to be taken step by step, while keeping a close eye on the overall big picture. But while Jack’s experience of racing around the clock is limited to a karting enduro five years ago, he’s got plenty of experience of Spa and had a successful test there in the Lamborghini last month, in preparation for the highlight of the season.
Jack will be sharing his number 114 Lamborghini Huracan with France’s Arthur Rougier and Finland’s Konsta Lappalainen. Endurance racing in general, and the Spa 24 Hours in particular, is all about teamwork, and all three drivers will share the duties equally during the day and the night, in all kinds of weather.
The seven-kilometre Spa-Francorchamps circuit, situated at the foothills of the Ardennes mountains and the home of the Belgian Grand Prix, is renowned for its fickle weather – which has been in the headlines recently with the devastating floods that have affected eastern Belgium and northern Germany. In particular, the extent of the track means that the weather is often variable in different sectors: one part of the circuit can be completely dry, while another part can be affected by torrential rain – with frequent patches of standing water also a hazard to catch out the unwary.
Add to that the challenge of driving at night, and the extent of the task becomes clear. But Jack is ready – and he prepared for Spa with a guest appearance in Formula 2 at the British Grand Prix recently with HWA Racelab for his home event.
Although he was affected by poor rear grip, a couple of slow pit stops and brake problems, he nearly got into the points from the back of the grid, keeping the fans entertained as he battled magnificently on every lap in front of a capacity crowd. That’s the same fighting spirit that he’s going to need at Spa this weekend.
JACK ON…GETTING READY FOR THE SPA 24 HOURS:
“It’s going to be the biggest adventure of the year so I’m really looking forward to it! I headed over to Spa a couple of days ago and we’ve got a full week of build-up to the race: so there’s a lot to get used to. It couldn’t be a bigger contrast to Silverstone, with a different car, different format of event, and different weather; but I enjoy adapting to new situations! I’ve just been continuing my usual training regime in the build-up to the race and making sure to get plenty of sleep in: that’s really important.”
JACK ON…HIS RACE WEEKEND AT SILVERSTONE:
“We obviously weren’t fighting at the front, but we always knew that this was going to be the case, so it didn’t stop me from enjoying the weekend. It was a lot of fun: we pushed hard on every single lap, wrung the absolute maximum out of the car, and overtook as many other cars as we could. It was just a weekend of attacking from start to finish. So a big thanks to HWA Racelab for all their hard work and professionalism.”
JACK ON…THE PLAN FOR SPA:
“We’re going to go through the plan when we get there, so that’s another reason for being there early: to have some team-building time and to make sure that we’re all on the same page. Obviously, I’d love to do the start – which is sure to be pretty hectic – but I think I’m going to face a bit of opposition for that! In the end, we’re all rookies here at the Spa 24 Hours, so I’m sure we’re going to work together to find the best way to approach the race as a team: that’s an aspect of endurance racing I really enjoy.”
JACK ON…HIS PREVIOUS 24-HOUR EXPERIENCE:
“I drove a virtual Le Mans 24 Hours last year – on my home sim rig – and then did a 24-hour karting event at Buckmore Park in the UK about five years ago, which we either won or finished second, and that’s about it. So I’m obviously ready for Spa now! Seriously, I think we just have to take it as it comes. We’ve shown some good potential in the car so far this season and we had a good test, so we’re ready to see what happens. Perhaps the balance of performance won’t be completely favourable to us this year, but it’s such a long race that it’s hard to make too many predictions.”
Source. Jack Aitken