The TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa got underway with a good first practice for Mercedes-AMG. In the 90-minute session, the teams with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 were able to run through their programme as planned in preparation for the season highlight. Four cars from Affalterbach ended up in the top ten. In the upcoming days, a total of 13 Mercedes-AMG GT3s will be competing for victory in the overall classification as well as for success in the classes. As a result, Mercedes-AMG has the largest car contingent of all the manufacturers. Next to the on-track activities, the performance and sports car brand is also attracting attention with a vehicle display at the occasion of the race: on display are the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG that won its class and finished second overall 50 years ago as well as a car representing the special edition “50 Years Legend of Spa” consisting of three GT3 cars.
On-track action for the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race has started. Free practice, held in finest weather conditions early on Thursday afternoon, was all about running in and determining the set-up. Jules Gounon (FRA), Daniel Juncadella (ESP) and Raffaele Marciello (ITA) posted the best lap time of the cars from Affalterbach. Their fastest time at the seven kilometres long circuit in the Ardennes was 2m 19.402s. It resulted into third place overall for the #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP entry. Other teams who managed to end up in the top ten were the Customer Racing Cars #7 from Toksport WRT in sixth, #57 from Winward Racing in eighth and #69 from Ram Racing in ninth place.
For the Mercedes-AMG drivers in the field of the 58 GT3 cars, all with high-quality line-ups, the day’s schedule is packed. Pre-qualifying (3.45pm) and the four-part qualifying (from 8.50pm) can be expected to provide a first indication. Here, it is about qualifying for the Super Pole session on Friday (8.30pm). The shoot-out will determine the starting order of the first 20 cars for the race, starting on Saturday at 4.30pm. Also today, Thursday, there is a night practice session (10.30pm), giving the teams the opportunity to adapt themselves to driving in the dark. There is one driver change in the #50 Team HubAuto Mercedes-AMG GT3: Nicky Catsburg (NED) is replacing Yelmer Buurman (NED), who had to pull out due to illness.
Vehicle display „50 Years Legend of Spa“
This year’s 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps mars the 50-year anniversary of the first sporting milestone in history of AMG. The class win and second place overall for the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG in 1971 laid the foundation for the legend of the motorsport brand. As a reminiscence of the sensational success at the time, Mercedes-AMG is present at this year’s race with a vehicle display. Next to the red luxury saloon car, sporting the original livery of the race car from 1971, a Mercedes-AMG GT3 from the special limited edition “50 Years Legend of Spa” is also on display. The special edition consists of three exclusive one-off GT3s: a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, its successor Mercedes-AMG GT3 (model year 2016) and the current evolution level of the Mercedes-AMG GT3. All three cars stand out with unique special features and a striking new interpretation of the iconic livery of the 300 SEL 6.8 AMG.
Raffaele Marciello, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP #88: “For us, free practice went very well. We took particular care of respecting the track limits that are very strict here. The car is working very well already and I am optimistic for pre-qualifying. However, we still have a long weekend ahead of us, so we have to continue to work properly.”
Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team HRT #4: “First free practice wasn’t easy for us. Track conditions have changed considerably compared to the test and we first had to adapt to that. Still, we managed to complete our laps and all drivers made it through first free practice without any problems. Now, we try to further improve the balance for qualifying this evening.”
Maximilian Götz, HubAuto #50: “We are happy that we are flying the flag for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport’s history with our Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the red anniversary livery for the race at Spa. Unfortunately, we weren’t there during the test, so it is difficult for us to keep up with the pace at the front. We in the team are doing our utmost to ensure that we will be prepared for qualifying in the best possible way.”
Nico Bastian, GetSpeed Performance #2: “Now, the important thing is to get the weekend off to a good start first of all and not to take too many risks. There still isn’t much to win yet, but there is all the more to lose. We want to get into the event into a good way, find the rhythm and sort out some little things.”