Image credit: Martijn van Tussenbroek
The 67th running of the Total 24 Hours of Spa promises to be one of the highlights of the international motorsports season. With over a dozen candidates vying for the win, representing a plethora of prestigious manufacturers, the spectacle during the Ardennes endurance classic will be of the highest level.
Do not, think that the Pro Cup has the exclusive rights on overall podium candidates within its ranks. Some of the Pro-Am Cup line-ups are mighty impressive as well. The #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari must certainly be a candidate for the Pro-Am Cup class win, but also for a good result overall. With Rinat Salikhov and Norbert Siedler at the wheel, the car became the first Pro-Am Cup car to ever win a Blancpain Endurance Series race overall, claiming the win in the 2015 opening round in Monza. After having spent two races in the Pro Cup, the mean green machine is now back in Pro-Am with Marco Seefried and Belgian Stef Vancampenhoudt joining Salikhov and Siedler.
Another Belgian having set his eyes on – at least – a top-5 finish overall, is Stéphane Lémeret. Lémeret – twice runner-up in Spa – has Thai youngster Pasin Lathouras as one of his team-mates, but also Ferrari aces Alessandro Pier Guidi and Gimmi Bruni. Do not be surprised to see the #47 AF Corse Ferrari on the front row on Saturday afternoon, because that is exactly what Pier Guidi accomplished during the two most recent editions of the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
With nine Ferrari 458 Italia in the Pro-Am Cup entry list, one might be tempted to only consider the Prancing Horses as a candidate for the class win, especially since three of them have a Platinum driver in their line-up. But that would be a mistake. Last year’s class winner Louis Machiels has switched to the Bentley Team HTP and the team’s experience (overall winner in 2013) will certainly help the Belgian to aim for another choice result.
And then there are the teams who have managed to get a Platinum driver on their rosters: together with full-season entrants Maro Engel (Black Falcon Mercedes SLS) and Marko Asmer (GT Russian Team Mercedes SLS), Mathias Beche (TDS Racing BMW Z4), Olivier Pla (Nissan GT Academy Team RJN), Stefan Mücke (Leonard Motorsport Aston Martin), Dirk Müller (Triple Eight Racing BMW Z4) and Christophe Bouchut (GT Russian Team Mercedes SLS) will not only try to get their cars high up the starting grid, but will also push hard to keep it among the frontrunners all through the race.