With less than 10 days until the magical Total 24 Hours of Spa kicks off Diesel Driver contributor Martijn van Tussenbroek talks us through the important background information you need to know!
Most teams participating in this, the highlight of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series, have now finalised their line-ups. The regular top notch drivers of the Series are joined by former F1 drivers, Le Mans 24 hours winners and Australian V8 Supercar aces.
For the 90th anniversary edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa no less then 60 cars, representing 11 prestigious car manufacturers will take to the grid. And that number may yet increase with a couple of teams such as NovaRacing (Nissan) and Brussels Racing (Aston Martin) still working on their entries as we speak.
The battle for Victory in the biggest endurance race exclusively reserved for GT3-cars is expected to be fierce, the teams will battle for top honors in three different classes:
- Pro cup, in this class there will be only professional drivers and factory supported GT3 cars competing.
- The Pro-Am cup class is reserved for a mixture of Pro and Amateur drivers.
- Last but not least the Gentlemen’s Trophy where amateurs will battle for top spot.
Pro Cup: Extra cars to compete against the Series leaders
Last year’s winners, HTP Motorsport, add a third Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 to the two cars that finished 3rd and 4th in the recent three-hour race at Le Castellet. The third car will be driven by Maximilian Buhk, who shared last year’s winning car with Bernd Schneider and teams up with Harold Primat and Nico Verdonck on the #84 car.
The home squad in the Pro Cup Belgian Audi Club Team WRT enter a third car in the category as well. The #2 Audi R8 LMS ultra will have the illustrious trio of Lotterer-Fässler-Tréluyer at the wheel. This Audi trio won the Le Mans 24 hours three times, at the wheel of the German manufacturer’s ~LMP1 prototypes. Obviously the Le-Mans winning trio are aiming to join the very select group of drivers that have won the French and Belgian endurance classics in the same year. Only Luigi Chinetti accomplished this in 1949 and Romain Dumas in 2010.
Series regulars ART Grand Prix are currently leading the Pro Cup team standings with there beautiful Mc Laren MP4-12C and M-Sport Bentley, winners of the last two races of this season, want to continue their streak of podium finishes, especially since the points tally of the Total 24 Hours of Spa is twice that of a regular Blancpain Endurance Race.
The reigning team champions in the Blancpain Endurance Series Pro Cup, the Belgian BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS, will not have to worry about scoring points, since the Total 24 Hours of Spa is the only round of the Series they will enter this year. The Belgian squad will try to erase the memories of a disappointing 24 hours of the Nürburgring and can count on the services of five factory drivers from BMW Motorsport whom compete in DTM and TUSCC.
Pro-Am Cup: Half the field
The fight for the win in the Pro-Am Cup could become the most fearsome on the Circuit de Francorchamps. 31 cars are entered in this category, where professionals, young rising stars and gifted gentleman drivers combine their talents and aim for glory. Some of them are not only chasing top spot in the Pro-Am category, but might be among the overall frontrunners as well. Le Castellet Pro-Am winners Nick Catsburg and Henry Hassid showed their overall speed finishing only a handful of seconds off the overall podium.
The most striking entry in the Pro-Am Cup is the impressive AF Corse delegation with the Italian squad enters no less than four Ferrari 458s. The Prancing Horse is the best represented manufacturer in the category by far with 13 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 cars in Pro-Am, but other brands get a serious boost as well. The legendary British marque Aston Martin will be present with 3 Aston Martin Racing supported Vantage GT3s. The English squad of MP Motorsport will be joined by two other cars entered by British GT team Beechdean and Leonard Motorsport. One of the drivers on the latter will be Portuguese former Grand Prix-driver Pedro Lamy.
The sole Lamborghini of the Total 24 Hours of Spa is entered by the Australian Pro-Am squad Lago Racing. The All-Australian quartet consists of Roger Lago, David Russell, Steven Richards and Steven Owen.
On each of the first three rounds of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series the drivers standing on the top step of the Gentlemen Trophy podium were driving the #458 GT Corse by Rinaldi Ferrari 458. Alexander Matschull and Frank Schmickler, twice joined by Pierre Ehret, are of course aiming to make it four in a row in Spa, but the competition will be stronger than ever.
Three new teams have extended the traditional Audi vs. Ferrari battle in the Gentlemen’s Trophy to a five-way fight; GDL Motorsport (Mercedes SLS AMG GT3), Delahaye Racing (Porsche 997 GT3R) and PGF-Kinfaun (Aston Martin Vantage GT3) all add some spice and variety to this category. The Vantage GT3 has John Gaw behind the wheel, team principal of Aston Martin Racing.
To recap, before the Total 24Hours of Spa kicks off, who is in the lead so far:
ART Grand Prix Mc Laren 61 points
M-Sport Bentley 60 points
Sainteloc Racing 42 points
Nissan GT Academy 50 points
Scuderia Villorba Corse 46 points
ROAL Motorsport 41 points
GT Corse by Rinaldi 75 points
AFCorse 51 points
Team Parker Racing 27 points
Let’s see who is on top after the grueling Total 24H of Spa is finished on 27 of July.
You can find the entire entry list at the following link: