Image credit: xynamic
Top British customer BMW Motorsport outfit, Triple Eight Racing, set off for one of the biggest challenges in the team’s history this week, as they head to Belgium for the Total 24 Hours of Spa event, the fourth round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, to do battle against the toughest competition in GT racing.
The 2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa will mark Triple Eight’s debut at the Belgian classic and the team is keen to write another chapter in its GT racing history. With points paid out a three intervals (6 hours, 12 hours and 24 hours), the focus for the Greatworth-based team is a strong points haul in Belgium to get them back in the championship hunt.
Despite this maiden appearance in the Total 24 Hours of Spa, the British team are no strangers to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, having tested and raced on the 4.35-mile Grand Prix circuit in the past month, completing several hours of running, picking up data and understanding of the complex track, which comprises high-speed corners, long straights and the famous ‘Eau Rouge’ corner.
During the British GT race a fortnight ago, Triple Eight failed to yield a result following a minor mechanical failure while running in second place. However, the all-British regular Blancpain team in the #888 BMW, which comprises of Joe Osborne (Silver), Ryan Ratcliffe (Silver), and Lee Mowle (Bronze), will benefit this weekend from the expert knowledge and insight of German BMW factory star, Dirk Muller.
“The 24 Hours of Spa is a great event. For me personally it follows directly after the 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and Le Mans. The track is awesome and the Eau Rouge is always a highlight.” said Muller. “Triple Eight is a big name in racing; the team has strong drivers and works in a very professional manner. I am really looking forward to tackle the race together with this squad.”
“Last year I came close to stepping on the Pro-Am podium, and this year anything less than that again will be a failure in my eyes, despite it being a different team, car and set of drivers.” added Joe Osborne. “Lee has completed several 24-hour races, Ryan has an ability to be consistent and then Dirk and I have to really drive a wedge into the upper order. It’s going to be a big fight in Pro-Am, but we’re ready.”
It’s been seventeen years since a BMW triumphed in the Spa 24 Hours, and that victory precedes the creation of the GT3 sportscar category. The event in 1998 was aimed predominantly at saloon-based Touring Cars, not the 500BHP+ GT3 supercars that will do battle this weekend.
Racing in the Pro-AM category, the second of the three classifications competing in the 2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa, Triple Eight will not want for competition. A massive 22 cars will be aiming for the three Pro-Am podium steps come the end of the race, but with just half of the field finishing last year, merely finishing the race will be a challenge in itself.
Track action at Spa-Francorchamps gets underway tomorrow (Tuesday 21st July) with three hours practice for Bronze drivers. Then on Thursday 23rd July there is over five hours of track time, including practice, qualifying and the adrenaline-fueled night qualifying session.