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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Bird Expecting Challenging 24H Spa as GT3 “Newbie”

Sam Bird admits he feels like a GT3 “newbie” heading into 24H Spa in all-star works lineup…

Photo: MPS Agency

Sam Bird is expecting a challenging Total 24 Hours of Spa despite being part of an all-star factory Ferrari lineup, owing to his relative inexperience with GT3 machinery.

The Brit will share a last-minute one-off entry with reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE-Pro winners James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi.

While it’s arguably one of the most experienced lineups on the grid, Bird doesn’t expect an easy race on account of his unfamiliarity with GT3 cars, the championship and Pirelli tire.

“This race was sprung on me quite last minute,” he told Sportscar365. “Obviously, Ferrari had an amazing Le Mans, where they [had] victory in GTE-Pro.

“The bosses got together and decided it would be quite fun to have an attempt at the Spa 24 as well. They put together a good Pro team with myself, Ale and James. We’ll see what we can do.

“I’m obviously a rookie, a newbie, to GT3 and the Pirelli tire. No testing, going straight into today with no experience at all. It’s going to be difficult but I’ll give it my best shot.”

Bird’s last GT3 start came in the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, when he finished fifth in class with a Scuderia Corsa car.

Since then, he’s been primarily focusing on his WEC GTE-Pro program with AF Corse and his ABB FIA Formula E Championship drive with Envision Virgin Racing.

Calado and Pier Guidi have had more GT3 experience in recent years, including Calado winning the 2018-19 Asian Le Mans Series GT title with CarGuy Racing.

Pier Guidi also competed in that championship over the winter months, while he also made a number of other starts last year in International GT Open and Blancpain GT Series, amongst other championships.

“The other two guys are a bit more experienced on it,” Bird explained. “This race is about not making any mistakes and not getting into any trouble.

“We’re all excited to get going. As I said, it’s going to be really tricky. There’s some great manufacturers out there with some great driver lineups.

“I’d say our driver lineup is extremely strong and up there in terms of strength and depth but we’re all a little bit rusty when it comes to GT3.

“You’ve got other driver lineups that, this is what they do, this is their bread and butter. It will still be very tough.

“The weather looks like it could be a bit iffy on Saturday and Sunday. Outright pace might be challenging, however, but the race is long.

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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