***David Pittard held off Arthur Rougier to win round three of the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series at Spa, earning three points for Walkenhorst Motorsport in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS overall teams’ standings. Pittard’s BMW M6 GT3 beat Rougier’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo by less than a second, while Porsche’s Matt Campbell was third in the race held within the Spa paddock. Results
***Campbell’s extra point for third moved GPX Martini Racing ahead of Sainteloc Racing for sixth in the GTWC Europe teams’ championship.
***Fabrizio Crestani earned Rinaldi Racing’s second consecutive Silver Cup esports class win and also finished fourth overall. Ezequiel Companc of Madpanda Motorsport donned a massive Panda head on the Silver podium after taking second.
***Gottfried Grasser told Sportscar365 that his crew is facing its “first 24-hour race” of the weekend tonight as it works to repair its No. 16 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo after Tim Zimmermann’s heavy accident in Thursday qualifying. GRT was up until 3 a.m. on Friday morning, and spent all of Friday fixing the car. It sustained heavy right-side damage but the chassis has not been replaced. Zimmermann walked away but was visibly aching after the high-speed shunt.
***Team WRT is also sticking with the same chassis for its No. 31 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo after Ryuichiro Tomita crashed at Raidillon in the same qualifying session. The car collided with the tire barriers rear-first, while Tomita managed to drive it back to the pits. There was some “structural damage” according to the team, but no chassis concerns.
***A GPS-based track limits recognition system is being tried out by several teams. It’s understood that a full rollout could come later in the GTWC Europe season. The sporting regulations state that “no data from the system will be used to sanction teams until it has been approved and installed in all cars.” Vehicles with the technology, including all Porsches, can be identified by an orange box on the roof.
***WRT sporting director Kurt Mollekens said that track limits have been “much stricter than they have ever been” at Spa due to a tightening of the definition. Each car’s inside wheels must stay within the outer white line at every corner exit. In the past, the outside curb was counted as part of the track at Turn 9, Blanchimont and the second part of Bus Stop. “It has taken the drivers a long time to adapt,” said Mollekens. “There will be many infractions during the race.”
***Audi holds the unique chance of winning the Spa with all four versions of its R8 LMS GT3 car, with this weekend’s race marking the final opportunity for its current R8 LMS GT3 Evo, which will be replaced by the recently confirmed Evo II next year.
***The German manufacturer’s first Spa win came 10 years ago with a first-gen R8 LMS run by Team WRT, followed by Phoenix’s victory with the R8 LMS ultra in 2012 and Sainteloc’s triumph in 2017 with the R8 LMS GT3. Audi also won in 2014 with WRT.
***The factory-backed No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo has a new livery for Spa. In a departure from its familiar blue and silver scheme, the French outfit’s full-season Endurance Cup entry now has a red and black design.
***SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel explained that the annual Spa press conference was canceled due to the “ongoing uncertainties” over next year’s calendars, particularly in Asia and Australia. Ratel told Sportscar365 to expect 2022 schedule announcements during the next GTWC Europe Endurance Cup round at the Nürburgring on Sept. 3-5.
“We could have very well presented the Europe and America [calendars] but we really want to present SRO as a global company with an impressive global calendar,” said Ratel. “We want to present it all at the same time.”
***Ratel described this weekend’s spectator situation as “a bit of a crisis” after multiple changes to the protocol in recent weeks, which has ended up with two spectator bubbles of 5,000 people and no required COVID-19 testing. A meeting on Thursday with local authorities clarified that the public did not need to get tested, unlike the competitors’ paddock bubble, which is being tested every 48 hours (antigen) or 72 hours (PCR).
***Head of Lamborghini Motorsport Giorgio Sanna doesn’t expect any additional Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli team involvement beyond Orange1 FFF Racing Team for the full season, plus K-PAX Racing at the Indianapolis 8 Hour. This is due to the “COVID situation” which has made it “not easy to engage teams and drivers” for overseas events due to logistical reasons.
***Sanna said Lamborghini’s new-for-2022 Huracan Super Trofeo Evo2 will be eligible in SRO GT2 competition alongside the current Super Trofeo Evo that was introduced into the class this year.
“Yes it’s possible if the teams would be interested to use the upgraded car. Why not?” he told Sportscar365. “In GT2, there’s BoP so it will be possible to make the BoP also on the Evo2. We agreed with Stephane [Ratel] that the Super Trofeo [Europe] series and the GT2 championship are not in clash in terms of schedule, so we are more than happy to support all of our customer teams to enjoy also other race programs.”
***Ratel has responded to Roger Penske’s comments of the Indianapolis 8 Hour not being a “proper race with different classes”. Penske, who is pushing for an IMSA round at the track, took over ownership of Indianapolis Motor Speedway in late 2019 after SRO’s multi-year contract with the speedway for the IGTC/SRO America event was signed.
“I’ve read the interview of Mr. Penske who said he favors multi-class [sports car racing],” Ratel said. “Fine but I hope that if our customers are happy to go and we have a good grid and a good show, and Intercontinental goes to back to full strength… If we go back to eight or nine manufacturers entered, bringing top drivers and teams, why would they show us the door? I don’t think one is against the other.”
***SRO has been monitoring the recent political unrest in South Africa, which could impact this year’s planned Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season finale at Kyalami that is currently scheduled for December. Ratel said hosting the event “might become more difficult” should there be a new “eruption of violence and rebellion” in the autumn but said there has been increased interest in the race compared to last year when 12 cars entered.
***The Heart of Racing team principal Ian James is on-site at Spa and has visited the Garage 59 team with which one of his IMSA drivers, Ross Gunn, is contesting the 24 Hours.
***This weekend is not the first 24H Spa edition for Porsche team Schnabl Engineering: the German squad supported Herberth Motorsport’s entry into the 2017 edition of the race.
***United Autosports co-owners Zak Brown and Richard Dean have not taken part in the supporting GT4 European Series round at Spa. It’s understood that Brown was advised not to travel to Belgium having only very recently completed his isolation period after contracting COVID-19.
***Cars racing in the 24 Hours of Spa, the GT4 European Series and TC France this weekend are sporting Belgian Red Cross stickers, encouraging people to donate to the organization’s relief efforts in areas affected by severe flooding in eastern Belgium.
***Broadcast information for the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa can be found here. The live feed is being shown on the event website and the GT World YouTube channel. The commentary team is led by David Addison, John Watson and Ryan Myrehn, while the overnight announcers are Bruce Jones, Charlie Butler-Henderson, and Ben Constanduros.
***Pirelli has brought more than 14,000 tires to Spa-Francorchamps for its biggest event of the year. In addition to being the exclusive tire provider of the 24 Hours of Spa, the Italian company is also supplying tires to the GT4 Europe and Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe series this weekend.
***While continuing with the P Zero DHE compound for GT3 machinery, teams utilized the updated Cinturato WHA rain tire for the first time during the Spa Test Days earlier this month.
“As we’ve seen from last year’s statistics, the speeds and the competitiveness of the field have never been higher, so we’re looking forward to another weekend of thrilling action at what’s always our most logistically challenging event of the year,” said Pirelli racing technical manager Matteo Braga.
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report