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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Spa Pre-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s pre-race notebook ahead of the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***Rain is forecasted for most of the race, with a 76 percent chance of rain at the start. Ambient temperatures are expected to remain around 17-21 degrees Celsius (62-69 degrees Fahrenheit), a markable change compared to Wednesday and Thursday’s record heat.

***No Balance of Performance changes have been made between qualifying and the race, with the last changes coming on July 21 ahead of the weekend. This is believed to be, in part, because of the different weather conditions between the first sessions and the race, which would make BoP changes less relevant.

***Audi’s Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli-nominated entries have been given nicknames this weekend. The No. 1 and No. 2 WRT cars are named Maria and Pepa, while Sainteloc’s car is called Lotte and Land’s entry is named Josephine. It follows on from Land’s tradition of naming its chassis.

***Track limit warnings will be reset every six hours. A drive-through penalty, the most likely penalty for repeated track limits violations, will cost at least 71.6 seconds. Drivers are permitted to run on the curbs at Raidillon without risking a penalty.

***Stephane Ratel presented Bentley’s long-time motorsport boss Brian Gush, who retires on Tuesday, with a lifetime pass to the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Only three have previously been presented.

***The four Porsche 935s involved in this weekend’s pair of Porsche GT2 Supersportscar support races are the only four examples of the car currently in existence. Three competed, while one served as the pace car. Egidio Perfetti won both races.

***The third GT2 manufacturer, which Ratel revealed would launch its car at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in September, is not Lamborghini, according to its head of motorsport Giorgio Sanna, who has expressed continue interest in the platform to Sportscar365.

***Bentley Team M-Sport has four pit crews on site for its expanded four-car entry, but will only use two at a time, working in shifts. This means that, at any one time, each pit crew will have two cars. “With the crews that we have, we are confident that we will be OK,” Andy Soucek told Sportscar365. “The only question mark is if we have to pit all four cars at the same time.”

***Bas Leinders is working as team manager on the Nos. 109 and 110 Bentleys. The Belgian works with several other teams this year, including Optimum Motorsport and PROsport Performance, amongst others. Tom Hodgson is team manager for the Nos. 107 and 108 Continental GT3s, meanwhile.

***K-PAX Racing’s Thomas Blam is calling strategy on the Nos. 109 and 110 cars, while Sebastien Constans is working as the No. 109 car’s engineer. It means that Rodrigo Baptista, who’s sharing with Seb Morris and Callum Macleod this weekend, has the same strategist and engineer (Blam and Constans) as he works with in the Blancpain GT World Challenge America.

***Sainteloc Racing’s Pro-Am car has had an engine change ahead of the race, and will start from the pit lane as a result. The team changed the wiring loom on its factory car’s engine on Thursday evening. The Oman Racing Team by TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and No. 90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 will both also start from the pits for the same reason.

***Boutsen Ginion’s BMW M6 GT3 and the No. 17 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT car will start from the back of the grid as they were unable to take part in qualifying.

***KCMG team principal Paul Ip withdrew from last weekend’s Super Taikyu round at Autopolis, suffering a heavy fever. He was set to drive a Honda Civic Type R TCR FK8 with Matt Howson and Jim Ka To. Ip is on-site at Spa this weekend, looking after his team’s pair of Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s.

***Eight drivers in the field drove in this weekend’s FFSA GT4 France races: Sylvain Debs, Jean Paul Buffin, Gilles Vannelet, Steven Palette, Simon Gachet, Michael Blanchemain, Fabien Barthez and Stephane Lemeret.

***Two drivers – Philippe Haezebrouck and Marc Duez – have the claim of previously driving on the old Spa layout, which was abandoned in 1978. 

***The Total 24 Hours of Spa gets underway at 4:30 p.m. local time (10:30 a.m. EDT). The whole race will be streamed live, free to watch, on the series’ website and GT World YouTube channel without any geographical restrictions.

***The commentary team is made up of David Addison, John Watson and Bob Varsha for the daytime shifts, with Charlie Butler-Henderson and Martin Haven overnight. Dakota Jane will serve as daytime pit lane reporter, with Ryan Myrehn taking over for the night shift. 

John Dagys, Daniel Lloyd and Laurent Mercier contributed to this report

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

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