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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Spa Pre-Race Notebook

Vincent Wouters’ Pre Race notebook from Spa…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***There were a number of pre-race meetings between the SRO and manufacturers related to the Mercedes-AMG incident, which saw all six of the Mercedes-AMG GT3s lose its times from Super Pole and moved to the rear of the Top 20 grid. The German manufacturer has not yet issued a statement.

***The final grid was released less than 90 minutes before the start of the race. It confirmed that the No. 28 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS is on pole, alongside the No. 16 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3. Click Here to view the grid.

***Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke voiced concerns over the performance of Mercedes prior to Super Pole: “Having fallen that far behind at the Nürburgring, we hoped everyone woke up on that case,” Reinke told Sportscar365. “If we see what kind of lap time characteristic the Mercedes seems to be here, we’re a bit surprised that people seem to be watching and not causing action on it.”

***It’s understood no BoP changes will be made pre-race. Stephane Ratel said during the SRO’s annual press conference on Friday — prior to Super Pole — that they don’t have a policy of changing BoP before a race, a statement likely made as a reference to the ACO’s post-qualifying BoP changes made at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***Garage 59 clarified that the stoppage of Shane Van Gisbergen’s No. 58 McLaren 650S GT3 on track during yesterday’s Super Pole was a precautionary measure. “Van Gisbergen had shown strong pace in the opening sector but an anomaly was noticed by the team in the garage and the decision was made to stop the car to ensure no damage or issues ahead of tomorrow’s race,” a statement read. The car has been fully checked and was out for warmup this morning.

***Frank Stippler posted the quickest time in this morning’s 10-minute warmup in the No. 6 Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS. The German’s 2:20.872 time was 0.054s faster than the No. 57 Black Falcon Mercedes that underwent an engine change on Thursday, while the No. 99 ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 completed the top-three.

***Stephane Ratel told Sportscar365 he has no plans to include rounds of the new Blancpain GT Series Asia Cup in Australia or New Zealand. “The idea is not to pay the high price on transport costs. It’s realistic and down to earth,” he said. “We have this great partnership with Australian [Supercars] on Bathurst and I have no ideas of buying or getting involved with Australian GT. I’m flying enough and it would be too far for me!”

***Maro Engel is sporting a new hair cut, after his Black Falcon co-driver Oliver Morley shaved his head on Friday, as part of a bet made after winning the Pro-Am class at Monza. “I shaved Oliver’s head and made a bit of a mess of it so that’s where he said, ‘Ok i’ll let you off the hook but if we win a Pro-Am race together then he gets to shave me,” Engel told Sportscar365.

***The No. 38 Antonelli Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3, No . 89 AKKA ASP Mercedes and No. 57 Black Falcon Mercedes all underwent engine changes in the build up to the race and will have to start from the pitlane.

***Click here to download the list of drivers taking the start.

***Spa is known for its changing conditions and this weekend will be no different. While the Saturday part of the race is expected to be dry, the closing hours of the race should see some rain arrive. There’s also a possibility of fog in the early hours on Sunday.

***The age difference between the oldest and youngest driver on the grid is almost 50 years. Howard Blank (RMS Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) is 67 years old, while Rik Breukers (Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3) only recently reached the age of 18. Breukers makes his first Blancpain GT Series start, alongside his full-season campaign in the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Europe series.

***Eurosport will carry six hours of live race coverage, both across Europe and on its international service. The English-language British and International service will be handled by Mark Cole and Tom Gaymor as part of the network’s continuing coverage of both Blancpain Endurance and Sprint series.

***NISMO.TV will have a globally unrestricted live stream of the race with commentary provided by the Radio Le Mans crew, led by John Hindhaugh, Martin Haven, Joe Bradley and Alex Brundle. Click here to access the stream.

***Be sure to download the official SRO Spotter Guide, which features all 65 starters for today’s race, including all the new liveries and lineups. Click here to download the latest version.

John Dagys contributed to this report

Vincent Wouters (@VinceWouters) is a Belgium-based sports car racing reporter, providing coverage primarily of the Blancpain GT Series.

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