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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Spa Thursday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Thursday notebook from Spa-Francorchamps, site of Total 24H Spa…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***Sixty-three cars are listed on the final entry list, released on Thursday morning ahead of Free Practice. It is down five cars from the initial list from Test Day, but no changes have been made since the addition of Tom Onslow-Cole and Lorenzo Bomtempelli on Tuesday.

***Several changes have also been made to the IGTC entry, including the addition of the No. 31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 to the list of eligible cars to score manufacturer points. The previous-gen Bentley, which is competing for Pro-Am Cup honors, joins the pair of 2018-spec factory M-Sport entries. 

***IGTC rules permit up to four nominated cars from each registered manufacturer, with the two highest-placed cars scoring points for each manufacturer. 

***Two-time and defending IGTC champion Audi currently holds a three-point lead over Mercedes-AMG in the manufacturers’ standings, with Porsche sitting third at 27 points. McLaren and Bentley bring up the rear, following struggles in the season-opening Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in February. 

***Both the No. 175 SunEnergy1 Team HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 and No. 42 Strakka Racing Mercedes are among the 19 cars on the IGTC entry list this weekend, although are only eligible to score Bronze driver points for Kenny Habul and Nick Leventis, respectively. 

***Habul leads the new-for-2018 Bronze Cup following his second place overall finish at Bathurst in a Scott Taylor Motorsport-run Mercedes.

***The No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R is carrying a tribute to Champion Motors founder Dave Maraj, who passed away last weekend following a boating-related accident. Maraj’s dealership has supported the American team’s globe-trotting efforts this year.

***Bentley Motorsport director Brian Gush has questioned the Balance of Performance change handed to the second-generation Bentley Continental GT3s, which are now 15 kg heavier and with a reduction in turbo boost. “It sounds like there is a lot of sandbagging going on and a lot of people complaining,” Gush told Sportscar365. “It will be unfortunate if non-technical information is listened to in forming the BoP.”

***Multimatic has increased its on-track presence in the Blancpain GT Series according to Jean Marchioni, who is leading the company’s efforts this weekend in support of its DSSV dampers, which are currently homologated on the Ferrari 488 GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3s.

***Marchioni indicated to Sportscar365 an ambition to secure a third GT3 manufacturer for next year.

***The No. 63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 is running different headlights this weekend. “The headlights are new, we will test them during night practice,” team owner Gottfried Grasser told Sportscar365. “They look special and are very bright. We’ll see how the feedback from the drivers will be.” The lights feature a different internal design and consist of several small LEDs.

***GT Sport Motul Team RJN’s No. 22 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 missed the parade on Wednesday following a power steering failure, which was fixed in time for today’s running. The Silver Cup entry is the previous-gen Nissan and is driven by Struan Moore, Ricardo Sanchez, Jordan Witt and Sean Walkinshaw.

***Pirelli has dealt with more than 20,000 tires this week, between the 24H Spa competitors, SRO Speedweek teams and the shipment of tires for the Suzuka 10 Hours, according to Circuit Technical Manager Matteo Braga.

***The 2018-spec Pirelli P Zero DHD2 compound, which was introduced in the Blancpain GT Series this season, will be used for the remainder of the IGTC season. Pirelli brought its older DHC compound to the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hours. 

***Franck Perera is happy with the new tire compound after Lamborghini and Grasser Racing Team struggled with repeated punctures in the 2017 DHD specification. “It’s a little bit less performance than last year but it’s better,” he told Sportscar365. “Everyone has less problems with punctures, so this is also good. It’s safer.”

***Times were considerably quicker during International GT Open’s visit to Spa last month, compared to last year’s pole for the 24H Spa. David Perel put in a 2:15.807 with the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 during one of the qualifying sessions, almost two seconds faster than James Calado’s 2:17.390 in Super Pole last year. The International GT Open has Michelin as its single tire supplier and makes use of the FIA BoP.

***A new naming structure for SRO’s championships is expected to be among the items announced during Friday’s annual press conference. Sportscar365 understands that the “World Challenge” moniker could be integrated into other SRO-run series, in the wake of its new majority ownership of Pirelli World Challenge in North America.

***It’s also understood that a new nine-hour enduro at Kyalami will be confirmed, bringing the IGTC calendar up to five rounds.

John Dagys and Vincent Wouters contributed to this report

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

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