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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Spa Wednesday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Wednesday notebook from the Total 24 Hours of Spa…

Photo: Olivier Beroud Images

***The field for this weekend’s Total 24 Hours of Spa assembled on the Formula 1 start-finish straight this afternoon for a group photograph. It included one car from each of the race’s 13 manufacturers and all 221 drivers.

***A total of 63 cars are expected to take part in the race, down from the initially-announced grid size of 68. The final entry list is expected to be released ahead of Free Practice 1 on Thursday morning.

***Several entry list changes have been made in recent days, including the withdrawal of the two Muehlner Motorsport Porsche 991 Cups from the Group National field. Tom Onslow-Cole has replaced Adam Christodoulou at Black Falcon while Lorenzo Bontempelli is in for Rino Mastronardi in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3.

***As usual, there has been no on-track action for Blancpain GT Series competitors today with the parade to Spa town center taking place instead. The event has been moved later in the day to a 6 p.m. start ahead of an autograph session at 7 p.m.

***The parade brought problems for the No. 35 SMP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 when its battery caught fire. No major damage was made and the AKKA ASP-run car is expected to run in tomorrow’s sessions.

***Sergio Marchionne, the chairman and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, including sister brand Ferrari, died on Wednesday at the age of 66. Marchionne had been replaced as CEO of the companies last weekend amid complications from shoulder surgery, which had reportedly placed the Italian into coma.

***A total of six Ferrari 488 GT3s are set to take part this weekend, including entries from AF Corse, Rinaldi Racing and SMP Racing.

***Montaplast by Land Motorsport, which makes its Blancpain GT Series debut, is utilizing ‘Linda Lou’, the German squad’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 chassis typically used in VLN races. All of team’s Audi chassis carry women’s names, including its IMSA-based Audi, which is named ‘Peggy Sue’.

***Peter Baron, who is fresh off overall victory in the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX round at Portland International Raceway with TruSpeed Autosport, is assisting Land this weekend on race strategy.

***Aston Martin is set to begin development tests for its new Vantage GT3 car in August and for its GT4 variant in September. The GT3 model could make its race debut at the Gulf 12 Hours in December ahead of a full program in 2019.

***A delegation of executives and series officials from Pirelli World Challenge, including President/CEO Greg Gill, VP competition Marcus Haselgrove, director of marketing and communications Jim Jordan and series business manager Staci Langham, is on-site this weekend.

***SRO, which recently acquired majority ownership of PWC, is expected to unveil the 2019 schedules on Friday during Stephane Ratel’s annual press conference. Wholesale changes to the series’ format were confirmed earlier this month.

***Track limits proved to be a controversial issue in the SRO Speedweek races last weekend. GT4 European Series Free Practice 2 was red-flagged after repeated infringement at Raidillon and a message of “Let’s try again” was displayed on the timing screen. The majority of teams served drive-through and stop-and-hold penalties for repeated abuse.

***Track limits notifications during this weekend’s race will be reset every six hours, at the six, 12 and 18-hour marks.

***The minimum pit stop time, which applies for most stops with refuelling, has been set at 110 seconds. Stops without refuelling don’t have minimum times while a new system this year allows each car one untimed refuelling ‘joker’ stop in each six-hour segment of the race.

***Four drivers listed don’t currently have FIA driver ratings but have been given provisional classification this weekend. Christian Vietoris will race as a Platinum while Pierre-Yves Paque, Bob Wilwert and Gilles Petit are all entered as Bronze.

***Sainteloc Racing’s Am Cup entry will face a five-place grid penalty with Christian Kelders having amassed three Behavior Warning Points.

***Boutsen Ginion could return to Blancpain GT next year with Karim Ojjeh in a BMW M6 GT3 and Claude-Yves Gosselin and Pierre Feligioni in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo. The team ran a Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX in the Sprint Cup round at Zolder in April but has focused its GT3 efforts on the Blancpain GT Sports Club this season.

***Pirelli has released the P Zero Sound, a Bluetooth speaker within a replica Formula 1 wind tunnel tire. The system is made in Italy by IXOOST and is available in nine different colors that reflect those used in different F1 tire compounds.

***Sixteen Belgian drivers are entered for their home race including Maxime Martin, the most recent Belgian winner. He won with ROWE Racing two years ago and drives the No. 62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in this year’s race.

***On-track action will get underway with Free Practice 1 at 11:45 a.m. local time tomorrow while Pre-Qualifying, Qualifying and Night Practice will also take place over the course of the day.

Laurent Mercier, 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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