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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Rest of GPX’s Season “Depends a Lot” on Spa Outcome

GPX undecided on IGTC plans for rest of year; Indy and Yas Marina likely depend on Spa outcome…

Photo: Jules Benichou/21 Creation

The rest of GPX Racing’s Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli campaign “depends a lot” on the outcome of this weekend’s TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.

Team principal Pierre-Brice Mena said that the Martini-backed outfit, which receives technical support from ART Grand Prix, is yet to firm up whether it will contest the final two rounds.

GPX initially committed to the full IGTC season but elected to forgo the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour when the rules were changed to require a Bronze driver in each crew.

Its first race of the year is Spa, where it is running the No. 221 Porsche 911 GT3 R with its 2019-winning lineup of Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen and Richard Lietz.

The next IGTC round is the Indianapolis 8 Hour in October, followed by the recently announced Gulf 12 Hours.

Porsche has been named as a full-season IGTC entrant, however that was also the case last year until it backed down from the global competition after Spa.

Asked about the team’s plans for the rest of the year, Mena said: “At the moment I don’t know.

“I think it’s also related a lot to the result of Spa. We want to go [to Indianapolis] if Porsche is supporting and can still win something; if we can help Porsche to win something.

“If nobody in the IGTC Porsches scores points here and they want to back up a little bit, then it will be to reconsider for this race. So at the moment, we don’t know.

“It depends a lot on what happens this weekend.”

Mena said that a key change to the Indianapolis 8 Hour sporting regulations has not dampened GPX Martini Racing’s interest in the North American leg of the IGTC.

Sportscar365 reported last month that a Silver-rated driver will be required for each lineup in the top category, to comply with a rule that was introduced to Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS after this year’s season-opener.

GPX has typically identified as an all-professional racing team, with its only exceptions to that being when it won the 2021 Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai and the 2020 Coppa Florio with Bronze drivers involved.

“GPX Racing is about competing at the highest level of GT racing to promote our other activities, but it’s OK to also have a Silver driver because now you have a lot of young guns that are ‘Pro-to-be’ and who I would be super happy to have,” said Mena.

“I know Porsche have several in their program, like Jaxon Evans. They are already big names.

“It’s not like putting an Am, which for me changes a lot on the sporting side. Because then it depends on the Am. With a Silver there is less difference in level [with Pros].

“If you figure out how to have the right Am, you can be pretty sure you will end up at the top. I don’t like this too much, but with the Silver it’s fine.”

GPX is also interested in the Gulf 12 Hours as Yas Marina, which is not far from the team’s parent company headquarters in Dubai.

“Our business model is a bit tricky because we’re racing in Pro and we need support from Porsche,” Mena explained.

“We need to have Porsche motivated to go to this kind of race. They need to be ready to win. So it will depend a little bit on that.

“Our home base is Dubai but it’s only 100 km away, so it would make sense. I would like to go to Abu Dhabi; let’s see how it goes. It’s always related to the sporting side.

“I don’t want to show up just to show up; we want to go and win. We will analyze the package we can have at the beginning. If it’s good enough, we will do it.”

Team “Well Prepared” Despite Nine-Month Pause

Mena believes that GPX Racing is “very well prepared” for Spa despite the 24-hour enduro being the team’s first race since the 3 Hours of Barcelona nine months ago.

A test session was held with the No. 221 driver lineup at Magny-Cours, located two hours south of ART’s facility near Sens, before the official two-day Spa test last month.

“For sure it’s not optimal,” said Mena. “When you do the races before, it’s always better for everybody because you’re in the rhythm.

“But I think we are still very well prepared. Most of the crew are the same as what we had last year. They know the car and the procedures.

“It would have been better if we were arriving here as a third race [of the year] but I think we still have a chance to do something.

“When going from race to race, you know you won’t miss things. When it’s been six or eight months, you might forget something. But that’s it. At the end, everything is well-prepared.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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