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Intercontinental GT Challenge

24H Spa Set to Go Ahead on Original July-August Date

SRO planning to run 24H Spa on original summer date after postponement considered…

Photo: Kevin Pecks/SRO

The Total 24 Hours of Spa is set to go ahead on its original date of July 29-August 1 while the event’s general manager has said that he is holding a “glimmer of hope” that spectators might be allowed to attend the renowned GT3 endurance race this year.

Endurance-info reports that promoter SRO Motorsports Group is sticking to its planned summer date for Spa, which is a round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli and the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup.

Event manager Laurent Gaudin and SRO boss Stephane Ratel indicated during last weekend’s GTWC Europe Sprint Cup round at Magny-Cours that Belgium’s ongoing coronavirus restriction easing, and the collateral disruption that would be caused by rescheduling Spa, prompted a call not to move the race from its original calendar slot.

Several European countries including Belgium are currently implementing exit strategies from a tightening of social restrictions in response to a winter rise in COVID-19 cases.

Sporting events are allowed to take place in Belgium but only behind closed doors, as evidenced by the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Spa on May 1.

However, SRO is known to have considered pushing back its Spa event by around two months, in part to guarantee its status amid coronavirus restriction easing and also to give a greater chance for spectators, sponsor representatives and other guests to attend.

Last year the 24 Hours of Spa was postponed from its traditional late July slot to October 24-25 following a Belgian ban on large public gatherings.

“We had mentioned internally that the date of the event could be changed depending on the health situation, like 2020,” said Gaudin.

“After reflection, it was decided to maintain the original date.

“We are following the deconfinement plans with a glimmer of hope of having a gauge to accommodate the public in suitable sanitary conditions.

“SRO Motorsports Group is organizing 14 championships, which would have had an impact on other series, not to mention the agreement with the ADAC GT Masters [not to have any clashing events].

“Making a change to the end of the season became complicated without moving other dates, not to mention the [support] series such as GT4 European Series, Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe, Renault Clio Europe, TCR Europe and TC France.”

It’s understood that the 24H Spa test on July 22-23 and the Intelligent Money British GT Championship overseas round at the same venue on July 24-25 also remain in place.

The call for Spa to run on its planned date comes shortly after the Automobile Club de l’Ouest declared that its rescheduled 24 Hours of Le Mans will go ahead on Aug. 21-22, along with an expression of confidence that some form of fan access will be possible.

Despite Gaudin’s cautious optimism, it is unclear if fans will be allowed to attend Spa.

Ratel has previously indicated that SRO would be willing to stage Spa without spectators for a second consecutive year, but acknowledged this would be a “financial disaster”.

All but one of the GT World Challenge Europe events held since the start of the coronavirus pandemic have been run without public access, with the exception being the Nürburgring Endurance Cup round last September.

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report.

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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