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Spa Pre-Race Notebook

Vincent Wouters’ pre-race notebook from Spa-Francorchamps…

Photo: VSA/SRO

Photo: Vision Sport Agency/SRO

***After being considerably down on top speed compared to the official test day, Grasser Racing Team decided to change engines on both cars ahead of the race. The two Huracán GT3s qualified outside the top-40, as the cars suddenly also developed balance problems during race week. The team is confident the engine change should close a large part of the gap to the pace setters. Also Sport Garage changed the engine in the No. 41 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. All three cars will start the race from the back of the grid.

***Several drivers saw their times from the Super Pole session canceled for not respecting the track limits. Both Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG GT3s dropped back due to infringements by Bernd Schneider (P18) and Yelmer Buurman (P17), while the ROAL Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 of Bruno Spengler also got caught and dropped back two positions.

***André Loterrer’s fastest lap time was canceled because the stewards deemed he hindered Vincent Abril’s No. 84 HTP Team Bentley Continental GT3 on his out lap, moving the No. 6 Phoenix Audi R8 LMS from P11 to P14 on the grid.

***The complete grid for the 67th running of the Total 24 Hours of Spa can be found here. Fifty seven cars are expected to take the start, with the Am Cup pole-sitting No. 10 Akka ASP Ferrari starting in 38th.

***Alex Zanardi has been training flat out during the week. Straight after Spa, the Italian will head Nottwil Switzerland, where he’ll compete in the Para-cycling Road World Championships. Zanardi admitted his commitments at Spa would compromise his preparation, but still felt it could be done. The 48-year-old used the undulating Belgian track as his training ground this week (pictured, above).

***Some rain is expected for the opening hours of the race, while wind speeds will also pick up on Saturday evening. There’s a slight chance of rain on Sunday. Temperatures have dropped considerably compared to earlier this week.

***Together with DTM team MTEK, Marc VDS Racing is helping develop the new BMW M6 GT3, which is being showcased to potential customers at Spa this weekend. The Belgian teams supply trucks, mechanics and their technical director at the test sessions that fit their schedule.

***Audi’s lineup for the Total 24 Hours of Spa includes a wealth of endurance experience. A quick look at the lineup of drivers: 12 Nürburgring 24 wins (Mike Rockenfeller, Marc Basseng, Frank Stippler, Markus Winkelhock, Nicki Thiim, Christian Mamerow, René Rast, Christopher Mies, Edward Sandström, Nico Mueller, Laurens Vanthoor), 8 Le Mans 24h wins (Rockenfeller, Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, Stephane Ortelli), 7 Spa 24h wins (Ortelli, Fässler, Rast, Stippler, Winkelhock, Laurens Vanthoor), 1 Daytona 24h win (Rockenfeller) and 1 Dubai 24h win (Edward Sandström).

***JRM Group has launched a range of ‘GODZILLER’ merchandise inspired by its No. 73 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 car, which is carrying a new all-red livery this weekend. The merchandise has been developed in conjunction with KEP Print Group and is built around the brand icon that was drawn with input from JRM’s all-British lineup of Martin Plowman, Sean Walkinshaw and Craig Dolby.

***Watch the Total 24 Hours of Spa on the official Web stream, beginning Saturday at 4 p.m local which will offer live coverage from 4-8 p.m., 8:30-11 p.m., 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. U.S. fans can tune into NISMO.TV for an unrestricted feed.

***British Eurosport will provide live coverage of eight hours of the race, with Mark Cole and Stuart Hall calling the action from 4:15-4:30 p.m., 5-7 p.m., 7:30-9:30 p.m., 7:30-8:30 a.m. and 2-3:45 p.m. (all times BST). A 15-minute recap will be broadcast at 7 p.m. as part of the Motorsports Weekend program.

***North American viewers can tune into CBS Sports Network Sunday at 6 p.m. ET for a one-hour recap of the race.

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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