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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Spa Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook after the Total 24 Hours of Spa…

Photo: Porsche

***Richard Lietz revealed that the driver lineup for the winning GPX Racing squad was only confirmed last month at Le Mans. “As the WEC championship was in the off-season we were like, ‘OK, should we do this or [have] a holiday?’ Now I think we are all really happy we did it,” he said.

***GPX’s win marked the first for Porsche in the 24 Hours of Spa since 2010 when when Romain Dumas, Martin Ragginger, Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler claimed victory for BMS Scuderia Italia in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, in what was another Porsche 1-2 overall result.

***Kevin Estre took to Twitter during the race to describe the treacherous conditions overnight, writing: “This was the worse conditions I had in my career! Visibility 2m ahead and aquaplaning all the way to Les Combes! Had to drive 140kph down the straight and was still not controlling the car.”

***The constantly changing weather conditions made for “one of the most intense Spa 24 Hours that we can remember”, according to Pirelli’s circuit technical manager Matteo Braga.

“The demands placed on our fitting village were greater than they have ever been, with the cars tending to change tires at every stop under the safety cars, and very little double-stinting because of the changeable weather,” he said. “At one point during the night we were fitting tires faster than the teams could collect them – and there was still a constant requirement for new tires to be fitted onto rims.”

***More than half of the race was run either under yellow or red flag conditions, with only 11 hours and 38 minutes of green flag running It included a five hour and 48-minute red flag period in the morning, and two hours behind the safety car.

***Porsche has closed to within eight points of Mercedes-AMG for the lead of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli manufacturers’ championship heading into next month’s penultimate round of the season in Suzuka.

****Porsche 911 GT3 R project manager Sebastian Golz says they can’t take their current momentum for granted, despite having claimed victories in two of the three IGTC races so far this season. “Suzuka will be two Pro cars and it’s always difficult to get a strong result,” he told Sportscar365. “You have to be prepared. It’s a different race. We will try to do our best and adapt everything and go for it.”

***It was a tough day for several IGTC title-contending drivers, most notably for California 8 Hours winner Nick Foster, who crashed out in the second hour in his No. 227 HubAutoCorsa Ferrari 488 GT3.

***Maxi Buhk and Maxi Goetz have seen their IGTC points lead reduced to seven points over Porsche’s Dirk Werner, Dennis Olsen and Matt Campbell, who scored sixth place points in their No. 99 ROWE Racing entry. Raffaele Marciello, meanwhile, has been separated on points to his normal Mercedes-AMG co-drivers, three points behind Buhk and Goetz.

***Oman Racing with TF Sport’s Pro-Am class win marked the first 24H Spa victory for Aston Martin in any class during the GT era of the race. Nicki Thiim also picked up his third class win in a major 24-hour race, adding to wins at Le Mans in 2014 and Nürburgring in 2017.

***The team’s spare chassis sourced mid-week is the car usually driven by Graham Davidson and Jonny Adam in the British GT Championship. Both drivers were competing at Spa, at Daiko Lazarus Racing and Garage 59, respectively. They’ll drive the Spa-winning car this weekend at Brands Hatch.

***SMP Racing looked set to wrap up the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup title during the race after picking up 12 points at both the six and 12-hour marks, but its retirement late on means it now only has a ten-point lead over Orange 1 FFF Racing Team. Black Falcon is a further ten points back, with 26 up for grabs at Barcelona.

***Miguel Molina, Davide Rigon and Mikhail Aleshin have a 22-point lead over Maro Engel, Yelmer Buurman and Luca Stolz in the Endurance Cup standings, while Andrea Caldarelli, Marco Mapelli and Dennis Lind have slipped to third.

***Repairs to SMP’s Ferrari 488 GT3 after its collision with a KCMG Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 only took around 20 minutes, but the AF Corse-run squad decided to retire to save its engine for Barcelona. “We spent six laps on car repairs, and then decided to retire, because there was no point in continuing the race,” explained Aleshin. “It is a pity, because the SMP Racing team was worthy to be in the top three and even compete for victory in this race.”

***Engel and Stolz are now 10.5 points clear in the combined Blancpain GT standings, with Caldarelli and Mapelli second. SMP’s trio are third despite not competing in Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. FFF leads Black Falcon by just four points in the overall teams’ standings.

***Nico Bastian, Timur Boguslavskiy and Felipe Fraga wrapped up the Endurance Cup Silver Cup title one race early with their runner-up finish on Sunday. Barwell Motorsport’s Adrian Amstutz and Leo Machitski won the Endurance Cup Am title, meanwhile. TF Sport’s Charlie Eastwood, Ahmad Al Harthy and Salih Yoluc have a 16-point lead over Tom Onslow-Cole and Remon Vos in the Endurance Cup Pro-Am standings after their class win.

***ROWE Racing finished with all three of its Porsches in the top seven, while the second-place finish for Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet marks the German squad’s third podium finish in four years at Spa. “We wanted to put on a better performance here but no one expected it to go as well as this,” said team principal Hans-Peter Naundorf. “We proved most impressively that we have been one of the best endurance teams in Europe over the last five years.”

***AKKA ASP’s factory-supported Mercedes finished 13th after an unsuccessful call to send Marciello out on slick tires ahead of an expected break in rainfall that didn’t materialize. “A puncture in the night made us lose a bit of time, but it was [in the] morning that we made a mistake,” said team principal Jerome Policand. “The gamble to go out on slicks when the race restarted could have worked, but we lucked out with too much optimism and paid for it.”

***Orange 1 FFF Racing Team is exploring a possible end-of-year run in the Kyalami 9 Hour according to Head of Lamborghini Motorsport Giogio Sanna, who said it will depend on the outcome of the Chinese-Italian team’s results in Europe. “There’s a lot of planning on the logistics side. We will see,” Sanna told Sportscar365.

***FFF’s Andrea Caldarelli, Marco Mapelli and Dennis Lind will also drive one of JLOC’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos in next month’s Suzuka 10 Hours.

***An additional Honda NSX GT3 Evo could be present at Barcelona in the Blancpain GT Series finale. Sportscar365 understands that French outfit CMR, which runs Alpine A110 GT4s in European and French GT4 competition, is looking to enter a car in the three-hour race. A spokesperson for Honda confirmed that the team has been in talks with the manufacturer.

John Dagys contributed to this report

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

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