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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Spa Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race news & notes from a thrilling Total 24 Hours of Spa…

Photo: Gruppe C Photography

***ROWE Racing’s victory with the No. 98 Porsche 911 GT3 R marked the first time since 2012 that the same team has won both the Total 24 Hours of Spa and the Nürburgring 24 in the same year. The last team to do so was Phoenix Racing with Audi machinery.

***The ROWE squad, which is run by Motorsport Competence Group, has now finished on the Spa podium in four of the last five editions. The odd-year-out was 2017.

***Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber both became first-time Spa winners, while Laurens Vanthoor added to his 2014 victory in a WRT Audi. Tandy has now won the three European 24-hour classics at Spa, the Nürburgring and Le Mans outright.

***ROWE team boss Hans-Peter Naundorf said his “heart nearly stopped on two occasions” in the drama-filled closing stages. “The way that Nick Tandy managed to catch the car [from a spin] in Eau Rouge was incredible. And when I heard those noises on the last lap, I thought it was all over.”

***Audi Sport Team Attempto’s suspected electrical problem that Frederic Vervisch mentioned on the live TV feed turned out to be a fault with the runner-up car’s speed limiter, which led to a drive-through for a pit speeding infringement at one stage.

***Porsche equaled Audi for the most 24 Hours of Spa wins in the GT era which spans 20 editions. Both German manufacturers now have four overall accolades apiece. Porsche also became the fifth brand to have its cars take back-to-back GT-era wins.

***Michael Christensen explained the problems that prevented him, Kevin Estre and Richard Lietz from defending their 2019 overall victory in their KCMG Porsche:

“At a pit stop with Kevin he came in, took on tires, but the mechanic wasn’t 100 percent sure the wheel was on,”‘ Christensen told Sportscar365. “A couple of laps later Kevin said he had some vibrations, but he finished the stint and was really fast. But then when he came in and we took the wheel off, the upright was destroyed. It was not our day.”

***The McLaren 720S GT3 had a rocky 24-hour race debut as a tire debris pick-up in the early stages resulted in a broken front splitter that in turn contributed to problems with the car’s power steering. “Obviously we’re disappointed, but it’s also the first time the 720S has raced here and we were up against the big boys in global GT racing,” reflected Rob Bell, who was at the wheel when the issues took hold.

***The reason for the No. 163 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo’s retirement in the final two hours was damage to the rear-left hub caused by earlier contact with another car, per a Lamborghini spokesperson. Franck Perera was at the wheel when it stopped, while Albert Costa was driving at the time of the root cause incident.

***HubAuto Racing’s Pro-class Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2o2o failed to reach the finish after a drivetrain issue occurred in the last few minutes. An early short fuel stop put Kamui Kobayashi into the lead during hour two. However, the Taiwanese squad – which had already changed an engine in the build-up – went on to battle further issues with its replacement twin-turbo V8 unit.

***SMP Racing’s Ferrari that rose through the order to become a podium contender by Sunday also retired shortly before the end. Sergey Sirotkin was tipped into a spin by Patrick Pilet at Turn 9 with just over two hours remaining, taking the factory-backed car out of contention.

***Bentley squad K-PAX Racing was satisfied with its 24H Spa debut despite both its cars finishing off the lead lap. “Overall we’re really pleased with the results,” program manager Darren Law told Sportscar365. “We had strong cars at some point. We had some [penalties] that set us back but honestly for our first time as a team to come to Spa and have a 10th and 12th, that’s pretty respectable.”

***Bentley was the only brand with multiple entries to have all of its cars finish the race. Honda Racing’s only NSX GT3 Evo also made it to the checkered flag.

***Three family links could be found on this year’s Spa grid. Father and son Rob and Ricky Collard won the Pro-Am class, while twins Robert and Alfred Renauer shared a Porsche in the same class. Brothers Dries and Laurens Vanthoor both competed in Pro.

***Barwell Motorsport, the team the Collards drove for, has now won three different classes in the last three editions. The British Lamborghini squad won Am Cup in 2018, Silver Cup last year and Pro-Am this time around. Two of Barwell’s 2020 drivers – Sandy Mitchell and Leo Machitski – had a hand in more than one of those victories.

***Unlike last year, the Pro-Am winning car beat the Silver Cup winner. Barwell finished 15th overall, a lap ahead of Haupt Racing Team’s No. 5 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.

***The fastest lap of the race was a time of 2:18.146 set by Orange 1 FFF Racing team Lamborghini driver Marco Mapelli on lap 238 of 527.

***While more entries than the stated number failed to finish, a total of 18 cars – or 32 percent of the 56-car field – were classified as retirements. Despite this substantial number which included several Pro entries, a record eight cars finished on the lead lap. This beat the previous-highest amount of six set in 2017.

***The GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup drivers’ championship lead is a tie coming out of Spa, which had points distributions at six, 12 and 24 hours.

***Raffaele Marciello, Felipe Fraga and Timur Boguslasvkiy of AKKA-ASP and Christian Engelhart, Sven Mueller and Matteo Cairoli of third-place finisher Dinamic Motorsport have 54 points each.

***In the combined GTWC Europe classification for Endurance and Sprint Cup, Boguslavskiy leads Marciello – who missed a Sprint round – by 137 points to 127.5 points. Next are WRT Audi drivers Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts on a score of 113.

***Boguslavskiy’s title leads come despite the Russian driver not turning a lap in the race. AKKA-ASP’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo retired after a brake explosion approaching halfway, while Fraga and Marciello took turns to perform triple stints in the opening hours.

***The Endurance Cup class points leaders are: Jonathan Hui/Chris Froggatt/Eddie Cheever III (Pro-Am), Frederik Schandorff/Patrick Kujala/Alex MacDowall (Silver Cup) and Romano Ricci/Pierre-Yves Paque/Stephane Lemeret/Clement Mateu (Am Cup).

***A breakdown of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli points after three rounds can be found here. The next IGTC event is the Kyalami 9 Hour on Dec. 12.

***Endurance Cup next meets at the season-ending Paul Ricard 1000km on Nov. 15.

***During the annual SRO press conference that took place on Friday, SRO founder and CEO Stephane Ratel expressed confidence that both of these events can go ahead despite rising coronavirus case numbers heading into the European winter.

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

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