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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Spa Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from the 74th TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

***Mercedes-AMG established a significant lead in the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli manufacturers’ standings courtesy of Akkodis ASP winning the 74th TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa. It marked Mercedes-AMG’s second IGTC win in two races.

***Mercedes-AMG came away from Spa with 86 points, 51 more than Audi Sport. Ferrari is third on 25 points, ahead of Lamborghini on 22 and Porsche on 13.

***In the IGTC drivers’ standings, Jules Gounon leads on 50 points after taking his second straight series victory, while his co-driver Daniel Juncadella and Spa runner-up Luca Stolz are joint-second on 43 points. Maro Engel is next on 30, with Raffaele Marciello on 25. The highest non-Mercedes-AMG drivers are Ferrari’s Antonio Fuoco, Davide Rigon and Daniel Serra on 15 points.

***Mercedes-AMG claimed the ninth 1-2 result in the event’s GT racing era, which started in 2001. The last overall 1-2 was taken by Porsche teams GPX Racing and ROWE Racing in 2019. The brand earned the Coupe du Roi, which is presented to the manufacturer with the best results across all classes.

***Gounon became the second driver to win the 24 Hours of Spa with two different manufacturers in the GT era, having previously triumphed with Audi in 2017. He joins Fabrizio Gollin (Ferrari 2004, Chevrolet 2007) and Laurens Vanthoor (Audi 2014, Porsche 2020).

***In the final minutes of the race, the Frenchman was seen wearing his headphones in the Akkodis ASP garage, to help calm his nerves. “So I thought I would put my headset on and listen to my favorite song, which is I Want To Know What Love Is by Foreigner,” Gounon told Sportscar365. “I played it seven times in a row on maximum volume and just crossed my fingers and did not look.”

***Maximilian Goetz revealed that his No. 2 AMG Team GetSpeed crew also suffered from pedal box problems amid a messy race that also saw the team get penalized 20 seconds for an unsafe release in the first half. “In the end, we did not deserve first place,” Goetz said. “We deserved second maybe. This is where we are now.”

***Thomas Neubauer was visibly emotional in his No. 30 Team WRT Audi shortly after taking the checkered flag. “I am absolutely exhausted but so, so happy,” said the Frenchman. “The last stint was very stressful, always thinking about what might happen.”

***WRT claimed its and Audi’s first 24 Hours of Spa victory in the Silver Cup class, which has now been held five times. 

***Alessio Rovera set the fastest lap of the race aboard the Pro-Am winning No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 with a time of 2:17.480. The Italian notably improved upon the previous GT3 race lap record, set by Lamborghini’s Marco Mapelli in 2020, by 0.660 seconds.

***Rovera was absent from the post-race press conference, with his teammates explaining that he had become unwell from a lack of air conditioning aboard the car.

***Audi Sport Team Attempto raised its tire pressures during an early five-minute pit stop after Ricardo Feller encountered a puncture in the first hour, but his co-driver Dennis Marschall told Sportscar365 that this came at the expense of outright pace.

***Dinamic Motorsport will investigate further the steering issues that caused its early-leading No. 54 Porsche to retire. The car had multiple touches with the No. 2 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG in a positional battle that rendered it “undrivable” according to team manager Alessandro Antonelli, who explained that the toe angle was not out of place.

***While the No. 9 Herberth Motorsport Porsche retired early due to contact damage, part of the car lived on: the rear bumper was fitted to the sister No. 911 Herberth machine until that too retired after eight and a half hours when Alfred Renauer crashed out.

***It was a tough race for Garage 59, which saw both of its McLaren 720S GT3s retire following contact with other cars. The No. 159 car was eliminated by damage to the radiator after a coming together at Les Combes, while the Pro-Am contending No. 188 machine retired on the spot after Miguel Ramos’ heavy accident coming out of Courbe Paul Frere, after a touch from Sky-Tempesta Racing.

***Sky-Tempesta was added to the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli Pro-Am Challenge entry list at late notice. The No. 93 Mercedes-AMG finished third in the Gold Cup class and first in the IGTC Pro-Am stakes, beating SunEnergy1 Racing which holds a 15-point championship lead. 

***Gounon, Juncadella and Marciello established an 11-point lead in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup with two rounds to go. They exchanged the lead with Fuoco, Rigon and Serra three times at Spa, before going on to break clear with the race victory.

***Akkodis ASP leads Iron Lynx by 86 points to 71 in the teams’ standings, while Marciello is now 41.5 points clear at the top of the overall GTWC Europe table that combines results from Endurance Cup and Sprint Cup. Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts are second.

***Juncadella took his first GTWC Europe Endurance Cup victory since the 2017 Barcelona season finale, which he won alongside Tristan Vautier and Felix Serralles driving for ASP. Gounon now has four Endurance Cup wins, while Marciello is on two.

***Gounon also secured his third consecutive overall victory in Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli. He previously won the Kyalami 9 Hour with ASP in February and the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour with SunEnergy1 Racing in May.

***Thirty-four percent of cars that took the start failed to reach the finish, with many succumbing to accidents. This was the same percentage of cars that retired from last year’s edition.

***Two teams, Iron Lynx and SPS Automotive Performance, had two cars finish on different class podiums. Iron Lynx took third overall with its No. 71 Ferrari entry and also operated the Gold Cup-winning Iron Dames entry. SPS won the Bronze Cup duel, while its SunEnergy1-badged car finished second in Pro-Am.

***In total, five women celebrated class victories, with SPS’ Reema Juffali coming out on top in Bronze Cup as the all-female Iron Dames crew won Gold Cup. “It makes me proud and happy as well to see them on the podium,” Juffali said of the Iron Dames’ success. “Hopefully we will see more and more females out there in all facets of the sport.”

***Fellow Bronze winner Valentin Pierburg hinted after the race that he might not return to the Belgian endurance classic now that he has secured a class victory. “I’ve ticked that part of my bucket list as well now, so you won’t see me again in Spa,” Pierburg said.

***Ferrari’s Davide Rigon questioned his 60-second drive-through for speeding at 137.1 km/h under a Full Course Yellow, stating that his in-car marshaling system was “locked” and he was without communication on the other side of the track. “It was a bit of an unfair penalty actually, because normally I am a very safe driver, I respect the safety more than enough all the time,” he told the official broadcast. “I saw the FCY was counting down but I was stuck there. I was on the other side of the track but I lost the radio and I was just trying the car in front of me to have a reference. I didn’t gain or lose something.”

***The post-race podium ceremony was held for the first time in the concert area, on the Spa rallycross track next to Eau Rouge (pictured above). This marked a change from the usual spot above the original ‘endurance’ pit lane, which faced grandstands that have been demolished as part of Spa’s recent upgrade works.

***SRO Motorsports Group declared an attendance of 73,000 people across the four-day event.

***Christopher Mies was absent from night practice on Thursday to be present for the birth of his son, who has been named Paul. Mies returned to Spa to take the start of the race aboard the No. 25 Audi Sport Team Sainteloc Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II.

***The next round of the IGTC season is the Indianapolis 8 Hour on Oct. 7-9. GTWC Europe Endurance Cup reconvenes for the 3 Hours of  Hockenheim on Sep. 2-4.

Davey Euwema 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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