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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Spa to Run Without Spectators; 25-Hour Format Scrapped

Spa to be held without trackside spectators; novel 25-hour format scrapped…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

SRO Motorsports Group has confirmed that the Total 24 Hours of Spa will go ahead behind closed doors while the novel 25-hour race duration plan has been abandoned.

24 Hours of Spa general manager Laurent Gaudin explained that fans cannot be admitted to SRO’s headline event on Oct. 22-25 due to measures against coronavirus transmission.

Spa marks the third round of both the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli and GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup.

The race is one of SRO’s biggest draws in terms of fan numbers, but this year the event will go ahead without public access. 

“First, it is important to underline that, unfortunately, we are not the only ones in this position,” said Gaudin.

“None of the annual large-scale events held at Spa-Francorchamps have welcomed public since the health crisis began, including the DTM, ELMS, WEC, and Formula One. 

“It is also true that the disease has not declined, something that we are frequently reminded of by the media. Nevertheless, we believed until the end.

“We tried everything to maneuver this huge event through the various protocols and very strict health constraints.

“After multiple proposals, with the requirements increasing and the volume of public authorised falling, we had to face facts and the whole team made the sad decision to lay down arms.”

Gaudin also confirmed that the planned 25-hour race duration, which would have been a first in the event’s history, has been abandoned.

The unique format, which was designed to account for daylight savings time ending during the race, has been scrapped and replaced with the familiar 24-hour setup.

It means the race will start at 3:30 p.m. CEST on Sunday, Oct. 24 and finish at 2:30 p.m. CET the following afternoon.

Gaudin explained that the lack of trackside fans contributed to the decision to call off the 25-hour initiative.

“Since the checkered flag fell in 2019 we had imagined this year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa – the 20th edition of the GT era – as an automotive festival,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the health crisis and the financial repercussions meant that everything had to be put on hold. 

“So we went back to work with the aim of giving fresh impetus to the October edition. New projects were created: covered spaces for the public, shuttles to discover the ‘backstage’ of the circuit, improved lighting, meetings with key characters.

“As part of this, we also planned to run an extra hour to coincide with the time change. We were optimistic and we thought, a little naively, that the disease would be behind us by this time of the year.

“With this not being the case and with no fans able to join us, we have elected to revert to the original format.”

The timetable for Spa has also been released, confirming the first official track sessions on the Tuesday and the top-20 Super Pole shootout for the Friday at 6:20 p.m. CEST.

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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