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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Spa Wednesday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Wednesday notebook from the paddock at Spa-Francorchamps…

Photo: SRO

***The lack of spectators at this year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa made for a quiet Wednesday as the traditional pre-event town-to-circuit parade on public roads did not go ahead. Teams used the lack of public activities to hone their pit stops and prepare for the upcoming track action.

***It also gave CMR an opportunity to repair its No. 108 Bentley Continental GT3 that was damaged in a crash during Tuesday’s Bronze driver test. The car appeared to have a new front-end fitted, while work was still being carried out on Wednesday evening.

***Phase 1 of SRO Motorsports Group’s three-stage sanitation protocol is in force this weekend. A major part of the protocol is a limit on crew numbers, with no more than 22 people including drivers allowed per car.

***Simon Gachet has joined Attempto Racing’s Silver Cup squad and will share the No. 55 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo with Nicolas Schoell, Alex Aka and Finlay Hutchison. Gachet, whose full-season drive this year was in Sprint Cup with Sainteloc Racing, replaces Kim Luis Schramm.

***Raton Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo is being driven by Christoph Lenz, Michael Petit, Stefano Constantini and Lucas Mauron. The team did not have any drivers on the provisional entry list.

***Half of the dozen Silver Cup entries have four drivers. A total of 22 cars in the field – including all the Pro-Am and Am Cup competitors – are being driven by quartets.

***Dorian Boccolacci is set for double-duty with the 24 Hours and Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe support races after the Frenchman was called up to drive for Audi Sport Team Sainteloc. Boccolacci normally drives for Oregon Team in Super Trofeo.

***Gilles Vannelet, Stephane Lemeret and Valentin Hasse-Clot are contesting races in GT3 and GT4 machinery. They also have rides in the GT4 European Series, which is holding its penultimate round of the season at Spa. View the GT4 entry list here.

***Team WRT’s staff who were at the early stages of last weekend’s ADAC GT Masters meeting at the Red Bull Ring are working at Spa having produced negative COVID-19 tests. Three members of the team tested positive last week, prompting WRT to skip the GT Masters round. WRT is using a mix of staff from its GT and DTM racing programs, owing to the size of its Spa operation.

***Most teams have had an extremely busy last few months, but few schedules rival the intensity of WRT’s. The Belgian outfit is entering the eighth of 11 back-to-back GT rounds, while its separate DTM team also has six rounds to contest during that window.

***The 59 Racing Team McLaren 720S GT3 that was originally earmarked for a full-season entry is absent from Spa, having also missed the previous Endurance Cup round at the Nürburgring. Travel restrictions have been preventing members of the Australian team from traveling to Europe. The car is based at GT Motorsport in the UK.

***McLaren’s cause is being carried by Optimum Motorsport, which has one car entered in Pro. It’s set to mark the first time a McLaren 720S GT3 has contested a 24-hour race.

***Emil Frey Racing is contesting Spa with a third different manufacturer. It’s the first time the Swiss team is running its GT Open championship-winning Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos in the race.

“We were able to gather a lot of information and gain insights and learnings with our Jaguar and Lexus during the past few years and are therefore traveling to Spa with high expectations,” said team technical director Juerg Flach. “It’s our goal to continue our successful streak and to finish the race on top.”

***This edition of the 24 Hours of Spa is the 20th since the start of the event’s GT era. Audi has been the most successful brand over the last two decades, winning four times.

***Paddock rumors suggest that Grasser Racing Team may be considering a return to GTWC Europe next year. The Austrian Lamborghini outfit currently runs cars in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and ADAC GT Masters.

***Audi presented its RS e-tron GT prototype electric car on Wednesday. The vehicle is produced on the same Neckarsulm production line as the R8 LMS GT3 Evo. It was displayed with decals from the GTX World Tour, an innovative technologies competition proposed by SRO last year.

***Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke said: “The fascinating Audi RS e-tron GT prototype is the ideal basis for a promising concept with electrified drives in GT racing, as announced by the SRO with the GTX World Tour.”

***The RS e-tron GT prototype will lead the 24H Spa field into its formation lap ahead of Saturday’s race start. An Audi R8 LMS GT2 is also on-site. The car recently embarked on a tour of the Chinese market to stoke up customer interest in the East Asian region.

***SRO is holding a press conference on Friday afternoon. Company founder and CEO Stephane Ratel is expected to outline the group’s plans for the coming year including further details of the GT World Challenge draft calendars that were presented last month and a provisional Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli calendar.

***It will not include the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, which was canceled earlier this week by promoters Supercar Events, due to international travel restrictions into Australia.

***The 2021 Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe schedule is also set to be released on Friday.

***Thursday’s track action begins with Free Practice 1 at 11:10 a.m. CEST (5:10 a.m. EST). The schedule also includes Pre-Qualifying practice, qualifying to determine the contestants of Friday’s Super Pole, and night practice.

Laurent Mercier 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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