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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Spa Wednesday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Wednesday notebook from the 24H Spa paddock…

Photo: SRO

***A group picture was taken on the ‘endurance’ pit straight featuring all 58 cars taking part in the 73rd running of the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa. The Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3, the No. 37 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo and the No. 51 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 made up the front row. Double defending winner Porsche published its own group photo taken at Bus Stop.

***Technical scrutineering was completed on Wednesday morning after the first batch of cars went through the same process on Tuesday. There was no track action on Wednesday besides promotional activities, while Tuesday featured the Bronze driver test. Pieder Decurtins led the way in the Haegeli by T2 Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R with a time of 2:21.976.

***Walkenhorst Motorsport has withdrawn its Am-category BMW M6 GT3 for “moral reasons” in light of recent flooding in western Europe. Henry Walkenhorst, Mario von Bohlen, Friedrich von Bohlen and Don Yount were due to drive the No. 36 car.

***Walkenhorst team manager Niclas Koenigbauer explained the decision: “As our drivers also have friends in this area which was impacted badly by the floods, they’re not feeling great about having fun for 24 hours during the race while others are still trying to clean up and get everything ready,” he told Sportscar365. “We sat together and discussed that topic, and decided that for moral reasons that they didn’t want to drive this car.”

***The newly consolidated spectator ‘bubble’ is a restricted area for photographers, leaving many of the iconic photo locations, such as the outside of Eau Rouge and Les Combes, unavailable to accredited photographers this weekend due to COVID-19 protocols.

***The spectator bubble stretches from the outside of La Source through Bruxelles as well as an inner portion from Bruxelles to Pouhon.

***Six of the nine GT3 brands competing this weekend have received changes in minimum weight since the Paul Ricard 1000km, the only other track on SRO’s Category B track-specific Balance of Performance table.

***Both the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo have been given a 10 kg weight break, while the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, Bentley Continental GT3 and McLaren 720S GT3 have each shed 5 kgs.

***The only car to receive an increase in minimum weight is the BMW M6 GT3 (+5 kg). The changes were communicated to teams on July 20.

***The minimum full-fill refueling time, meanwhile, has decreased from 41 to 39 seconds for this round. Short-fill maximum times have dropped from 10 to 8 seconds.

***Ferrari has not committed to the full Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season, with a decision to come after Spa. A good result could see the two Iron Lynx Ferraris appear at the final two rounds.

“If we go to Indianapolis or Kyalami, I would like to maintain exactly the same lineup,” said Attivita Sportive GT director Antonello Coletta earlier this month. “This is the idea. If we don’t have a chance to go, OK. But if we go, we will stay with the same lineup.”

***A number of representatives from SRO America are expected to be on-site this weekend including President and CEO Greg Gill, GTWC America series manager Staci Langham as well as shareholders Peter Cunningham and Jim Haughey.

***Haughey is making his first trip to Spa-Francorchamps despite his K-PAX Racing team having taken part in the race last year with Bentley.

***An example of the upcoming BMW M4 GT3 is hidden in one of the manufacturer’s paddock structures, behind a selection of new BMW road models. Audi is also preparing a stand to display its recently-announced R8 LMS GT3 Evo II in front of the teams racing this weekend.

***Mercedes-AMG has launched a series of limited-edition “ready-to-race” GT3 cars commemorating the 50th-anniversary of the ‘Red Pig’ Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG finishing second at Spa. The trio consists of an SLS AMG GT3, an AMG GT3 and an AMG GT3 Evo, all in classic dark red liveries. Each includes a plaque bearing the signature of AMG co-founder Hans Werner Aufrecht.

***The special-edition GT3 cars will appear alongside the 1971 ‘Red Pig’ in a paddock installation. The 24 Hours of Spa paddock is not open to spectators this weekend, due to it being in a separate sanitary ‘bubble’.

***Herberth Motorsport has brought its No. 7 Porsche from ADAC GT Masters to Spa for use as a spare parts vehicle. Klaus Bachler, who is with Dinamic Motorsport this weekend, and Simona de Silvestro drive for the GT Masters entry.

***Elsewhere in the Porsche camp, Schnabl Engineering has brought along spare parts from its Falken Motorsports NLS program to support its last-minute independent entry this weekend. Schnabl is using two Falken-liveried trucks for its single-car effort.

***Vincenzo Sospiri Racing is considering a return to the Asian Le Mans Series next year. Team boss Vincenzo Sospiri explained that the goal is to prepare for the widely-rumored adoption of GT3 rules at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “Possibly we will do Asian LMS next year,” he said. “One car will be a ‘proper’ car, but you still need an Am driver there. The other car could be for gentlemen only. This is just general talking with Lamborghini.”

***SPS Automotive Performance is coming off a 2nd place overall finish in the Aurum 1006 km powered by Hankook street race (formerly known as Palanga 1000 km) in Lithuania with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by the all-Lithuanian lineup of Nemunas Dagilis, Nerijus Dagilis and Deividas Jocius.

***Andrea Bertolini, driver of the No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari, completed his 500th Formula 1 test for the Italian manufacturer on July 9. The veteran Italian sports car racer undertook his landmark test aboard the Ferrari 375 in which Jose Froilan Gonzalez won the British Grand Prix 70 years ago to the day.

***The TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa race weekend roars into life on Thursday with four track sessions, starting with Free Practice at 10:50 a.m. CEST (4:50 a.m. EDT). Pre-Qualifying practice starts at 3:45 p.m. local, followed by qualifying to decide the 20 cars that will take part in Friday’s Super Pole shootout. That begins at 8:50 p.m. (2:50 p.m. EDT) and will be followed by night practice at 10:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. EDT).

John Dagys 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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