As the only overseas round of the British GT Championship, the annual visit to Spa-Francorchamps typically sees several interesting one-off entries join the championship. This year is no different in that regard, with the European GT4 Series and Reiter’s Young Stars programme also joining the bill.
One of the more intriguing deals to come together sees British Touring Car Championship regular Hunter Abbott return to British GT for the first time since 2009 in a Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan. Abbott will join Rolf Iniechen, who is using the event to prepare for the upcoming Spa 24 Hours, after being recommended to team owner Gottfried Grasser by his former Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux engineer Wim Everaerts.
The 35-year-old, who has an FIA Bronze driver grading, has enjoyed previous success at Spa in a GT4 Ginetta G50 in 2009, but told Racing.GT that he would be treating this weekend as an opportunity to learn the ropes in GT3, having only completed a few preliminary shakedown laps in Tuesday’s test.
“Before this all I’ve done in terms of GT racing is GT4,” he said. “I did a few laps to make sure I could fit in the car and that was it. I’ve never previously driven a car with lots of rear downforce, ABS, traction control and all that stuff, it’s completely different to what I’m doing currently in touring cars.
“Spa is a circuit I love but on the flipside, if you’re trying to get used to a new car and you’re going through some of the most daunting corners in the world in Eau Rogue and Blanchimont, it might take some getting used to.”
Abbott isn’t planning on making any further outings in GTs this year, but revealed that he had come close to signing a deal to race in the European Le Mans Series before finalising his BTCC programme.
“At the beginning of the year, it looked like I couldn’t get a drive in British Touring Cars, so I came very close to signing a deal in the ELMS and GTs was very much on my radar,” he said. “In the end I was able to get a deal together to stay in touring cars, but I also want to keep my face in the GT world a little bit because it’s always good to get experience in different cars and different championships.
“When I was a kid, the poster I had on my wall was of a Lamborghini Countach. I could never have dreamed that I would get to drive the modern day version, let alone race one of these things.”
Abbott and Iniechen aren’t the only car Grasser has entered for Spa, with Michele Beretta and Ronald Hölling due to appear in a second GT3 Huracan.
Also on the entry list are two Mercedes AMG GT3s entered by Team Black Falcon, marking the car’s first appearance in British GT. Oliver Morley and DTM regular Dani Juncadella will drive the No. 57, while the No. 58 of Abdulaziz al-Faisal and Miguel Toril will give Optimum Motorsport competition in the Silver Cup for the first time this season. The four drivers will team up for the 24 Hours in the Pro-Am class.
A second Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 for Callum McLeod and Ian Loggie extends the GT3 entry to 17.
Meanwhile in GT4, Bake Off presenter Paul Hollywood will make his eagerly anticipated British GT debut alongside reigning champion Jamie Chadwick in a second Beechdean Aston Martin Vantage.