Only three weeks to go before the Total 24 Hours of Spa and most teams participating in the highlight of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series have finalised their line-ups, the provisional entry list can be found below.
No fewer than 60 cars from 11 manufacturers are entered for the 90th anniversary 24h meeting and that number might increase. A couple of teams such as NovaRacing (Nissan) and Brussels Racing (Aston Martin) are still believed to be working on their entries.
Last year’s 24h winners HTP Motorsport add a third Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 for Maximilian Buhk, who shared last year’s winning car with Bernd Schneider, Buhk joins Harold Primat and Nico Verdonck in the #84 car. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT enter a third car also, the #2 R8 LMS Ultra will have Lotterer-Fässler-Tréluyer at the wheel, three time winners of the Le Mans 24 hours in an Audi prototype all. This trio will be hoping to join a very select group of drivers that have won both the French and Belgian endurance classics in the same year; only Luigi Chinetti in 1949, and Romain Dumas in 2010 have accomplished this feat. Reigning Pro Cup team champions, BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS, are back for the Total 24 Hours of Spa and only the 24h as it is the only round of the Series they will enter this year.
The Pro-Am Cup cars make up half of the field as no fewer than 31 cars are entered in this category. Most striking is the impressive AF Corse delegation, the Italian squad bring no less than four cars. The Prancing Horse remains the best represented manufacturer in the category by a long way, without the additional AF Corse car, as there are 13 Ferrari 458’s in Pro-Am overall. Other brands get a serious boost as well: the Aston Martin of MP Motorsport will get the company of two other AMR supported Pro-Am Vantage GT3’s, cars entered by Beechdean and Leonard Motorsport who bring former Grand Prix-driver Pedro Lamy into the team; plus, there is a solitary Lamborghini entered by Lago Racing, only one but it has come a long way! The All-Australian quartet of Roger Lago, David Russell, Steven Richards and Steven Owen update the country’s representation record, the most recent Australian team taking on the daunting challenge of the Total 24 Hours of Spa was Juniper Racing in 2008.
Can anybody beat Rinaldi in the Gentlemen Trophy? Each of the first three rounds of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series has seen their drivers standing on the top step of the GTR podium. The #458 GT Corse by Rinaldi Ferrari 458 of Alexander Matschull and Frank Schmickler, with help form Pierre Ehret, has swept all before it and are, of course, aiming to make it four in a row in Spa. AF Corse are their closest rivals and will have two cars in the GTR class, notably Portuguese driver Francisco Guedes who will hope for another pole position to make it four out of four and, crucially, to convert qualifying pace into a race win. The old adage of The Hare & The Tortoise spings to mind.
Local favourites Belgian Audi Club Team WRT have added double Total 24 Hours of Spa-winner Fred Bouvy to their GTR line-up. Bouvy took the overall win in the Belgian classic in 1999 and 2000 and added a third place in the PK Carsport Corvette back in 2007. Somewhat thankfully, three new teams have expanded the by now traditional GTR Audi vs. Ferrari battle to a five-way fight; GDL Motorsport bring their Mercedes SLS AMG GT3, Delahaye Racing their Porsche 997 GT3R, and John Gaw’s British GT entered PGF-Kinfaun Aston Martin Vantage GT3 makes the trip to add some spice and variety to the category.
Preparations for Round 4 of the Blancpain Endurance Series begin with today’s official test day and the race procedings proper kick-off with the traditional driver parade through Spa town before the engines turn over in anger with Free Practice, Qualifying, and Night Qualifying on Thursday 24th July. ‘Super Pole’ Qualifying, that sets the grid order, takes place on Friday evening and the race itself gets underway at 14:30GMT Saturday 26th July 2014.