2017 Blancpain 24 Hours of Spa - Race Report
The 69th running of the epic Spa 24 Hours was as much a battle between the world’s top brands as it was one between top teams in a race that was marked, like last year, by multiple penalties which shaped the finishing order as well as some scary shunts. The Spa 24 Hours, a staple in the world of endurance racing, has been around for just about as much as the 24 Hours of Le Mans and, in recent years, it has seen a constant growth since becoming the blue riband event of the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup. The SRO-sanctioned series is also flourishing and now, the Spa 24 Hours, is also part of the Intercontinental GT Cup (alongside the Bathurst 12 Hours and others) and the Blancpain GT combined leaderboard which brings together the Endurance Cup and the Sprint Cup leaderboards.
This meant that none was fazed when a 63-strong entry list was presented, which comprised of Pro entries, Pro-Am, Am, and National entries. The designations are basically using the FIA-approved driver licensing system where the Pros are the Platinum and Gold-rated drivers while the Ams are the Silver and Bronze-rated ones. The National category is an addition to the usual GT3-only classes which aims to bring lower tier machinery to Spa, such as the Porsche 991 Cup, the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo or the Ferrari 488 Challenge. This year, only two Porsches made up the National class.
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McLaren 650S GT3 to get Special Livery for 2016 24 Hours of Spa
One of the three examples of the McLaren 650S GT3 that will race at this years 24 Hours of Spa will wear a special livery, the British firm announced today. The car run by customer team Garage 59 will wear a unique paint job based on the original logo that adorned the early race cars of the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing team.
Created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the last competitive outing for the original squad with Bruce McLaren himself at the wheel, the livery features the distinctive red, white, and green paint job seen on early 1960s cars. Designed by British illustrator Michael Turner, it was also the first to feature the famous "Speedy Kiwi." The latter will also be present on the 650S GT3’s roof.
The iconic badge was also featured on the 1965 McLaren M2A single-seater prototype and a number of Group 7 sports cars. The most famous of the cars which ran the "Speedy Kiwi was the McLaren M1A, which scored the first podium for the team on its debut at the Canadian circuit Mosport in September 1964.
The special 650S GT3, which will wear No. 60 and make a one-off appearance at Spa, will be driven by Bruno Senna, Luis Felipe Derani, and Duncan Tappy. Garage 59 is the leader of the Team’s Championship in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup with two wins from the first three events of the 2016 season.
The 2016 24 Hours of Spa is set to begin at 16.30 CST, Saturday, July 30.
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Just about every day, we see a new on-car camera shot that is exhilarating, but it’s always lacking something. This “something” that they always lack is the "real" feeling of the driver’s point of view, as the camera is usually connected to the car or on the top of the driver’s helmet.
Well, F1 Driver, Lucas di Grassi decided that it was time to give us a real-life driver’s-eye view of him racing his open-wheel car. He accomplished this by placing a small camera directly in front of one of his eyes, so he was literally driving with just one eye.
Granted, there were no other drivers on the course, but to see him navigate the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the rain was a thing of beauty. In addition, he gave us a taste of some of the speeds they drive by getting his car up to 280 km/h (174 mph) at the 2:45 mark, which is impressive enough in the rain, but with just one eye is simply nuts.
Take a look at the above video to get a true driver’s-eye view of the craziness that F1 drivers have to deal with every race day. It’s pretty intense to say the least.
Very few of us ever actually exceed 100 mph in our lives and even fewer ever exceed 200 mph, so there is only a small group of people that can actually explain what it feels like to drive in excess of 200 mph. One of people that can give us first-hand accounts is five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Derek Bell. Thanks to Motor Sport Magazine’s monthly podcast, we now have an avenue to hear him speak about his high speed antics.
This entertaining interview had several high spots; the first one was his recollection of driving a Porsche 962 at an eye-popping 238 mph, in the rain. He begins by calling driving over 200 mph a surreal experience and saying it’s like being on another world. He then talks about how the rain almost turns into a solid wall of water that you simply cannot see through. He tops it all off by saying “Fortunately, you go around a kink and you can slow down… ‘Cause you’re at the end.” He then continues to chuckle and call the entire experience “awful,” “but you did it.”
When asked what his favorite circuit was, he strangely said “Spa,” referring to Circuit De Spa-Francorchamps, which once featured the feared and once boycotted Masta Kink – a hairpin turn after a long straightaway. See Bell tackle the Spa Circuit and the Masta Kink in the video above.
Bell then spoke about his scariest moment, which also occurred at Spa while driving the Gulf-sponsored Mirage. During testing, he came around the Masta Kink at 190 mph and in the middle of the track was his rookie teammate’s red Lola racecar, obviously broken down or spun out, and he had nowhere to go. He says “To this day, I don’t know what I did. I guess I hit the brakes,” and somehow the Mirage managed to correct itself. After that he pulled into the pit stop, despite having more testing time to go.
The entire podcast is a great listen, if you have an hour to spare. Check it out by clicking here!
Mercedes will be entering this year’s 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) with a special edition SLS AMG GT3. This special edition will be donning a look inspired by the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG with which Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz achieved a class victory and overall second place 40 years ago.
The special Black Falcon SLS AMG GT3 will be distinguished by a red paint finish, the start number 35, and special sponsor stickers that will give it the exact same look as the legendary 300 SEL 6.8 AMG. The car will be driven by Kenneth Heyer (31, Wegberg), Thomas Jäger (34, Munich), and Stéphane Lémeret (37, Ophain-Bois-Seigneur-Isaac, Belgium).
Kenneth Heyer said: "It’s a great honour, exactly 40 years after my father’s success, for me to be bringing the Black Falcon SLS AMG GT3 to the starting line of the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps. Together with my team colleagues, I will be trying to achieve at least second place. The car will no doubt attract plenty of attention in the line-up with its look reminiscent of the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG, but naturally the focus will be on a good racing performance. The SLS AMG GT3 has the potential for a place on the winner’s rostrum, but as we all know, a 24-hour race obeys laws of its own."
When people say that Formula One cars are some of the fastest moving vehicles on the planet, some might scoff at that as an exaggeration of speed. Well, if you’re one of those skeptics, prepare to eat your words with this video.
Shot as an overlap featuring two separate videos taken at the Eau Rouge section of the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, these videos will give you a clear picture as to how much faster a Formula One car is compared to cars competing at the FIA GT Championship. Keep in mind also that cars that compete in this class consist of race-spec models from brands like Aston Martin, Audi, Lamborghini, Porsche, and Maserati.
With a notable line-up like this, you would think that the difference wouldn’t be that dramatic when you compare it to a Formula One car. Well, watch this awesome video and prepare to be proven wrong. Very, very wrong.
Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, has denied having said that Spa-Francorchamps is on the verge of being chopped off the F1 calendar. Speaking to a Belgian reporter after the Korean Grand Prix, Ecclestone said that a recent report in The Guardian twisted his words. Despite this, he has hinted that a few races might get cut from the European Formula One calendar.
“I am sure that in the years to come, we will lose a few races in Europe. It is almost certain. Which ones? I have no idea. But from our side, we want to keep Spa. There are long discussions about the grand prix there, but if it does go, it will be because of the government, not me,” said Ecclestone.
There have been rumors that three races might get axed: Silverstone, Spa, and Istanbul. We don’t think that the British have anything to worry about, due to the redesigned circuit and the fact that there are numerous teams based in the UK. That leaves Spa and Istanbul, which have both reported financial losses.
Either way, two new races will be coming on board very soon, including a track in Austin, Texas and one in Sochi, Russia. The race in the U.S is scheduled to open in 2012, while the Russian race is still a few years off.
Just like everybody else at this time of the year, Formula One also has its summer break. And now that vacation’s finally over, it’s time to return to the cockpits and head out to the next round of the 2010 Formula One calendar: the Belgian Grand Prix, and a date with one of the most demanding race tracks in the world, the Spa Francorchamps.
Known for being a notorious circuit filled with some of the world’s most exciting turns and corners - La Source, Eau Rouge, and Blanchimont come to mind – Spa is both a driver’s best friend and his own worst nightmare.
That being said, Red Bull Racing is hard-at-work in their preparations for the Belgian Grand Prix, but true to their form, they’re also giving time for their fans to get a feel of what driving around the track feels like from the cockpit. In this video, Sebastian Vettel gives us a tour around Spa and gives us the lowdown on his impressions of the track leading up to the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend.
With the GT1 championship battle impossibly close in the Le Mans Series, Larbre Competition will be hoping the vast and successful experience of both the team and their driver line-up at Spa-Francorchamps will give them the edge as round 4 of the 2007 season heads to the Belgian circuit.
Larbre Competition have won the Spa 24 Hours on two occasions, whilst the drivers in their lead Aston Martin DBR9, Fabrizio Gollin, Christophe Bouchut and Gabriele Gardel, boast five victories at the (...)
Team Vertu Racing won their first race of the season on Friday 27 July at the historic and evocative Spa-Francorchamps circuit, with Jamie Constable in Car 152 climbing from his 7th place starting position to take the top step of the podium. In an action-packed race with an incredible grid of 38 cars, Jamie managed to find his way through the slower traffic and to overtake several cars who couldn’t match his clearly superior pace and finished with a remarkable 10 second lead over his Ferrari (...)
The Ferrari driver topped the timesheets at 1:47.042s, with two-tenths of a second in front of Bmw Sauber’s Robert Kubica.
McLaren’s driver, Fernando Alonso set the 3rd fastest time being ahead of the Mark Webber’s Red Bull monopost.Giancarlo Fisichella was overtaken by the Red Bull monopost, setting a time of 1:47.724.
Alex Wurz was next up for the Wiliams team and ahead of Toyota monopost driven by Jarno Trulli.
Sebastien Bourdais set quite a good time in this 3rd session of testing.He (...)
After the big "disappointment" for not winning the Bristish Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton finished the day of test on the 1st place.The British driver was with four tenths quicker than BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari’s driver placed on the 3rd place being slower than Hamilton and Kubica.
It looks like Ralph Schumacher’s runs are getting better and better.After he obtained a good place in the Silverstone qualifying session but disappointed in the race, Schumacher obtained the (...)
Christian Klien will switch his Honda monopost for a Spyker at Spa-Francorchamps.The young driver is one of the drivers Spyker is considering following the leaving of Christijan Albers.
Colin Kolles, Spyker team boss said that he is very grateful to Honda for realeasing Klien at such short notice.
The young driver is also pleased with Spyker’s decision and very glad that the Spa-Francorchamps is one of his favourite tracks and can show better his skills.
Klien raced for Red Bull last (...)