Successful start for Mercedes-AMG in TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa
The 74th running of the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race officially started with the traditional parade of the participants on Wednesday evening. During the reception in the centre of Spa with great atmosphere, the 14 participating Mercedes-AMG GT3s also showed themselves to the excited fans. On Thursday morning, on-track action started with a solid free practice. In the 90-minute session, the Customer Racing Teams were able to run through their programme as planned and adapt to the conditions of the modernised race track. Among others, the race at Spa serves as the second round of this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC), in which Mercedes-AMG scored a historic 1-2-3 in the opener at Bathurst.
- Thousands of fans celebrate the start of the world’s biggest GT3 race in Spa
- Mercedes-AMG Teams use free practice to get used to the revised track
- Four cars from Affalterbach eligible to score points for IGTC manufacturers’ standings
After a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19, Wednesday evening during the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa was all about the popular drivers’ parade again. In ideal weather conditions, thousands of fans in Spa and along the surrounding country roads in the Ardennes watched the prologue by the competitors and got in the right mood for the season highlight. This year, the field of 66 GT3 cars in total includes 14 Mercedes-AMG GT3s. As a result, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach has the largest contingent of all manufacturers. The Customer Racing Teams are participating in the Pro, Pro-Am, Gold, Silver and Bronze classes. The endurance racing classic is the third Endurance Cup round of this year’s GT World Challenge Europe (GTWC).
Moreover, four Mercedes-AMG GT3s are able to score points for the manufacturers’ standings of the Intercontinental GT Challenge: #2 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed, #55 Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM, #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP and the #777 entry of the Customer Racing Team Al Manar Racing by HRT Customer Racing Team. On top of that, the #75 Team SunEnergy1 Racing by SPS car is taking part in the Pro-Am Challenge of the IGTC. In the first race of the IGTC season, the Bathurst 12-hour race, Mercedes-AMG scored a historic 1-2-3 and is therefore leading the manufacturers’ standings with a huge margin. Both in the drivers’ standings and among the Pro-Am line-ups, AMG drivers are also leading in the IGTC points’ tables.
The battle for the prestigious overall win in the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa got underway with first free practice on Thursday. The drivers with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 primarily used the 90-minute session to adapt to the track of a little over seven kilometres. This year, that is particularly important as the famous circuit in the Ardennes was comprehensively modernised in spring. In the process, among others, new gravel beds were put in place in the Eau Rouge/Raidillon section. The Rivage corner also got an extended gravel bed to replace an asphalted run-off area. Additionally, the drivers have to deal with a new asphalt surface in numerous places, which is a particular new challenge in terms of tyre management. Lucas Auer (AUT) posted the fastest time of the Mercedes-AMG GT3s in first free practice: his time of 2m 17.875s with the #57 Winward Racing entry put him in third place in the session among the 66-car strong GT3 field. A first real assessment will follow on Thursday evening during the four-part qualifying in which the slots for the Superpole shootout are at stake.
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “Yesterday’s parade was a successful start of the world’s biggest GT3 race. There is no doubt that the elite of the scene is on the grid again for this year’s Spa 24-hour race. And here, it is with pride that I am counting in our teams and drivers. We are the only manufacturer competing in all the classes and we are doing so to win. Of course, I wouldn’t mind an overall win in any way either. After all, the race here in Spa has a very high status for AMG because of the history and a victory at the occasion of AMG’s 55th anniversary would be something really special. Together with our teams and drivers, we have prepared in the best possible way and we are looking forward to what will surely be a tough and thrilling race.”
Luca Stolz, Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed #2: “Yesterday was a very nice day for us. Finally, we are back in Spa with a huge parade. We had a lot of fun and signed many autographs. Today, there is a packed programme at the track: free practice, qualifyings and night practice. But I am glad that the action is now really starting today. Our goal is clear: achieve a good position in qualifying.”
Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM #55: “It was an overwhelming experience to see so many people along the streets in Spa again after the difficult time in the past two years. We are all highly motivated for the race and we are delighted that the real on-track action finally starts with the practice and qualifying sessions.”
Jules Gounon, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP #88: “The parade in Spa, that is motorsport up close. You are right there amidst the fans! Today, we were out on track for the first time, the track having been slightly modified. To me, it is even more challenging now. You have to be really careful and I guess it can hardly be avoided that gravel is put on the track over and over again. Observing the track limits will be a bit more difficult this year as well. But we are well prepared and we will do our utmost for a successful race without incidents.”