Not long to go now: The Total 24 Hours of Spa (25th – 28th July) counts as one of Europe’s biggest and most prestigious endurance races. R-Motorsport will be contesting the standout fixture of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup with three cars.
The team based in Niederwil near Sankt Gallen in Switzerland will be fielding two Aston Martin Vantage GT3s in the Pro category. Car number 76 will be driven by its regular crew of Jake Dennis, Marvin Kirchhöfer and Alex Lynn. R-Motorsport will send Matt Parry and Matthieu Vaxivière into the race at the wheel of the number 62 car. The Brit and the Frenchman will be sharing the cockpit with Maxime Martin, who is looking forward to his home race in Belgium.
“The anticipation is huge, but it’s not going to be an easy task,” says local favourite Martin. “We’re expecting it to be yet another tough battle. The only way to be in contention for the top positions is to avoid making any mistakes over the entire distance and to have a perfect strategy. There are a number of special challenges to master here, such as the dense traffic and the changing light conditions over a single lap.”
Meanwhile, Ferdinand von Habsburg, Ricky Collard, Aaro Vainio and Hugo de Sadeleer in the number 762 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 will be aiming to lift the Silver Cup. Vainio and de Sadeleer recently impressed with a strong performance in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. This well-attuned duo notched up two victories at Zandvoort in the Silver Cup, the classification reserved for Junior drivers.
In previous rounds of the Endurance Cup at Monza, Silverstone and Le Castellet, the team has been consistently strong on pace, but the races have only partially gone to plan. Hopefully, though, that’s about to change: R-Motorsport will be aiming to repeat their success in last year’s 24-hour race on the roller-coaster through the Ardennes forest when they booked pole position and finished in the Top Ten on their Spa-Francorchamps debut.
Dr Florian Kamelger, Team Principal: “The whole world regards the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps as the highlight of the GT3 calendar. For the victorious team, winning this classic is equivalent to getting a knighthood. As on our debut last year when we started from pole position and our best-placed and most reliable Aston Martin Vantage GT3 V12 finished in ninth place, we would obviously like to be contenders for a top spot again this year. As a boost to our chances, we are fielding three Aston Martin Vantage GT3 V8s this time. Two of the cars have been entered in the Pro category, and with the third car, we’re aiming for success in the Silver Cup. As Team R-Motorsport, we are well prepared, but we know from our experience last year that even the best strategy can be quickly undone by the many imponderables of such a long race and that fast responses and an ability to improvise will be called for again and again. All of us in the team are looking forward to the challenges of this very special GT3 long-distance contest in the Ardennes.”
Key facts at a glance
Contestants: 2019 sees the 71st running of the 24-hour classic. The Blancpain GT Series has set a record even before this year’s event has begun: with 73 GT cars on the starting grid, it is bigger than ever before. All the cars in the line-up are assigned to different classes based on driver ratings. The number 76 and number 62 Aston Martin Vantage GT3s are up against some formidable opposition of more than 30 cars. 13 cars will be competing in the Silver Cup.
Points scoring system: The number of points up for grabs is greater than for other races during the season. At the end of the first six hours and of the first half of the race, the Top 9 in each class are awarded bonus points (12, 9, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1). At the end of the race, the usual points system applies. i.e. 25 for the winner down to 1 for the car in tenth position.
Qualifying: The race (starting Saturday at 16:30 CEST) is preceded by a special qualifying procedure. The 60-minute pre-qualifying is held early on Thursday evening. After that come the actual qualis which are contested in four sessions, each with a different driver taking the wheel. The best time is calculated as an average of all four driver’s fastest lap.
On Friday, the Top 20 drivers compete for the front grid positions in a ‘Superpole’ session. Each of them has two timed laps to get the most out of him or herself and the car. An additional championship point is awarded to the pole-sitter.
Broadcast: A live stream of the entire 24 hours of Spa-Francorchamps will be shown on the official website of the Blancpain GT Series at https://www.blancpain-gt-series.com.