This weekend is the 24 hours of Spa and we on this Bentley blog couldn’t be more excited. There will be 4 Bentley Continental GT3s in the field for the event. Two of the entries will be the #7 and #8 Works cars in their white livery. The other two are the HTP #83 and #84 pictured above in new black and red liveries.
The 24 Hours of Spa is one of three major endurance races of the season. It ranks at the top of sports car and endurance racing fan’s lists along with the 24 hours of Le Mans and 24 hour of Nürburgring. Perhaps not as famous as Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Spa started the year after Le Mans did and has been run with a couple breaks since 1923. It’s held in Belgium at the 14km Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps which is a fan favorite because of its high speeds and changes in elevation.
The factory Bentley Team M-Sport #7 will be driven by the British trio of Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane. The #8 Continental GT3 will be driven by Maxi Buhk, Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet. Joining the Works cars in the Pro class is the #84 Continental GT3 from HTP Motorsport. The Red Rocket will be driven by Vincent Abril, Harold Primat and Mike Parisy. The black Continental GT3 from HTP is entered in the Pro Am class and will be driven by Fabian Hamprecht, Clemens Schmid, Max Splunteren and Louis Machiels.
The race is part of the Blancpain Endurance Series and has major points implications for the championship. Unlike some of the BES’s shorter races, points will be handed out at Spa at the six, 12 and 24 hour marks. The large number of points has made this race the focal point of Bentley’s season.
Both teams are looking to improve upon their performance at Nürburgring earlier this year where the stunning green #85 works car didn’t finish and the other two entries fared worse than they would’ve liked. Last year, Bentley Team M-Sport ran two cars at Spa and finished ninth and eleventh in class.
Discussing the importance of Spa, Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush, said, “The 24 Hours of Spa is the biggest race of the season for us, and we’re hoping to be able to fight for a top five finish this year. We know from last year that the car is quick at Spa, especially in the dry, and it’s vital for our championship challenge that we do well here. Given our very encouraging position in both the teams and drivers championships, and the number of points available here, the whole team is absolutely focused on delivering a great result this weekend.”
The drivers have been focused on this since last year’s event. Steven Kane said that in the offseason, this is the race that drove him to push his body. “This is the biggest GT race in the world and this year I believe we will be right at the sharp end, and in a good position to achieve a great result at what is one of the world’s toughest race tracks,” said Kane.
The M-Sport team tested at Spa in June and had a good performance at the 1000km Paul Ricard race, which was a timed six hour event seen as a primer for this weekend.
Spa will be the second 24-hour race for Bentley Team HTP, after the team scored a great top-ten finished in their first 24-hour enduro at the Nürburgring.
It’s great to have an experienced driver like Louis onboard for Spa“, Bentley Team HTP team principal Norbert Brückner says. „The competition in the top class at Spa gets stronger each year, but we recently showed a great performance at Le Castellet and the 24h Nürburgring proved that we have a great endurance car. We have a strong driver line up and I hope we will be able to fight for the podium in both classes until the final hour.”
HTP is an experience endurance racing team, despite not being formally entered in the Blancpain Endurance Series this season. They are running Bentleys in the ADAC GT Masters series in Europe and in the Blancpain Sprint Series, where they recently won at Moscow. Bentley Team HTP hopes to build on their top ten performance at Nürburgring where they showed they have the pace to content for the win.
Vincent Abril will be one of the drivers to watch. Driving the red car, he has been very fast in the Bentley this season, but this is his first 24hour event. Asked about the event, Abril said, “Spa will be my first 24-hour race, so I’m very excited. The competition has as never been stronger at Spa, it’s a big challenge for the team and the drivers.”
Regarding the challenges of a 24 hour race, Abril said, “In the endurance rounds earlier this season luck was not on our side, thus our premier goal is to finish the race. If we make it to the chequered flag, I’m sure we will achieve a good result as the last races showed that we have the pace.”
Following The Action
Bentley will have a hospitality tent there, which is great experience if you have the opportunity. The hospitality program is sold out for the event, which includes Bentley’s customer bringing out their cars for an on-track parade just before the start of the race.
The 24 hours of Spa start Saturday, 25th July at 16:30 hours local time. A live stream is available at www.blancpain-gt-series.com and the ever-entertaining radio-lemans.com. You can follow The Pursuit on Twitter @crewecraft and on Facebook for updates. Bentley themselves will be tweeting from the @BentleyComms account.