This weekend sees the 70th running of the 24 Hours of Spa at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Four Porsche 911 GT3 R race cars will contest what is regarded as one of Europe’s major long-distance classics.
Spa marks round two of the Intercontinental GT Challenge and the fourth race of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. Porsche supports four customer teams with works drivers and engineers at the race on 28-29 July. Tackling the event are the two Porsche teams from the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, Manthey-Racing and Herberth Motorsport, as well as the KÜS Team75 Bernhard and Black Swan Racing squads.
Six current works drivers as well as the former factory driver and the current head of Porsche Customer Racing, Marc Lieb, form the driver crews in the four ca. 500 hp customer racers. For the marathon race in Belgium, 68 cars from 13 marques are entered. In addition to the 64 vehicles that comply with the FIA GT3 regulations, four other vehicles are registered, including three Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
The cockpits of the two 911 GT3 R entered in the pro-driver category are shared exclusively by works drivers: Competing for Manthey-Racing are the regular drivers in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, Romain Dumas, Frédéric Makowiecki (both France) and Dirk Werner (Germany).
The car run by KÜS Team75 Bernhard is shared by the two former Le Mans overall winners Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) as well as the Le Mans class winner Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium).
“I’m looking forward to driving for Timo’s squad, with which I began my career in Europe in the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland,” commented Bamber. “Now he’s a driver and with Laurens we should make a strong trio. The test day prior to the race was promising, so I hope we can bring home a podium result.”
The two American drivers Tim Pappas and Marc Miller join forces with Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands) to contest the Pro-Am class for Black Swan Racing. They will be supported by Marc Lieb, who was part of the team at the first race of the Intercontinental GT Challenge at Bathurst, Australia, in February. Herberth Motorsport’s 911 GT3 R is piloted by Jürgen Häring, Edward-Lewis Brauner, Wolfgang Triller and Alfred Renauer. The four Germans will tackle the amateur category for gentleman drivers. With Dumas, Lieb and Vanthoor, there are three drivers in the Porsche squad that have already scored overall victory at Spa.
First contested in 1924, the Spa 24-hour race is just one year younger than the legendary long-distance classic at Le Mans. The last overall victory for Porsche in the Ardennes was achieved in 2010 with Romain Dumas, Jörg Bergmeister, Wolf Henzler and Martin Ragginger in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by the BMS Scuderia Italia team.
Since 2011, the event on the 7.004-kilometre Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps has represented a highlight on the international GT3 calendar. The presentation of the race cars on Wednesday in a motorcade from the racetrack to the town of Spa has become legendary. The race takes off on Saturday at 16.30 hours.