This year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa is set to run with 68 cars, SRO revealing the full list of entrants during today’s pre-event Test Day.
The list is once again huge, and features 30 Pro cars, 16 Pro-Am cars, nine in the Silver and Am Cup and four in the Groupe National category. In what is a new record for the GT3 era of the Spa 24, 13 manufacturers are represented up and down the order.
Aston Martin (V12 Vantage GT3) 4 entries: 2 Pro | 1 Silver Cup | 1 Pro-Am
Aston Martin returns to the Pro category at this year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa thanks to a two-car effort from Swiss outfit R-Motorsport, with an accomplished roster of drivers set to pilot their ageing but still capable V12 Vantages, which includes AMR factory men Nicki Thiim and Maxime Martin.
It’s set to be a big meeting for the team, which won at Silverstone in its second-ever Blancpain Endurance race, with a mildly tweaked line-up that sees Alex Brundle out and Dominik Baumann in. Any success here would serve as a table-setter for the new Vantage’s debut in 2019.
Brundle has explained to DSC that he is sitting out the Spa 24 Hours this year to focus on an unannounced 2019 project with the team, and was keen to make it clear that he is still very much a part of the effort!
There is further representation for the British Brand too, in the Silver Cup category, where the Oman Racing with TF Sport squad will field their full-season V12 Vantage, as well as a one-off Pro-Am entry from Brussels Racing.
Audi (R8 LMS) 10 entries: 7 Pro | 1 Silver Cup | 1 Pro-Am | 1 Am Cup
Reigning Spa 24 Hours winner Audi is back again in 2018 and searching for its fifth overall win with a huge 10-car entry, seven of which are in the Pro class.
The German brand has committed three factory-backed R8s – including defending winners Sainteloc Racing – and one-off outings for the likes of Rene Rast and Marcel Fassler. WRT is of course present too, with a trio of Pro class entries that feature the likes of Dries Vanthoor, Rene Rast and Robin Frijns in the squad. And Former Nurburgring 24 winner Land Motorsport is also part of the Audi effort in the Pro class.
It’s an impressive line-up this year for Audi, which includes Spa-winning teams, and five past Spa-winning drivers.
Three additional cars are also listed, one apiece in Pro-Am, and the Silver and Am Cups.
Bentley (Continental GT3) 3 entries: 2 Pro | 1 Pro-Am
Back again, hoping to finally score that illusive-Spa 24 win it’s been working so hard for recently, Bentley brings a pair of new Continental GT3s to the Spa 24 Hours, with its full factory crew.
Stephen Kane, Jordan Pepper, Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet, Vincent Abril and Jules Gounon make up the team, which will race at Spa for the first time with the Continental without newly-retired ace Guy Smith, and hope that the first overall win for the new car will come at Spa.
Bentley will also be represented in the Pro-Am category, where Team Parker Racing’s regular line-up of Seb Morris, Derek Pierce and (2017 Le Mans class winner) Rob Smith will be joined by the experienced hand of Andy Meyrick.
BMW (M6 GT3) 4 entries: 3 Pro | 1 Am Cup
23-time Spa 24 winner BMW, the most successful marque in the history of the race, will race with just four cars in the field this year, all of them M6 GT3s.
Three of the four are in the Pro class. ROWE Racing will run a pair of M6s (no drivers have been confirmed yet), the third from N24/VLN regular Walkenhorst Motorsport with a strong driver crew of Christian Krognes, and BMW factory men Tom Blomqvist and Philipp Eng.
Jaguar (XK G3) 1 entry in Silver Cup
Emil Frey’s Spa 24 Hours effort is three-cars strong, but with two brands. While most eyes will focus on the pair of Lexus RCF GT3s it will run for the first time at the 24 Hours, its Silver Cup Jaguar still warrants some attention.
The car will be driven by Alex Fontana, Adrian Zaugg and Mikael Grenier, and should be among the favourites to win the Silver Cup class in the race. For the Jag, which has been improved upon year-after-year but hasn’t had the best record at Spa, could this year be a breakthrough performance? The car has again shown speed this season, leading the race at Monza, and if it can stay reliable could feature very high up the order at Spa indeed.
Ferrari (488 GT3) 8 entries: 1 Pro | 5 Pro-Am | 2 Am Cup
Eight Ferraris will race at Spa this year, but only one of them will compete for overall honours in the Pro category. The Pro car will be run by long-standing Russian team SMP Racing, with a head-turning trio of current FIA WEC pilots Miguel Molina, Davide Rigon and Mikhail Aleshin behind the wheel.
The remaining 488 GT3s will compete in Pro-Am and Am, five of them in the former, making the Italian marque the best represented in the field. AF Corse will be there, (watch out for the Matt Griffin/Duncan Cameron/Rino Mastronardi/Aaron Scott combo), as will Rinaldi Racing.
Giancarlo Fisichella and reigning FIA WEC GTE Pro World Champion Alessandro Pier Guidi will also feature here, with 961 Corse and Kessel Racing respectively.
Honda (NSX GT3) 1 entry in Pro-Am
18 years on from its last Spa 24 appearance, Honda is back, with a JAS Motorsport-run NSX GT3, set to make its Blancpain GT and European 24-hour race debut at the event, as part of a push from the brand’s customer programme.
The car will compete in the Pro-Am class, with newly announced drivers Bertrand Baguette and Esteban Guerrieri. While there’s no official word, the Am portion of the car’s driver roster looks set to feature none other than ex-F1 driver Riccardo Patrese and Loic Depailler, according to Belgian outlet DH! This will be a very interesting entry to follow, and surely a fan favourite with its Castrol-livery.
Lamborghini (Huracan GT3 & Super Trofeo) 11 entries: 3 Pro | 3 Silver Cup | 2 Pro-Am | 2 Am Cup | 1 Groupe National
Having clinched the Endurance Cup and overall Blancpain GT Series titles in 2017, Lamborghini will now look to conquer the Total 24 Hours of Spa for the first time, building on the Huarcan’s big win at the Rolex 24 earlier this year, which proved the car’s capability in long races.
The Italian marque’s Pro class assault will be led by Grasser Racing Team, which will field its three full-season Huracan GT3s. The brand is further represented in the Silver Cup, Pro-Am and Am Cup classes, while one of its Super Trofeo machines will compete in the Groupe National category courtesy of GDL Motorsport (adding further variety to the field).
Notably, Lamborghini is the only brand present in every class at this year’s race.
Lexus (RC F GT3) 2 entries in Pro
Fresh from a big win in the Paul Ricard 1000km last month, Emil Frey will head to Spa full of confidence that its Lexus RCF GT3 can deliver the goods in its first year of Blancpain competition.
The team will race with a serious, experienced line-up for its pair of Pro-class cars, with Albert Costa, Marco Seefried and Christian Klien in one and Markus Paltalla, Norbert Siedler and Stephane Ortelli in the other. It will be interesting to see what the Swiss team can achieve here.
McLaren (650 S GT3) 2 entries: 1 Pro | 1 Am Cup
After a tough run with Strakka Racing last year at Spa (and throughout the season), former Blancpain Endurance champion again Garage 59 takes the reigns as the McLaren team racing in the Pro class.
The #58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3 led for much of the Circuit Paul Ricard 1000km before eventually securing a podium finish. With that result adding to their confidence, Come Ledogar, McLaren Automotive factory driver Ben Barnicoat and Andrew Watson will be targeting a big result at Spa.
Garage 59 will also race a second 650S GT3 in Am, Chris Harris, Alexander West and Chris Goodwin heading into the Spa 24 as the class favourite after back-to-back Am Cup wins at Silverstone.
Mercedes-AMG (AMG GT3) 13 entries: 6 Pro | 2 Silver Cup | 4 Pro-Am | 1 Am Cup
Mercedes-AMG is the brand with the most cars racing at the Spa 24 Hours this year, with 13 AMG GT3s entered across three classes, six of them in the Pro class and gunning for the German marque’s first win since 2013.
Mercedes’ Pro-class contingent features four factory-backed efforts, including the Mann-Filter HTP Motorsport machine of former DTM champ Gary Paffett, Edoardo Mortara and Renger van der Zande.
Former F1 driver Rubens Barrichello will make his Total 24 Hours of Spa debut, driving one of Strakka Racing’s four Mercedes, the British crew running an ambitious programme this year in Blancpain and the IGTC. Strakka has now truly settled into racing GT3 cars, and after coming close to winning the Bathurst 12 Hour at the start of the year, will hope its form in big races continues at Spa, in what will be its second start in the race.
Nissan (GT-R NISMO GT3) 2 entries: 1 Pro | 1 Silver Cup
GT Sport Motul Team RJN is another outfit fielding a new car in this year’s Spa 24. The team will race a single 2018 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in the Pro class with Lucas Ordonez, Alex Buncombe and Matt Parry handling driving duties. The car has yet to show its true potential, but with BoP often the deciding factor, could the Spa 24 Hours be the race in which the car claims a big result?
RJN will also race with its full-season Silver Cup, older GT-R GT3 of Struan Moore (who’s has been impressive all year), Ricardo Sanchez and Jordan Witt.
Porsche (911 GT3 R & 991 Cup) 7 entries: 2 Pro | 1 Pro-Am | 1 Am Cup | 3 Groupe National
Porsche’s hopes of a seventh victory at Spa lie with a pair of impressive factory-backed Pro entries. The full-season Manthey Racing 911 GT3 R leads the line, coming off an impressive win at the Nurburgring 24 this year. Two-time Spa winner and new Pikes Peak record holder Romain Dumas will drive with Fred Makoweicki and Dirk Werner for Olaf Manthey’s team.
They will be joined by a KÜS Team75 Bernhard Porsche, the team back for a second crack at the race after finishing an impressive fourth in its Spa 24 debut last year. Driving the team’s car will be Timo Bernhard, Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber.
Porsche also dominates the Groupe National class, with three of its 991 Cup machines among the four-car field and will also likely feature high-up the order in the Pro-Am and Am classes with Black Swan Racing and Herberth Motorsport respectively.
This year’s Spa 24, the 70th running, is set to get underway from 16.30 CET on Saturday 28 July.