TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa glory up for grabs in ultra-competitive class battles

TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa glory up for grabs in ultra-competitive class battles

27.07.2021: • Silver Cup reaches new heights as field grows to record-breaking 17 cars • Strong entry list in Pro-Am with 14 crews chasing twice-around-the-clock victory • Porsche squads set for Am Cup duel in the Ardennes


•    Silver Cup reaches new heights as field grows to record-breaking 17 cars

•    Strong entry list in Pro-Am with 14 crews chasing twice-around-the-clock victory

•    Porsche squads set for Am Cup duel in the Ardennes
 

 

The battle for overall victory generates the most attention, but multi-class racing is a crucial aspect of the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.


While 25 cars will run in the Pro category, a further 33 will compete across the Silver Cup, Pro-Am and Am Cup classes. In each case, the competition can become fierce. Indeed, after such a gruelling contest, the podium champagne tastes just as sweet no matter what category you have raced in.  



With the main event now just a few days away, here are the teams and drivers looking to become class winners in 2021.



Silver Cup reaches new heights for marquee race



A 17-car field will tackle the Silver Cup this year, the biggest since the class was introduced in 2018. Lamborghini squad Emil Frey Racing heads into the event as favourite with its #14 crew of Feller/Fontana/Ineichen following a superb start to 2021. At the season-opening trip to Monza they became the first Silver line-up to score an overall Endurance Cup podium and their blend of speed and experience should place them at sharp end again.



Lamborghini can rely on two more squads as it shoots for a third Silver Cup win in four years. Grasser Racing returns with its full-season crew of Schmid/Zimmermann/Galbiati, who are joined by Alberto Di Folco for the big event. VS Racing is a new addition to the field and will rely on the quartet of Van Berlo/Moulin/Nemoto/Rump as it makes its Ardennes debut.


With six cars running for class honours, no brand can lay claim to as many Silver Cup entries as Mercedes-AMG. Last year's winner HRT should be in contention once again, with the returning Hubert Haupt and Gabriele Piana joined by experienced long-distance racers Patrick Assenheimer and Indy Dontje.


AKKA ASP is also a serious challenger with its #87 crew of Gachet/Tereschenko/Drouet, which won last time out at Circuit Paul Ricard and is reinforced by Petru Umbrarescu. Winward Racing has shown front-running speed with Ward/Grenier/Ellis at the wheel of its #57 entry, while there is vast endurance expertise among the #90 Madpanda Motorsport quartet of Perez Companc/Sanchez/Kujala/Breukers.


The impressive Mercedes-AMG contingent is completed by efforts from Toksport WRT (Tunjo/Petit/Dienst/Besler) and SPS Automotive Performance (Mettler/Love/Born/Arnold), both of which can play a part at the front of the pack. Clearly, Mercedes-AMG has the numerical advantage in this fight.


Audi looks strong too, with its Silver Cup representation coming from the same three squads that will lead the brand's Pro effort. Team WRT's two-cars squad features a mixture of young talents and experienced drivers, with Pull/Goethe/Colapinto sharing the #30 machine and Tomita/Bird/Eriksen in the #31 Audi.


The #27 Saintéloc Racing entry sees the team's regular Sprint Cup drivers Aurélien Panis and Alexandre Cougnaud joined by newcomers Lucas Légeret and Louis Prette, the latter making his TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa debut. The same will be true of Fabien Lavergne, who joins Alex Aka and Max Hofer in the #99 Attempto Racing machine.



Garage 59 has its full-season crew of Kjaergaard/MacDowall/Hasse Clot in the #159 Aston Martin, while its regular Sprint Cup pilot Tuomas Tujula joins for the marquee race. CMR is set to fly the Bentley flag with its #107 Continental and will combine young racers Pierre-Alexandre Jean, Stuart White and Ulysse de Pauw with the experienced Nelson Panciatici.  


Rinaldi Racing has already secured Pro-Am and Am honours in the Ardennes and will seek to add a Silver triumph with the crew of Hites/Crestani/Perel, the latter of whom could become the first driver to win three different GT3 classes. Finally, Team Allied-Racing will field the #222 Porsche for Apothéloz/Kern/ Santamato/Buus. The latter only celebrated his 18th birthday in June and will make his TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa debut after clinching last year’s GT4 European Series Pro-Am title with Allied-Racing.







Pro-Am class back to fiercely competitive best



The Pro-Am class looks set to be highly competitive this year, with a field of 14 cars representing the biggest entry since 2017. Ferrari leads the way with four of its 488 GT3 models, which should be no surprise given the Italian marque's record of six victories during the past decade.


Leading customer squad AF Corse will deploy two cars, both featuring past winners: the #52 sees longstanding crew-mates Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini joined by Lorenzo Bontempelli and Ferrari factory ace James Calado, while it's a similar story in the #53 as Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin add Rino Mastronardi and Maranello ace Miguel Molina.  



Kessel Racing returns to the event and will hope to rediscover the form that earned the Swiss squad back-to-back Am Cup wins in 2016/2017. This year, its full-season trio of Kohmann/Zollo/Roda is reinforced by David Fumanelli. Sky Tempesta Racing also sticks with its proven line-up of Hui/Froggatt/Cheever, while Ferrari ace Matteo Cressoni joins for the journey into the Ardennes.



While the Ferrari contingent is impressive, Lamborghini squad Barwell Motorsport is arguably favourite to take victory having won three different classes in as many years. Leo Machitski and Sandy Mitchell have each earned two of those and link up with the full-season pairing of Ramos/Chaves for the main event. A further Lamborghini comes from Orange1 FFF Racing, which pairs established crew-mates Hamaguchi/Keen with Stefano Costantini and local expert Bertrand Baguette.


Third in Pro-Am last season and subsequently class champion in the Endurance Cup, Garage 59 should also be a serious contender. The full-season pairing of West/Goodwin will go for glory once again and are strengthened by Marvin Kirchhöfer and works driver Charlie Eastwood. Inception Racing has looked fast with its McLaren and can count on the guidance of local expert Bas Leinders, while on the driving front the established duo of Iribe/Millroy are joined by former Bentley ace Jordan Pepper and American first-timer Kevin Madsen.



As one of two Belgian squads competing in the country's premier endurance race, Boutsen Ginion places significant importance on its performance at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa. Carrying a striking livery inspired by the legendary Michel Vaillant comic book series, the full-season crew of Ojjeh/Liebhauser/Klingmann will be joined by newcomer Yann Zimmer.


A trio of Mercedes-AMG entries will further bolster the class. Last year, Rob and Ricky Collard became the race’s first father-son winners by taking Pro-Am honours for Barwell Motorsport. This time they will look to repeat the achievement at RAM Racing, where they partner Sam de Haan and Fabian Schiller.



Best known as a member of various AKKA ASP programmes, Jim Pla swaps team but sticks with the German brand to join the established GetSpeed line-up of Grotz/Scholze/Bastian. SPS Automotive Performance retains its 2020 crew, with the full-season duo of Pierburg/Baumann joined by American racers Colin Braun and George Kurtz.



A pair of one-off Porsche entries complete the Pro-Am field. Herberth Motorsport and its drivers are all experienced competitors, with twins Alfred and Robert Renauer joined by Antares Au and Daniel Allemann. EBM Giga Racing is set for its first start, though co-founder Earl Bamber knows a thing or two about mastering Spa-Francorchamps. His brother and fellow team boss Will Bamber shares driving duties with Adrian Henry D' Silva, Reid Harker and Carlos Rivas.



Porsche squads go head-to-head for Am Cup glory



A pair of Porsche squads will battle for Am Cup glory at this year's TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa. Huber Motorsport will field its #23 machine for Nicolas Leutwiler Jacob Schell, Nico Menzel and Ivan Jacoma, with only the latter having previous experience of the event.



The rival Hägeli by T2 Racing squad can draw upon the knowledge of 2019 class winner Manuel Lauck, while crew-mate Marc Basseng has also turned plenty of laps at Spa. Dennis Busch and Pieder Decurtins complete the #166 car's line-up.



As always, the battle for class honours will form part of the event’s extensive live online coverage. Available with either French or English commentary, free-to-view options will be available through the usual variety of platforms, including the official website and Facebook page and on the GT World YouTube channels. With each class sure to provide its fair share of heartbreak and glory, this year’s TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa promises to be another gripping contest from start to finish.





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Adelheid Terryn  photo bygigis.com

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27.07.2021 / MaP

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