Bentley Primed for World's Biggest GT3 Race at Spa
Two generations of Bentley Continental GT3 will take on the biggest GT3 race in the world this weekend (July 24-29) as Bentley Team M-Sport brings a pair of new-for-2018 models in search of overall victory, and Team Parker Racing enters the highly-competitive Pro-Am class with a first generation car.
The historic Belgian event, which celebrates its 70th running this year, is not only the world’s biggest standalone GT3 race, but also a round of both the Intercontinental GT Challenge and Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, the latter of which will be awarding additional points towards its overall Drivers’ and Teams’ championships.
It’s also a race Bentley Team M-Sport has come close to winning for the past two years. That was especially true 12 months ago when Andy Soucek (ES), Maxime Soulet (BE) and Vincent Abril (MC) – who are once again partnered in the team’s #8 entry – finished less than 12 seconds behind the winners.
Incidentally, one of the drivers who pipped Bentley to victory last season – Jules Gounon (FR) – returns to the event this weekend as a Bentley Works driver alongside his #7 team-mates Steven Kane (GB) and Jordan Pepper (ZA).
The 24 Hours of Spa couldn’t have come at a better time for Bentley Team M-Sport after the new-for-2018 Continental GT3 claimed a maiden podium last time out at Paul Ricard in the hands of Gounon, Kane and Pepper.
As well providing a suitable test of the new car’s capabilities, it also highlights the strengths of its predecessor, which will be aiming for Pro/Am glory in the hands of Team Parker Racing’s Rob Smith, Derek Pierce, Seb Morris and Andy Meyrick. The latter re-joins the outfit as an additional driver this weekend but also raced the same first-generation Continental GT3 at Spa for Bentley Team M-Sport in 2014 and ’15, as well as with Team Parker two years ago.
The five-day event features several additional elements that underline its status as the world’s biggest GT3 race. The Bronze driver test takes place on Tuesday before the traditional parade and driver autograph session sees all 60+ entries drive from the circuit into Spa-Francorchamps town centre via public roads.
On Thursday, the serious work begins with practice – including a night session – and qualifying, before Super Pole decides the grid on Friday ahead of Saturday and Sunday’s main event. All sessions, along with live timing, will be streamed live on Blancpain GT Series’ Facebook page and website, as well as SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.
24 Hours of Spa - Timetable
14:55 - 17:55
Bronze Test (Team Parker only)
18:00 - 21:30
Town Centre Parade
11:45 - 13:15
Free Practice 1
18:10 - 19:10
20:50 – 21:05
21:12 – 21:27
21:34 – 21:49
21:56 – 22:11
22:30 – 00:00
17:45 – 18:15
18:30 – 19:00
28th - 29th July
16:30 – 16:30
70th edition of the 24 Hours of Spa