Four Porsche 911 GT3 R race cars will contest the 70th running of the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Regarded as one of Europe’s major long-distance classics alongside the 24-hour races of Le Mans and the Nürburgring, 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, 65 cars from 13 marques are entered.
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.
The Porsche drivers
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). 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.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R
The 911 GT3 R was designed by Porsche for worldwide GT3 series. Mounted with the ultra-modern, four-litre flat-six engine with direct fuel injection, the 368 kW (500 hp) customer sports racer celebrated its race debut in January 2016 at the Daytona 24-hour race. Since then, it has notched up victories in numerous international racing series, such as the IMSA SportsCar Championship, the World Challenge, the ADAC GT Masters, as well as the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. For 2018, Porsche offers its customer teams an evo-kit.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser (Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars): “The level of competition in both the Intercontinental GT Challenge and the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup is extremely tough. With 68 cars on the grid, Spa is not only impressive in its number of starters, it’s also a veritable Who’s Who of GT racing. Of course a lot can happen during a 24-hour race, but as we underlined at the Nürburgring and in Le Mans, we’re very strong in the particularly long races. With two pro-cars competing we expect to have good chances. It would be great to celebrate another victory with the latest 911 GT3 R. To be well positioned for the next few years, the test work with the new car for 2019 is running at full revs.”
Romain Dumas (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “I’m excited to be back at the 24 Hours of Spa this year. The 2010 win was my second after 2003 when we beat the competition in a higher class in the rain. What helped us back then can help us again this time: With its rear engine, the Porsche performs strongly in the wet, and it rains a lot at Spa.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #117): “Thanks to my overall victory here in 2014, I have wonderful memories of Spa. Last year I competed with Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen in Timo Bernhard’s Porsche. We came fourth. At the beginning of the race we were handed a penalty, but managed to make up the lost time over the distance. In this respect, as long as we don’t make mistakes we should be able to fight for victory.”
Marc Lieb (Porsche 911 GT3 R #540): “It’s going to be incredibly close at Spa – we’ve witnessed this in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup races. To be competitive here, you have to get the most out of your car. Therefore, an optimal setup is critical. I know Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen well, and with Marc Miller we now have a fast ‘bronze’ driver in our crew. Our aim is to race for victory in the Pro-Am class.
(press release Porsche)