With the Official Test Day for the 2016 Total 24 Hours of Spa taking place on Tuesday July 5th, the entry list for the blue riband event of the Blancpain GT Series and Intercontinental GT Challenge is 65 cars strong. The best GT drivers in the world will be behind the wheel, confirming that the Belgian endurance classic is and remains a highlight in international motorsport.
With an unprecedented 29 cars entered in the Overall category, it is clear that the battle for victory in the Ardennes will be fiercer than ever before. Several teams have added an extra car to their line-up, most of them with factory backing. Audi Sport supports both one Team Phoenix and two Team WRT cars, with one of the latter (the #28) will see former winners Laurens Vanthoor and René Rast share the car with Nico Müller. With the elder of the Vanthoor brothers at the wheel of the #28, this means that the usual line-up of the #1 car will change: Will Stevens will share that R8 LMS with Dries Vanthoor and Fred Vervisch. Frank Stippler will join Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Mies on the #6 Audi Sport Team Phoenix R8, Stippi's place on the #75 ISR Audi being taken by Italian driver Edoardo Mortara. With Saintéloc Racing entering one car with an all-Pro line-up as well, this means that there will be eight Audi R8 LMS in the Overall category, making it the best represented make in the class.
It is also two more than the number of Mercedes-AMG in the category. Of those six cars, five are AMG supported: two at AMG-Team Black Falcon, two at AMG-Team HTP Motorsport and one for AMG-Team AKKA-ASP. On the latter regular Sprint Cup duo Felix Rosenqvist and Tristan Vautier will be joined by Renger van der Zande, while Maro Engel joins former Spa winner Bernd Schneider and Yelmer Buurman on the #00 AMG-Team Black Falcon car. On the #86 AMG-Team HTP Motorsport car, Thomas Jäger will be joined by two current DTM drivers: Spa-newbie Gary Paffett and 2013 winner Maxi Götz.
Lamborghini squads Grasser Racing Team and Attempto Racing will use their regular endurance line-up, as will Bentley Team M-Sport, Ferrari squad AF Corse and Nissan GT Academy Team RJN. At ROWE Racing last year's winner Nick Catsburg will join fellow Dutchman Stef Dusseldorp and Dirk Werner on the #98 BMW M6 GT3 while #99 squad Alexander Sims and Philipp Eng will get the help of Maxime Martin.
Emil Frey Racing brings not one but two Jaguars to Spa, with another driver of last year's winning trio - Markus Palttala - sharing the #114 car with Jonathan Hirschi and former F1-driver (and Spa 24 Hours rookie) Christian Klien. There will be one extra car at Garage 59 as well, with Bruno Senna, Duncan Tappy and 2016 Daytona 24h and Sebring 12h-winner Pipo Derani at the wheel of the #60 McLaren.
In the 25-car strong Pro-Am Cup, some experienced endurance drivers join the regular Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup drivers. Darren Turner will be at the wheel of the #44 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin, while double winner Fred Bouvy will be one of the drivers on the #25 Saintéloc Racing Audi. Nicolas Lapierre, on the #75 ISR R8 LMS, joins the ranks of Audi-drivers as well.
Andy Meyrick makes his Blancpain GT Series comeback on the #24 Team Parker Racing Bentley, as does Kevin Estre on the #77 Attempto Racing Porsche. There will be plenty of factory drivers in the Pro-Am Cup as well, with Martin Tomczyk (#15 BMW Team Italia M6) and Patrick Pilet (#76 IMSA Performance) among them. Oliver Gavin joins the line-up of the #666 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini.
New teams and familiar faces alike have decided to aim for Pro-Am Cup honours in Spa: Australian Lamborghini-squad Lago Racing will be making their second outing to the Belgian Ardennes, while there will be two new Ferrari cars as well: the #55 AF Corse 458 and the #80 Easy Race 488, with former F1 driver Andrea Montermini among their drivers.
Plenty of Prancing Horses in the Am Cup too: no fewer than six Ferraris will take the start in the Am Cup, but the Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini squads are sure to give them a hard time. The Cup class has two Porsche 991 GT3 Cup cars in it, entered by Belgian squad Speedlover and by Swiss team RMS.
Eleven cars competing for the Intercontinental GT Challenge
The Total 24 Hours of Spa is also the second round of the inaugural Intercontinental GT Challenge. Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hours winners McLaren will defend their lead in the only global GT competition with three Garage 59 cars, battling against three Audi (both Audi Sport Team WRT and the single Audi Sport Team Phoenix cars), the two Bentley Team M-Sport Continental, and the Mercedes-AMG of AMG-Team Black Falcon (#00), AMG-Team HTP Motorsport (#84 and #86) and the AMG-Team AKKA-ASP (#88). In the driver standings Shane Van Gisbergen is the only driver of the Bathurst winning McLaren who will be at the start in Spa.
The Total 24 Hours of Spa action starts on Tuesday July 26th with the Bronze test.
Useful information - Total 24 Hours of Spa
When: 26th – 31st July 2016
Tickets : from 15 €
General Entrance : 30 € (includes free entrance on Thursday and Friday)
General Entrance + paddock : 60 €
Children aged 12 or under, accompanied by an adult, enter for free
Sales on: www.24hoursofspa and www.ticketmaster.be
Tuesday July 26th
Bronze test 15:00 – 18:00
Wednesday July 27th
Parade Spa 16:00
Autograph session 17:00-18 :00
Thursday July 28th
Free Practice 13:20-14:50
Night Qualifying 21:45-23:45
Friday July 29th
Super Pole 17:30-18:00
Saturday July 30th
Warm Up 09:05-09:25
Starting procedure & Grid walk 15:40-16:30
Start of the Total 24 hours of Spa 16:30
Information & reservation : www.24hoursofspa.com / www.blancpain-gt-series.com
Facebook : 24 hours of Spa & Blancpain GT Series
Twitter : @24hoursofspa #SPA24H / @blancpaingt #Blancpaingt
Instagram : Blancpaingtseries #blancpaingt
Blancpain GT Series APP available on :
Blancpain - Innovation is our Tradition
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit.
From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past ten years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 35 new calibres.
Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit.
Its range encompasses the sportive L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.
Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier
Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.
Total - Official Sponsor of the Total 24 Hours of Spa
Energy is vital to economic development and improved standards of living.
Wherever it is available, energy is helping to drive progress, but sustainability requires changes in the way that it is used and managed. This is the environment in which we conduct our business.
With operations in more than 130 countries, Total is a top-tier international oil company and a world-class natural gas operator, refiner, petrochemical producer, and fuel and lubricant retailer.
Our nearly 99,000 employees leverage their globally acknowledged expertise so that together they can discover, produce, refine and distribute oil and gas to provide products and services for customers worldwide.
We are also broadening our offering by developing energies that can partner oil and gas — today, solar energy and tomorrow, biomass.
As a responsible corporate citizen, we focus on ensuring that our operations consistently deliver
economic, social and environmental benefits.
SRO Motorsports Group - The architect of modern GT Racing
SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.
In 2016, SRO Motorsports Group promotes several championships and series, such as the Blancpain
GT Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa, the British GT Championship, the Blancpain Sports Club with the Blancpain GT Sports Club and the Blancpain Ultracar Sports Club, the Competition 102 GT4 European Series and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
SRO Motorsports Group runs also the SRO Race Centre by MMC - a high-level technical centre at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France - and Curbstone, that provides ultimate track driving opportunities on world renowned race circuits in Western Europe for supercar owners, as well as test driving facilities for race car drivers.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.