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The 70th running of the Total 24 Hours of Spa ended with a strong team performance by Mercedes-AMG. In the race marked by tactics and numerous full-course yellows, the cars from Affalterbach scored two top ten results: the #4 (Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON) finished in fifth place, the #88 (Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP) was classified sixth. Eleventh place for the #43 (Mercedes-AMG Team STRAKKA Racing) and twelfth position for the #84 (Mercedes-AMG Team MANN-FILTER) rounded out the good team result. There was also success in the various classes: in the Pro-AM class, Customer #racing Teams secured second and third place as well as third position in the Silver Cup.
Spa-Francorchamps – The jubilee edition of the Spa 24-hour race was held in ideal weather and track conditions. Throughout the race distance, the spectators got to see entertaining competition in which the Mercedes-AMG GT3s stood out for their high level of consistency. As safety car interventions and full-course yellows frequently interrupted the race, tactics and luck also played a decisive role in the outcome of the classic endurance race.
The #4 car of the Mercedes-AMG Teams BLACK FALCON delivered the strongest performance of the Mercedes-AMG GT3s. The #gt3 driven by Yelmer Buurman (NED), #maroengel (GER) and #lucastolz (GER) was on course for a podium finish until four hours before the end. However, a pit stop just before a full-course yellow made the trio drop back behind the top three. In the remaining time, the team therefore was no longer able to play a role in the battle at the front. After 511 laps, final driver #lucastolz, who also had his birthday, brought fifth place home.
One lap and one position behind the #4 car, the #88 entry of the Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP crossed the finish line. Daniel Juncadella (ESP), #raffaelemarciello (ITA) and Tristan Vautier (FRA) had started the race from 20thplace on the grid and lost some positions in the early stages. Their subsequent recovery that was certainly worth watching saw the trio make it back into the top ten of the world’s biggest GT race.
In the closing stages of the legendary endurance race, two further Mercedes-AMG GT3s benefited from their reliability and also made it into the top twelve: the #43 of the Mercedes-AMG Team STRAKKA #racing with Maximilian Buhk (GER), #maximiliangotz (GER) and Alvaro Parente (POR) as well as the #84 of the Mercedes-AMG Team MANN-FILTER with Edoardo Mortara (ITA), #garypaffett (GBR) and Renger van der Zande (NED). For the #43, final driver Parente secured eleventh place while van der Zande brought twelfth place home for the #84 car.
In the various classes, the Customer #racing Teams crowned their good performance with three podium finishes: in the Pro-AM category, the #42 STRAKKA #racing car was in the lead for major parts of the race. In the final third of the race, however, #chrisbuncombe (GBR), David Fumanelli (ITA), Nick Leventis (GBR) and Lewis Williamson (GBR) lost their leading position. After 504 laps, final driver Fumanelli took the chequered flag in second place in his class. In third place and therefore also on the podium of the Pro-AM class, the #175 SunEnergy1 Team HTP Motorsport car with Kenny Habul (AUS), #thomasjager (GER), Martin Konrad (AUT), Bernd Schneider (GER) made it to the finish. In the overall classification, the cars ended up in 17th and 20th position respectively. In the Silver Cup, the fans got to watch a strong recovery by the #6 Mercedes-AMG #gt3 of the BLACK FALCON team: Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA), #huberthaupt (GER), Manuel Metzger (GER) and Gabriele Piana (ITA) had started from the back, had already worked their way up to be on course for a podium in the morning hours and defended third position until the finish.
Thanks to the good results in the 24-hour race, the crews with the Mercedes-AMG GT3s have scored numerous championship points. In the Intercontinental GT Challenge manufacturers’ standings, Mercedes-AMG managed to close up and is in second place, at the halfway point of the season. In the Blancpain GT Series, there were valuable points for the drivers and teams with the #gt3 cars from Affalterbach as well: in the Endurance Cup standings, there are now four Mercedes-AMG drivers up front with #raffaelemarciello, #maroengel, #lucastolz and Yelmer Buurman.
Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON #4: “ We can be very proud of our race, both from a team’s and from a drivers’ perspective. We were on course for the podium for most of the time. Unfortunately, the final full-course yellow blew our chances as it was called just after we had been in the pits. As a result, we simply dropped back too far. That was bad luck, but other than that, we have nothing to blame ourselves for. We had a faultless race and the Mercedes-AMG #gt3 has shown its reliability once again.”
Luca Stolz, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON #4: “ Actually, we had a good race, we made no mistakes and we didn’t get any penalties. Here at Spa, that already makes a huge difference as the pit lane is so long and a drive-through penalty costs you over two minutes. We simply lacked a bit of pace. However, the team has done a super job, every pit stop was spot-on and it was just unfortunate with the full-course yellow that made us eventually finish fifth.”
Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG Team MANN-FILTER #84: “The race was long and hard. We were given a penalty at an early stage already and it was difficult to make up for it. We weren’t really in a position to attack. That is very disappointing because you come here to win the race. Nevertheless, I am proud of the team as we have all worked hard and done our utmost.”
Raffaele Marciello, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP #88: “The race was really demanding. After a brief while already, we started having problems with the clutch and we had to race without sixth gear for 21 hours. We are really happy that we managed to finish the race. Sixth place isn’t all the way at the front, but it still gives us valuable points for the championship standings.”
Maximilian Götz, Mercedes-AMG Team STRAKKA #racing #43. “We dropped out of the top ten in the closing stages. That is too bad, of course, and not what we had expected. I think that, generally, we had a hard time in keeping up with the front runners with our pace. We largely ran faultlessly, but we didn’t really have luck on our side. Eleventh place is not what we had expected, but we will be back and then attack again.”
Chris Buncombe, STRAKKA #racing #42: “The first half of the race actually went to plan, we managed to score points after six and twelve hours, which was very important for the championship. Literally everybody in the STRAKKA #racing Team has done a fantastic job. That was one of the decisive points that enabled us to make it onto the Pro-AM class podium. I am very happy with the result.”
Thomas Jäger, SunEnergy1 Team HTP Motorsport #175: “Third place in the Pro-AM class is super, I am really happy for the entire team. It was very tough and we really had to fight as we also had the odd problem to deal with. We are totally happy with the result.”
Hubert Haupt, BLACK FALCON #6: “We certainly didn’t have a lucky weekend, we had to start from the back of the grid and we also had many problems in the race. It felt like we lost eight or nine minutes in the pits due to repairs. Therefore, third place in the Super Cup at the end is just super!”
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer #racing: “With a competitive attitude and a team spirit, we managed to establish ourselves among the front runners in this high-class #gt3 field in the first part of the race already. Thanks to a clever pit stop strategy, we were able to benefit from a full-course yellow halfway through the race to complete the mandatory technical pit stop with our four cars. That gave us the advantage from which we benefited until the end. The #88 and in particular the #4 were absolutely on course for a podium finish. Unfortunately, we lost our chances of scoring this well-deserved result as we weren’t able to make our pit stops during yellows. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the achievements from our drivers and teams. We did a super job in this hard race. With four cars in the top ten, our Mercedes-AMG GT3s has shown its great quality in endurance races once again. Moreover, we managed to score valuable points for the IGTC. My congratulations also to STRAKKA #racing and the SunEnergy1 Team HTP Motorsport for their podium finishes in the Pro-AM class as well as BLACK FALCON for its third place in the Silver Cup.”
Finish order, Total 24 Hours of Spa*:
BMW M6 GT3
Tom Blomqvist (GBR), Christian Krognes (NOR), Philipp Eng (AUT)
BMW M6 GT3
Nicky Catsburg (NED), Alexander Sims (GBR), Jens Klingmann (GER)
Montaplast by Land-Motorsport
Audi R8 LMS
Kelvin van der Linde (ZAF), Sheldon van der Linde (ZAF), Jeffrey Schmidt (SUI)
Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON
Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP
Daniel Juncadella (ESP), #raffaelemarciello (ITA), Tristan Vautier (FRA)
Mercedes-AMG Team STRAKKA Racing
Maximilian Buhk (GER), #maximiliangotz (GER), Alvaro Parente (POR)
Mercedes-AMG Team MANN-FILTER
Edoardo Mortara (ITA), #garypaffett (GBR), Renger van der Zande (NED)
SMP #racing by AKKA ASP
Denis Bulatov (RUS), Michael Meadows (GBR), Vitaly Petrov (RUS)
Chris Buncombe (GBR), David Fumanelli (ITA), Nick Leventis (GBR), Lewis Williamson (GBR)
SunEnergy1 Team HTP Motorsport
Kenny Habul (AUS), #thomasjager (GER), Martin Konrad (AUT), Bernd Schneider (GER)
Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA), #huberthaupt (GER), Manuel Metzger (GER), Gabriele Piana (ITA)
Rui Aguas (POR), Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR), Saud Al Faisal (KSA), Kriton Lendoudis (GRE)
Darren Burke (GBR), Euan Hankey (GBR), Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), Salih Yoluc (TUR)
AKKA ASP Team
Nico Bastian (GER), Jack Manchester (GBR), Fabian Schiller (GER), Jules Szymkowiak (NED)
Rubens Barrichello (BRA), Felipe Fraga (BRA), Christian Vietoris (GER)
AKKA ASP Team
Fabien Barthez (FRA), Eric Debard (FRA), Philippe Giauque (SUI), Nico Jamin (FRA)
* subject to confirmation by the organisers
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