The highlight of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup calendar takes place in Belgium for the Garage 59 team this weekend. The car-breaking, driver-beating, team-thrashing Total 24 Hours of Spa has a record-breaking entry of 73 cars this year, all ready to do battle at one of the world’s most exciting racing circuits, Spa-Franchorchamps.
The crew of Garage 59’s PRO class entry in the #59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 has had a tough run of luck lately. After a strong start to the season at Monza in April, Jonny Adam, Andrew Watson and Côme Ledogar were hoping to make it to the podium at Silverstone but they didn’t make it to the end of Lap 1 through no fault of their own. Last time out at Paul Ricard, they had to retire whilst running in second place with a technical problem.
“We know we have a strong car, we have a fast car and we have a great team of drivers so there is no reason why we shouldn’t expect a good result at Spa,” said Aston Martin Racing factory driver, Jonny Adam. “It’s a really tough event but we all love racing there and with all those extra points up for grabs we will be pushing harder than ever. It’s time for 59 to shine!”
In the AM class, the #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin of Alexander West, Chris Goodwin and Chris Harris has had a more successful season so far, taking silverware from each race, including the winner’s trophy at Paul Ricard. For the 24 Hours of Spa they will be joined by Aston Martin Racing factory driver, Ross Gunn.
“It has been a good season so far for us in the AM class,” said Goodwin. “We have all enjoyed our gradual improvement as us drivers and the Garage 59 team gets to grips with the Aston Martin Vantage, which is of course new to us this season. The 24 Hours of Spa is a much greater challenge than the standard, shorter endurance races that we do.The AM class, which is focussed on ‘slightly’ older drivers (I’ll leave my team mates out of it but I’m roughly twice as old as much of the grid) and guys that don’t just race cars every week, and that’s great. It makes for a very specific challenge for us all in terms of endurance and speed and this 24-hour race magnifies that challenge for us to be out there in such a large, highly-competitive grid.
“Of course, Alex, Chris and I relish the challenge and welcome the single young hot shoe that the regulations allow us to bring to this event, Ross Gunn,” he continued.“Ross is an emerging talent, a great team player and personally a great addition to the work hard, play hard team that we have already built up.I’m looking forward to this year’s event more than ever.”
THE TOTAL 24 HOURS OF SPA
The Total 24 Hours of Spa, which is also a round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, takes place in late July every year and is open to GT3 cars competing in various categories, which are decided by the level of the drivers behind the wheel. Garage 59 competes in the 36-car PRO class with the #59 Vantage as all three drivers are fully professional. The #188 Vantage is crewed by non-professional drivers so it runs in the 12-car AM class, although at Spa one additional silver-rated driver is permitted.
The #188 Vantage will take to the track at Spa tomorrow for the three-hour Bronze Test, which gives the non-professional drivers plenty of time to get acquainted with the rollercoaster-like circuit. Wednesday is a special day for the fans who can get up-close-and-personal with the cars after their parade run into the town centre.
Free Practice gets underway on Thursday morning with Pre-Qualifying in the afternoon. Qualifiying takes place on Thursday evening and consists of four 15-minute sessions to give every driver a shot at a time. The average of the fastest times recorded by each driver crew sets the final qualifying time for that car, the fastest 20 of whom go forward to Friday’s Superpole session. For this Top 20 shootout, each team must choose just one driver to qualify.