66-car grid includes wealth of class competition @ 24 Hours of Spa

66-car grid includes wealth of class competition @ 24 Hours of Spa

Silver Cup, Gold Cup, Pro-Am and Bronze Cup all on the line at 74th TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa

 
In recent years, the success of the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa has been reinforced by a novel concept: multi-class racing in which every car conforms to the same technical regulations.


Indeed, this summer's 74th edition will see five different categories all using GT3 machinery. While 23 crews will run in the premier Pro class, a further 43 will compete across the Silver Cup, Gold Cup, Pro-Am and Bronze Cup. 


With the exception of Pro, each class allows an extra driver to be added for the marquee event. It's not essential, however, with some squads preferring to maintain the synergy of their full-season line-up. These are the hopefuls looking to become class winners in 2022.


Record 18-car field chasing Silver Cup success
An 18-car grid means that the Silver Cup has again surpassed its record number of entries. Mercedes-AMG crews have won the past two editions, with Madpanda Motorsport securing top spot last year. Ezequiel Perez Companc and Patrick Kujala are both back to defend their victory, while Sean Walkinshaw and Oscar Tunjo add depth to the line-up. 


HRT triumphed in 2020 and has added Frank Bird to its regular #4 crew of Love/Fittje/Valente. The sister #777 Al Manar Racing by HRT entry was victorious in the most recent Fanatec Endurance event at Circuit Paul Ricard and stands among the favourites with its line-up of Al Zubair/Jefferies/Schiller, who will be complemented at Spa by Daniel Morad.
 

Akkodis ASP is a veteran of this race and hugely respected within the paddock, so expect its #87 line-up of Mosca/Drouet/Stevenson to be in the fight. A fifth Mercedes-AMG comes from GetSpeed, which retains its full-season trio of Kingsley/Eriksen/Baud for the twice-around-the-clock classic. With the numbers in its favour, the German brand has every chance of another win.


Indeed, Mercedes-AMG's five-car Silver Cup entry is matched only by that of fierce rival Audi. Tresor by Car Collection will field a revised line-up of Di Amato/Di Folco/Jean/Patrese, the latter making his maiden start at the age of 16. Saintéloc Junior Team knows how to win at this track and will hope to conquer the Silver class with Gazeau/Baert/Panis/Magnus, while Attempto Racing should be a front-runner with its crew of Zug/Schöll/Aka/Puhakka.


Team WRT is a factor in whichever class it enters and has a pair of Silver cars ready to chase victory this year. The #30 crew of Neubauer/Goethe/Simmenauer leads the Fanatec Endurance standings after taking victory in the season opener, while the sister #31 Audi of Hutchison/Menchaca/Proctor bagged a class podium last time out at Circuit Paul Ricard.


Lamborghini secured back-to-back Silver Cup wins in 2018-2019, and with four cars on the grid this year the Sant'Agata Bolognese brand has every hope of reclaiming top spot. VSR will field its usual two-car entry, with the #563 trio of Beretta/Nemoto/Hites joined by Karol Basz and the #163 crew of Paverud/Moulin/Dörrbecker bolstered by Mattia Michelotto. 


Emil Frey Racing is among the most experienced outfits on the grid and has maintained its fast young crew of White/Tujula/Lappalainen for the big event. Completing the Lamborghini contingent, Leipert Motorsport is set to contest its first TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa since 2011 with the quartet of Cooke/Leitch/Weering/Tutumlu Lopez.


Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS squad Samantha Tan Racing will make its TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa debut with the new BMW M4 GT3. Tan leads the driver line-up alongside her fellow Canadian Nick Wittmer, Texan racer Harry Gottsacker, and Dutch rookie Maxime Oosten. Garage 59 will field its McLaren for the full-season trio of Simioni/Maldonado/Kjaergaard. They are joined by esports champion James Baldwin, who makes a popular return to real-world competition at the world’s premier GT3 event.


A pair of Porsche entries complete the Silver Cup field. Allied Racing retains its regular trio of Matthiesen/Fischli/Strum, who are joined in the #22 car by 17-year-old GT4 European Series sensation Vincent Andronaco. Dinamic Motorsport will fly the Italian flag, with its #56 trio of Roda/Calamia/Nakken joined by Mikkel Pedersen. 


Gold Cup class set for ultra-competitive debut with 15-car grid
The new Gold Cup has proved to be an instant hit, with 15 cars set to contend for class honours at this year's TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa. It's an accomplished grid, too, with several entrants having secured wins in other classes. Walkenhorst Motorsport took overall victory in 2018 and makes a one-off appearance this year. The German outfit will field a BMW M4 GT3 for the American trio of Heistand/Dinan/Foley, who are complemented by factory driver Jens Klingmann. 


AF Corse has been hugely successful in the Pro-Am class and will be among the favourites to take the inaugural Gold Cup win. Its full-season crew of Delacour/Sbirrazzuoli/Balzan will be joined David Perel, a class winner at Spa in 2018 and 2019. Iron Dames will also field Ferrari machinery for what is the first all-female line-up at the event since 1997. Its regular trio of Frey/Bovy/Gatting is joined by teenager Doriane Pin, who is set for her TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa debut. 


Haupt Racing Team is another class-winning squad, having conquered the Silver Cup with Mercedes-AMG in 2020. Hubert Haupt and Gabriele Piana were both part of that effort and are joined for a Gold Cup campaign by Florian Scholze and Arjun Maini. Winward Racing has looked strong this term with its trio of Liebhauser/Ferrari/Auer, while Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS regular Russel Ward joins for the big race.

Sky Tempesta Racing will tackle Spa as a Mercedes-AMG squad for the first time this year. Its familiar trio of Hui/Froggatt/Cheever remains in place and will be bolstered by Loris Spinelli, who is best known for his outings in Lamborghini machinery. GetSpeed adds a one-off Gold Cup entry and is a dark horse for class honours with Blanchemain/Assenheimer/Blom/Pla sharing the #44 Mercedes-AMG.


Beechdean AMR is preparing for its first TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa assault since 2014. The Aston Martin squad will run the full-season crew of Howard/Hasse-Clot/Nouet alongside youngster Roman De Angelis. Inception Racing will also field British machinery, adding its McLaren into the Gold Cup mix. A sensational ninth place overall finish at Circuit Paul Ricard gave the team class victory and its line-up of Iribe/Millroy/Schandorff/Priaulx must be considered a leading contender. 


Herberth Motorsport won the very first Gold Cup race at Imola with its Porsche and the established crew of Ralf Bohn and the Renauer twins, Alfred and Robert, has the experience to go the distance. Allied Racing will also field a 911, with regular driver Alex Malykhin joined by Florian Latorre, Julien Apothéloz and Porsche factory ace Ayhancan Güven.
 

Team WRT's achievements in the Ardennes need no introduction and the Belgian squad will now look to add a Gold Cup triumph to its resumé. Ryuichiro Tomita anchors the #33 crew alongside brothers Arnold and Maxime Robin, while exciting young talent Ulysse De Pauw adds speed and local knowledge. Fellow Belgian outfit Boutsen Racing is set for its maiden Spa assault using Audi machinery and has added Antoine Leclerc to its regular crew of Eteki/Ojjeh/Lessennes.


Barwell Motorsport has amassed four class wins since 2018 and will be among the favourites in the Gold Cup. Its Lamborghini will be anchored by factory driver Sandy Mitchell, who is joined by three experienced teammates in Ahmad Al Harthy, Sam De Haan and Alex MacDowall. Another Lamborghini completes the Gold Cup field, with the full-season trio of Parisy/Cabirou/Gomar set to share the #8 AGS Events entry with Ruben Del Sarte.


Close competition guaranteed in Pro-Am and Bronze Cup
After a relatively fallow period, AF Corse took victory last year to return Ferrari to the top step of the Pro-Am podium. The Italian squad is the established master in this category with five wins to its name since 2011 and should be a contender again, with the full-season line-up of Machiels/Bertolini/Costantini reinforced by Alessio Rovera.


Porsche machinery has always been a popular choice for Pro-Am squads and that remains the case this year, with a quartet of entrants set to field the 911 GT3-R. The Earl Bamber Motorsport line-up includes experienced father-son duo Steve and Brenton Grove, who are joined by Malaysian racer Adrian D'Silva and New Zealand's Matt Payne. 


An overall winner in 2020, Earl Bamber will drive for the sister Singha Racing Team TP 12 squad alongside Thai duo Piti Bhirombhakdi and Tanart Sathienthirakul, and GT4 regular Christophe Hamon.  Herberth Motorsport, meanwhile, has two cars in the mix. Antares Au, Kevin Tse, Dylan Pereira and Jaxon Evans will team up in the #9, while Niki Leutwiler, Stefan Aust and Alessio Picariello are confirmed for the #24 machine.  


Garage 59 should be a strong contender with its #188 McLaren. Miguel Ramos and Alexander West are among the most experienced amateur drivers competing at this level of the sport, while Henrique Chaves and Dean MacDonald bring considerable speed. There are a pair of very strong bronze drivers in the SunEnergy1 by SPS squad, too. Having secured overall victory at this year's LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour, Kenny Habul and Martin Konrad will join forces once again to chase a class win at Spa. They are joined by SPS regular Dominik Baumann and experienced Mercedes-AMG racer Philip Ellis.   


CMR will be one of the most popular squads at this year's race. The French outfit is fielding the only Bentley on the grid and has confirmed two Belgian drivers, while its 'art car' livery will ensure it stands out from the crowd. Stephane Lemeret leads the driver line-up, bringing unmatched experienced alongside paraplegic racer Nigel Bailly and Antonin Borga. 


A pair of Bronze Cup cars complete the grid for this year's race. SPS automotive performance shifts its #20 Mercedes-AMG from the Pro-Am class with regular driver Valentin Pierburg. He is joined by TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa regular George Kurtz, returnee Tim Müller, and Saudi Arabia's first female racing driver, Reema Juffali. Their opposition will come from Walkenhorst Motorsport, which adds another BMW M4 GT3 to the field. Team owner Henry Walkenhorst will be joined behind the wheel by Donald Yount, Jörg Breuer and 17-year-old rookie Theo Oeverhaus.


As always the battle for class honours will form part of the event’s extensive live online coverage, including English, German, French and Italian commentary streams on the GT World YouTube channel. With each category sure to provide its fair share of heartbreak and glory, this year’s TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa promises to be another action-packed sporting contest.


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