Comtoyou Racing clinches historic Aston Martin victory @ 24 Hours of Spa

Comtoyou Racing clinches historic Aston Martin victory @ 24 Hours of Spa

As record crowd celebrates centenary 24 Hours of Spa

 

Belgian squad triumphs with new Vantage to end 76-year wait for Aston Martin
Centenary race culminates in dramatic final hour as victory slips away from AF Corse Ferrari
Mercedes-AMG earns three class wins thanks to AlManar Racing by GetSpeed (Gold), GetSpeed (Silver) and CrowdStrike by Riley (Pro-Am)
Tresor Attempto Racing captures Bronze Cup honours with Audi

 

Comtoyou Racing has won the 2024 CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa for Aston Martin, securing a place in history by triumphing at an unforgettable centenary event that drew 99,500 spectators to the Ardennes venue.

 

The result is made all the more remarkable by the fact that the winning Vantage AMR GT3 was making its debut at the biggest GT race in the world, while the Comtoyou squad did not begin working with the British brand until earlier this year. But while the car triumphed at the first time of asking, today's victory was the first for Aston Martin since the 1948 edition.   

 

At an event that is now more international than ever, the triumphant squad at the centenary flew the Belgian flag. Starting from 14th, the crew of Nicki Thiim, Marco Sørensen and Mattia Drudi moved up the order during the opening phase and safely navigated a night of heavy rain showers that restricted green flag running during the hours of darkness. 

 

By mid-morning, the leading contenders were the #998 ROWE Racing BMW, the #7 Aston Martin and the #51 AF Corse – Francorchamps Motors Ferrari. As midday approached, they were separated by less than a second and running to a similar pit stop schedule. A little after 12:30 the BMW and the Aston Martin stopped at the same time, the ROWE machine just beating the Comtoyou car out. The BMW got slightly loose as the cars crested the hill to rejoin the circuit, perhaps costing it and the pursuing Aston Martin a fraction of time. 

 

The Ferrari had stopped one lap earlier and was at full speed through Raidillon. Powering on to the Kemmel Straight, Alessandro Pier Guidi was able to blast past both the BMW and the Aston Martin before the cars had reached Les Combes. Just a few corners later, the #7 Vantage had also overhauled the BMW. Freshly installed at the wheel, Thiim wasted no time in making his presence felt by muscling past Max Hesse and into second spot.  

 

Over the next few hours, the Ferrari built a 10-second gap at the head of the field and seemed on course for victory when it pulled in for its final stop with 50 minutes left. But in a moment of incredible misfortune for the Italian squad, it arrived at the pit entrance to find a stricken Lamborghini blocking its way. 

 

As the moments slipped by, a likely victory slipped away. The Lamborghini was eventually removed and the Ferrari completed its stop, but the lost time would prove decisive. When the Aston Martin undertook its final service a few minutes later, it returned to the track at the head of the field. Drudi held an advantage of 25 seconds and did not put a foot wrong over the final 45 minutes. When the chequered flag fell, the celebrations could begin in the Comtoyou Racing garage.

 

There was more late drama to come. The #998 BMW had been on course for runner-up but was set to overrun the maximum stint length. Facing a penalty, the car ran through the pit lane on the final lap, dropping it to sixth in the final classification. The #51 Ferrari fought back to secure a runner-up finish, Pier Guidi delivering a blistering final stint on a day of bitter disappointment. The centenary edition will rightly be remembered for an Aston Martin victory, but it will also go down as a winning performance from the Ferrari. 

 

The #32 Team WRT BMW completed the podium. While unable to fight for the win, the crew of Dries Vanthoor, Charles Weerts and Sheldon van der Linde were ultimately satisfied to have secured a top three result, particularly as they crossed the line in fourth. The #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport Aston Martin finished ahead but received a penalty for contact with the #51 Ferrari during the final hour and was classified in P4. The pole-sitting #163 Grasser Racing Lamborghini completed the top five, fighting back from early issues to earn the Italian brand its best-ever finish at the event. Marco Mapelli earned the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap (2m16.105s) in the process.

 

While there was late drama in the fight for the outright win, the class victories were relatively secure during the final phase of the race. Gold Cup honours went to the #777 AlManar Racing by GetSpeed crew of Al Faisal Al Zubair, Mikaël Grenier, Dominik Baumann and Philip Ellis. Fast throughout the event, they delivered a clean performance which was rewarded with seventh overall. The podium also featured the #25 Saintéloc Racing Audi and the #77 HRT Mercedes-AMG. 

 

The Bronze Cup winner also finished among the overall top 10. This class went to the #66 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi, which took victory by a comfortable margin. After emerging from the night with a clear advantage thanks to its crew of Andrey Mukovoz, Dylan Pereira, Max Hofer and Aleksey Nesov, the Audi remained competitive all the way to the finish, taking 10th overall. This year's Bronze Cup runner-up was the #52 AF Corse Ferrari, followed by the #72 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini.    

 

GetSpeed earned a second winner’s trophy by taking the Silver Cup class with its #3 Mercedes-AMG, which delivered a similar performance to the sister AlManar Racing car. Driven by Yannick Mettler, James Kell, Anthony Bartone and Aaron Walker, it rose to the top of its classification during the morning and ran cleanly thereafter. There was late pressure from the #10 Boutsen VDS Mercedes-AMG, but when this car retired the #3 crew could begin to relax. They were followed home by the #55 Dinamic GT Porsche and the #57 Windward Racing Mercedes-AMG. 

 

On a day when its Pro cars faced disappointment, Mercedes-AMG could celebrate a hat-trick of class victories at the centenary. The third came courtesy of the #4 CrowdStrike by Riley entry, driven by George Kurtz, Ian James, Nicky Catsburg and Colin Braun, which ran an intelligent race to capture Pro-Am honours. They were locked in battle with Team RJN until the #100 McLaren suffered power issues during the early afternoon, ultimately slipping well behind the CrowdStrike by Riley crew and the #16 Uno Racing by Landgraf Mercedes-AMG. The Chinese team took runner-up, capping a fine comeback drive after being caught up in an early incident, with RJN in third.

 

The centenary edition was celebrated in the style befitting such a storied race. Indeed, between Spa Speedweek, the parade and the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa itself, more than 110,000 people witnessed this once-in-a-lifetime event. Their presence ensured that it became much more than a motor race. As it marks its centenary, the future looks brighter than ever for the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa.

 

Here's to the next 100 years.


Nicki Thiim, #7 Comtoyou Racing Aston Martin: “Finally! First off, I want to say sorry to those boys there [the #51 Ferrari drivers]. We have a long history with them, and I really feel for them, but for me it’s about time. I’ve finished P3 two times here and this year we reunited the Dane Train and added the Italian Stallion, and this is the result. I’m just happy and proud. It was a chaotic race, but we came through it and I’m so happy.”

 

George Kurtz, #4 CrowdStrike by Riley Mercedes-AMG: “This result is so special. When you’re the title sponsor and you manage to win the centenary race, that’s just so special. As always, thanks have to go out to the entire team. The drivers, they had my back and did a fantastic job; Riley did a great job giving us a fantastic car and we managed to stay out of trouble. It was a bit of a war of attrition and the name of the game for us was to get through it and survive to see where we would wind up. I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”

 

Andrey Mukovoz, #66 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi: “I am so proud of this result. This is only my second CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa and the way the team and the car worked together was so important, especially when the Bronze grid is so competitive this year, with so many cars. We made it!”

 

Al Faisal Al Zubair, #777 AlManar Racing Mercedes-AMG: “It was a great race today. The weather definitely made it unpredictable and difficult to decide what was right, but at the end of it I think it made it even better for us. I am very happy with the job all my teammates did and I’m delighted to bring this win home.”

 

Yannick Mettler, #3 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG: “There was a lot of up and down to this race and it was very chaotic, but we had really good pace in the wet and took our opportunities to get into the mix. Somehow, we stayed there and kept things consistent. Ultimately, I don’t think we were the quickest car over a lap, but we had the consistency and managed the conditions and that’s what put us out front. Nobody had a perfect race, but we kept our mistakes small and made no big ones. I’m really happy.”
 


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