Hitting the Spa
Hitting the Spa
Given the month-long gaps between races earlier in the 2010 American Le Mans Series season, it seems reasonable to think drivers would want to find seat time in the longer off-weeks. But now in the busiest stretch of the ALMS schedule, with three races in the next four weekends, a lot of the field was keen to maximize seat time each week, including ALMS off-weeks.
In-between the ALMS rounds at Lime Rock Park July 23-24 and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this upcoming weekend, a number of drivers embarked on a cross-continent voyage to Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium and the 24-hour GT race around the 4.352-mile road course in the Ardennes Forest this weekend. While Le Mans is the world’s premier sports car race, getting a 24-hour race at a track that has been around nearly as long serves only to satisfy the drivers’ appetites.
The first Spa 24 Hours took part in 1924, a year after the first 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s run at the current track location since 1979, and overall winners in that time period include ALMS veterans Didier Theys (1987), David Brabham (1991), Emmanuel Collard (1999), Christophe Bouchut (2001, 2002), Sebastien Bourdais (2002), Marc Lieb (2003), Romain Dumas (2003), and Stephane Sarrazin (2008).
A number of GT drivers from ALMS raced in the Belgian event. The GT class points leaders, Flying Lizard Porsche’s Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister, piloted a pair of separate Porsche 997 GT3 RSRs.
Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander, Risi pilots in ALMS, drove a similar Ferrari F430 GT for the Italian AF Corse squad. Fellow ALMS drivers Wolf Henzler (Porsche) and Marc Goossens (Jaguar RSR) raced in separate Porsche 997 GT3 RSRs. Winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller were also there but split up into a Porsche 997 and Audi R8 LMS, respectively.
The race featured four classes (GT2, GT3, GTN and GT4) with 37 of the 41 entries in the field using Michelin tires (7 of 8 in GT2, all 22 GT3, 5 of 7 GTN and 3 of 4 GT4s).
When all was said and done, the BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche took the overall win with Bergmeister, Henzler, Dumas and Martin Ragginger sharing the car. The IMSA Performance (not affiliated with the ALMS sanctioning body) Porsche finished second with Long, Patrick Pilet, Richard Lietz and Raymond Narac behind the wheel.