Wednesday Spa Notebook – Sportscar365
*** This weekend’s TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa marks the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 11th visit to the 4.35-mile circuit in Belgium. It is one of two events that have featured in every WEC season, along with the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
***The Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps is very different from that of the last visit of the WEC 12 months ago. The most remarkable thing at the entrance to the track is a huge earth embankment where the stands between La Source and Eau Rouge have been removed. There’s also a massive new grandstand overlooking the Eau Rouge-Raidillon complex, and more gravel runoff.
***A opening ceremony took place for the new Eau Rouge grandstand on Wednesday afternoon.
***Scrutineering took place on Wednesday, one day before the first action on the track. There was also a track walk in the afternoon, allowing some drivers to see the evolution of the circuit’s infrastructure up close for the first time.
***The #21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo features a black, yellow and red stripe of the Belgian flag, parallel to the Italian tricolor stripe usually found on the team’s WEC cars. He had a strip based on the American flag at Sebring, which implies that it will change with each round.
*** A handful of prototype teams, including WEC competitors WRT and Vector Sport, took part in a test at Monza last week. Also in attendance were Nielsen Racing, DKR Engineering, Cool Racing and TDS Racing, all of whom are due to contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans and will also race in the European Le Mans Series race at the Italian venue later this year.
*** Porsche hopes to bring its IMSA-based LMDh cars to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, according to its motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach. “If I had the free choice, I would like to have four cars on the grid,” he told Sportscar365. “But we have to see if it’s possible. It is also a question of budget: it costs money. But it mainly depends on the ACO.
***Porsche is planning “something special” for the last GTE-Pro race at Le Mans with its factory team. Laudenbach wouldn’t be tempted to say what the manufacturer is planning, but said: “I think this car deserves some attention in its final year. We plan to do something special, properly. Porsche has already deployed special liveries for Le Mans.
*** Laudenbach stressed that beyond the commemorations, he wants the Porsches to be more competitive in their last Le Mans in GTE-Pro. “We had two years with the RSR which were not good for us,” he said. “I trust the ACO and the FIA, and I’m confident. But the first thing for us, next to every special thing, is that we need the right BoP. The most important thing is that we have the opportunity to aim for victory in his last year.
*** GR Racing driver Ben Barker has recently embarked on a new venture with the purchase and opening of a cafe in the UK. Barker is co-founder of the SmallTown Cafe located in Clare, Suffolk and intends to open a second outlet soon.
*** Stellantis Motorsport manager Jean-Marc Finot, who is in charge of the Peugeot LMH program, is only a few kilometers away on the road to the Nürburgring this weekend to take part in the N24 qualifying. Finot is listed to drive an Opel Astra OPC. The other leaders of Stellantis, Jean-Philippe Imparato and François Wales, are also in the game.
*** Glickenhaus’ 007 LMH chassis is the same one used in the season opener of the 1000 Miles of Sebring. Team principal Luca Ciancetti told Sportscar365 the team did not swap cars despite the #709 being brought back to Europe ahead of the Sebring event. “When you see a car running with the number 708 it’s usually our chassis eight and 709 is chassis nine,” Ciancetti said.
*** Glickenhaus and operating partner Podium Advanced Technologies are competing in Spa and N24 qualifying this weekend. TF Sport is also in the Ardennes and the Eifel this weekend, using separate teams. The only full-time member of the WEC team who has been assigned to the Nürburgring is a mechanic from the No. 777 D’station Racing team. Team principal Tom Ferrier will be at Spa for the full WEC event before heading to Germany for the second qualifying race on Sunday.
***Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe Vice President and three-time Le Mans winner Kazuki Nakajima recently took a Toyota GR010 Hybrid on tour in Japan, bringing the car to some of the technical partners who worked on the Toyota LMH project.
***TGR donated one of its Toyota TS050 hybrids to the Louwman Museum in The Hague, the Netherlands. The car in question is #7 which finished third overall in the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans in the hands of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez.
*** London-based supercar dealer Joe Macari has put an Audi R18 e-tron quattro up for sale, marking the first time an LMP1 hybrid car has hit the open market. The car, chassis 416, was driven by Oliver Jarvis, Lucas di Grassi and Loic Duval in several rounds of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship.
***Spa will see the return of the fan pit walk for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two separate sessions will take place, one shortly before the start of final practice on Friday and one at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday morning.
***The WRT team plans to test its three Gibson Oreca 07s competing for Le Mans at Aragon next month. The Belgian team is using its spare LMP2 car, which was sent to Sebring as a backup, for the entry with Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen and Dries Vanthoor. It is understood that the crew for this effort will include members of the GT3 team who have previous LMP2 experience.
***Vanthoor, who is not at Spa, told Sportscar365 that the postponement of Audi’s LMDh program has affected him “quite a bit” as he has to drive for the manufacturer. “It was a week before we planned to do all the [rollout] stuff,” he said. “My flights were booked and everything. It was boring. Let’s see in the next few months what will happen. They said they wanted to put it on hold, so maybe it will come back.
*** ARC Bratislava boss Miro Konopka has told Sportscar365 that Mathias Beche is set to return to the team’s LMP2 lineup for the 6 Hours of Monza after co-driving with Konopka and Tijmen van der Helm at Sebring. Bent Viscaal makes his WEC debut with the team this weekend, in preparation for Le Mans. Viscaal and Tristan Vautier replace Beche and van der Helm at Le Mans, both drivers being with TDS Racing x Vaillante. “For Fuji and Bahrain, it’s still open at the moment,” Konopka said.
*** Track action at Spa begins on Thursday afternoon with Free Practice Session 1 beginning at 3:30 p.m. CEST (9:30 a.m. ET) and lasting 90 minutes.
Davey Euwema contributed to this report