Total 24 Hours of Spa 2009 - GT1 Preview

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by daisho13, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. #1 daisho13, Jul 22, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016

    In a few days the blue riband event of the FIA GT Championship will be taking place for the 61st time in history: the 24 Hours of Spa. Globally the race is regarded as one of the best races in the sports car racing world, on one of the most historic racing circuits that still exists.

    Unfortunately the current entry list makes the 2009 edition one of the weakest races in recent history. At the moment of this writing thirty-nine entries were still on the list, with just over a handful of (current spec) GT1 cars. The hopes of many to see the ultimate fight over 24 hours between Corvette, Aston Martin, Maserati, Saleen and Lamborghini were dashed when it became clear that no Aston Martins or Lamborghinis would be entered. But it got worse…

    With July 14th (the date of the publication of the entry list) getting closer rumours about teams pulling out or not entering started to increase and when the list finally arrived it turned out that out of nine full-season entries only six had entered. That number dropped to five a few days later.

    Luc Alphand Aventures was the first of the full season regulars to make a shock announcement that they will not run in Belgium and will instead focus on their title defence in the Le Mans Series. Full Speed Racing and KplusK Motorsport had already confirmed they would only run one car, rather than the double entry in the season. But a few days after the entry list was revealed KplusK Motorsport decided to withdraw their second entry as well, leaving the Full Speed Racing team as the sole Saleen team in Spa. The reasons given for their withdrawal are understandable, but not at such a late moment. It is not that the teams only recently knew what regulations were in place for Spa.

    All in all there will be nine GT1 cars on the grid, two of them in the 2010-specification.

    Despite the rumours about several teams Vitaphone Racing never doubted racing at Spa, their favourite hunting ground. In fact the German squad is (again) doing everything to win. Three cars are entered and some top drivers are signed for the twice-around-the-clock race. Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini in the #1 Maserati MC12 will be joined again by Stéphane Sarrazin, part of the winning squad in 2008, and Alexandre Negrão, who finished second in 2008. The second car will have regular drivers Alex Müller and Miguel Ramos teamed up with 5x Spa 24 winner Eric van de Poele and Portuguese ace Pedro Lamy. The third car will have Vincent Vosse, Stéphane Lémeret, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Carl Rosenblad sharing the driving duties. All in all it is a highly experienced group of drivers in the best car available for the Spa 24 Hours. Unless weather conditions, accidents or driver errors rue their chances one of the Vitaphone cars should end up at the top spot.

    First among the non-Maserati crews is the PK Carsport Corvette C6.R #4 of Mike Hezemans and Anthony Kumpen. A disastrous year for the Corvettes in 2008 should be forgotten, PK is at Spa to win. The Dutch-Belgian pair is joined by another Dutch-Belgian duo, Jos Menten and Kurt Mollekens. A win at Oschersleben last month meant the team is ready for its attack on the Vitaphone team, but it remains to be seen if the #4 can beat the lead Maserati entries.

    Selleslagh Racing Team is likely to be the second best of the Corvette teams. Bert Longin and James Ruffier will be joined by Maxime Soulet, his fourth Spa 24 Hours in an SRT Corvette. SRT will have Pratt&Miller support for their race car at Spa and will also have Briton Oliver Gavin racing for them. For Gavin it is a return to Spa after his race with Luc Alphand Aventures back in 2007. Gavin’s experience in the C6.R will hopefully make up for the flaws in the rest of the line-up.

    The final Corvette C6.R is the Sangari Team Brazil entry, the rebranded DKR Engineering car. Enrique Bernoldi is the leading man in this team, though his lack of sports car experience is worrying. V8 Brasil is about the only thing he has done. A similar thing can be said about his team mate Roberto Streit, who only raced single-seaters as well and only once raced in the Japanese Super GT Series. For the Total 24 Hours of Spa 2009 the two Brazilians are joined by Dutchman Xavier Maassen, who was without a seat after the late withdrawal by his regular team Luc Alphand Aventures. Maassen finished second at the Le Mans 24 Hours and therefore knows what it is to do such a race. If there will be a fourth driver is not yet known at the moment.

    The only current spec GT1 car left is the Full Speed Racing Saleen S7R. The #11 car will have Ferdinando Monfardini behind the wheel as usual this season, but the arrival of Dutch brothers Arjan and Rob van der Zwaan as well as reigning Japanese F3 champion Carlo van Dam came as a surprise. Drivers like Luke Hines, Johnny Mowlem, Michael Orts, Emerson Newton-John were expected (or at least linked) to the seat, but in the end it will be the Van der Zwaan brothers making their return to the FIA GT Championship for the first time since 2005, when they raced a JMB Racing Maserati MC12.

    Completing the GT1 category are two brand new GT1 cars; the Nissan GT-R and the Ford GT.

    Nissan Motorsports will be bringing the brand new Nissan GT-R to Belgium after its final test at the Oschersleben circuit gave the team enough confidence to enter it in a 24 hours race. Darren Turner and Michael Krumm will be joined by Anthony Davidson at Spa-Francorchamps, making it a top line-up. Nissan will see the Spa race as a big test for its new car ahead of the 2010 World Championship, but of course they would like to finish as high as possible.

    Marc VDS Racing is the only Ford GT team in GT1, as Matech GT Racing Team decided to enter their GT3 cars at Spa. After running the Gillet Vertigo in recent years Bas Leinders and Renaud Kuppens finally have a real car to race around the Spa circuit. Joining them is reigning GT4 European Cup champion Eric de Doncker. As is the case with the Nissan GT-R the main focus is to finish.

    So that is it. No Jetalliance Racing Aston Martin DBR9, no Gigawave Aston Martin DBR9, no Larbre Competition or Reiter Engineering, no KplusK Motorsport Saleen and no Luc Alphand Aventures. Conclusion: quantity isn’t there, but at least there is some quality among the driver lineups, even though it is mainly found at Vitaphone Racing.
  2. I guess GT1 is unhealthy everywhere. <A BORDER="0" HREF=""><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/sad.gif"></A>
  3. I see only 4 cars with a legitimate shot at winning.

    1 - Vitaphone Maserati
    2 - Vitaphone Maserati
    3 - SRT Corvette
    4 - PK Corvette

    Luc Alphand's Corvette would have been a contender as well, but they had to withdraw after a HUGE wreck at Le Mans. The car will be repaired in time for the next LMS race though.
  4. A few other things worth mentioning is that Lamborghini's new entrant for the 2010 GT1 FIA World Championship based on the Murcielago SV will be unveiled on Friday. It won't race, but it will be shown at the track.

    Also in GT1 World Championship news, Hexis Racing (currently racing GT2 and GT3 Astons) have aspirations to race an Aston Martin DBR9 in the new world championship next year. Aston Martin has not been announced as one of the six manufacturers that will take part in the series, but they have mentioned several teams having an interest in running DBR9s modified by AMR for the new championship.

    German GT racing stalwarts have also hinted that they hope to race a version of Audi's new R8 LMS in the GT1 world championship as well. No word yet from either Audi or the SRO on the likelihood of this happening.

    Toine Hezemans, has also given an interest in modifying current Corvette C6.Rs to make them 2010 GT1 ready and would love to see them in the new championship. Again, no word from the SRO on that yet.

    Ascari and Spyker have made announcements that they have a desire to build GT1 cars, but the SRO has yet to make any announcement that they'd be invited to join the World Championship.

    It seems most people in the sports car racing community aren't thrilled with the idea of the C6.Rs and DBR9s being cut up and modified to make them able to continue to race in something other than what they were conceived for. Most of us feel that the current GT1 era should end and those cars should be retired with their incredible legacies intact. The new championship doesn't seem to have the homologation regulations that the current one does, so the cars racing share even less with their road going counterparts than they do now, which definitely takes away some of the appeal in my (and many others') eyes.

    Should all of this happen though, it might make for quite an exciting championship despite the cars being a step backwards from today's cars and there seems to be no conceivable homologation rules.

    24 Cars from 6 manufactuers (4 of each car) - Ford GT, Nissan GT-R, Lambo Murc SV, Aston Martin DBR9, Audi R8 LMS, and Corvette C6.R - Definitely sounds like it could be exciting.

  5. Will it be available to watch online?
  6. I'll do my best to get you pictures of the race
  7. #7 rabbitl1, Jul 23, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
  8. 8 hours in and we have 4 cars still on the lead lap, 2 Corvettes and 2 Maseratis. This could shape up to be an epic battle between the 2 marques!

    I really hope it will be as this is the last year that GT1 cars of any kind will race in the 24 hours. The SRO announced yesterday that the GT1 cars would run at Spa next year in the same race weekend as the 24 Hours, but it would in their own race and the 24 hours would be just GT2, GT3, and GT4 cars.

    The 24 hours of Spa just lost a HUGE amount of interest for a lot of people after this year, so hopefully this one will be great!
  9. #9 rabbitl1, Jul 25, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
  10. I wish there was another live video feed. The gt1live feed doesnt come back on till near the end of the race.

    Good to see Oliver Gavin leading as well.
  11. this is defenitly the best race in the last years
    we are 15 hour in & still 3 cars within seconds of each other

    & Gavin is just insane how fast he goes with that Vette
    it's been at least 2 years since he had driven here
    during the night he kept pounding around like it was daylight doing 2min17 laps one after the other
    this morning back in the light he did 2min15 on the first lap out!
  12. Yea, Gavin and Beretta are a combo hard to beat in the ALMS and Beretta would have performed very similarly in the LAA Corvette had they not withdrawn.
  13. #13 Thebdm, Jul 26, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    Some pictures from yesterday on the first page

    No press credential so <A BORDER="0" HREF=""><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/sad.gif"></A>
  14. Wow, idk what happened but in the end only 1 car was on the lead lap and the 2nd place Maserati 11 laps back.

    And Gavin who was so strong the entire race ended up WAY back...must have had a crash or something.

    Anyone have video highlights?
  15. The SRT car had an engine failure (but not a totally catastrophic one) in the 21st hour, although Gavin was somehow able to get it back to the pits. The team parked the car and worked on it for the last 2 hours, taking it out just to take the checkered flag in order to get points.
  16. Here's a pretty impressive stat: 5 of the 8 Corvette C6.Rs have won a 24 hour race.
  17. #17 bob777, Jul 27, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    Great video here

  18. oil line came loose so the engine drove around without oil!!
    they didn't knew how long without, the pit was a mess

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