GT Academy Graduate Team Achieves a 3rd Place Podium Finish in the Spa 24 Hour Race
The final race of the Spa 24 Hour Race was held at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, from Saturday 27 July to Sunday 28 July. Six GT Academy graduates participated in this race in two Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s, with car #35 winning a 3rd place in the Pro-Amateur class (7th overall), putting the drivers on the podium of this legendary race.
The Spa 24 hour race is one of the three great endurance races of the world, next to the LeMans and Daytona. Since last year, the race represents also the first round of the "Blancpain Endurance Series" for FIA GT3 machines and points scored in this race count towards the total of the series.
Lucas Ordóñez, Jann Mardenborough, Peter Pyzera, Wolfgang Reip, Mark Shulzhitskiy and Steve Doherty were all driving in the race: Lucas, Jann, Peter and Wolfgang in the #35 car and Mark, Steve and Alex Buncombe driving the #32 car.
The driver that was truly put to test and under pressure this weekend was Jann: at the same time as the 24 hour race, he also fought hard in the British F3 International series that is ran in parallel to this event. In the 24 hour race qualifying night session that immediately followed this race, Jann achieved and held for a while the fastest lap time, really showing his skill against formidable drivers including former F1 drivers.
In the 24 hour final that started at 4:30 in the afternoon on Saturday the 27th, car #32 was immediately hit by bad luck: on its 13th lap, as it was approaching the Eau Rouge section a problem with the rear left tyre sent the car into the tyre barrier. Alex could not return the car to the track and retired from the race. On the other hand, car #35 carried on with almost no problems.
Halfway through the night, the Safety Car was released immediately after car#35 had changed the brake disks. Conveniently, at this time many teams took the chance to make their pit stops and thus improve their positions, but the team did their best to regain their advantage and succeeded in securing a podium finish. They gained points in the Blancpain Endurance Series annual championship, placing them well within reach of the Pro/Amateur class title of the year.
GT academy graduates now stand on the podiums of world famous races. Stay tuned as they take on even more challenges hereafter!