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, 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps/Belgium , Preview
Seven Porsche works drivers compete for customer teams

The 65th running of the 24 hour race in Spa-Francorchamps on 27/28 July promises to be a highlight of sports car racing. Around 70 GT vehicles are registered for this year’s marathon on the legendary seven kilometre roller-coaster circuit in the Ardennes – including eleven Porsche 911 fielded by customer squads. In a time-tested practice, Porsche Motorsport supports these teams – for example by providing seven Porsche works drivers. Between 1967 and 2010, Porsche teams celebrated six overall victories at the world’s second-oldest 24 hour race.

The Porsche drivers

Two of the Porsche factory pilots to compete at the end of July are already on the winners’ list at this classic. Marc Lieb (Germany) clinched victory on his favourite race track exactly ten years ago. His compatriot Joerg Bergmeister was a member of the winning quartet back in 2010. This year Lieb shares the cockpit of a 911 GT3 R fielded by Manthey Racing with his works driver colleagues Richard Lietz (Austria) and Patrick Pilet (France). Last month Lieb and Lietz celebrated a class victory in Le Mans.

Bergmeister tackles the race this year with Porsche works driver Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel of a 911 GT3 R for the Pro GT by Almeras team. If Timo Bernhard should win at Spa, he will write history: As the first driver ever to win the four most famous 24 hour races – after already conquering the Nürburgring, Le Mans and Daytona. Eric Dermont, Franck Perera, Philippe Giauque and Morgan Moulin Traffort (all France) share driving duties in the second 911 run by Pro GT by Almeras.

On the home turf of ProSpeed Competition, the well-rehearsed works driver pairing of Marco Holzer (Germany) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) are keen to win. The young Italian Marco Mapelli completes the ProSpeed trio. Racing another of the Belgium team’s 911 GT3 R are Marc Hennerici (Germany), Xavier Maassen (Netherlands) and Maxime Soulet (Belgium). Piloting the 911 GT3 R of the race squad SMG Challenge is an all-French crew with Olivier Pla, Eric Clément and Nicolas Armindo. The Swiss team Fach Auto Tech fields a 911 GT3 R manned by the German trio Otto Klohs, Sebastian Asch and Jens Richter as well as the former Porsche Junior Martin Ragginger (Austria) who won the 2010 race with Joerg Bergmeister.

The Porsche 911 GT3 R

Since its launch in 2010, customer teams all over the world have notched up one success after another with the 911 GT3 R. In 2012 alone, Porsche customers contested 131 races with the ca. 500 hp GT racer, scoring 41 wins and bringing home many championship titles.

The schedule

Following tradition, fans are treated to a drivers’ parade which takes place on Wednesday 24 July from 15.00 hours. On Thursday a free practice is scheduled at 9.45 hours. The pre-qualifying is held from 18.15 to 19.15 hours, with the qualifying from 20.10 to 21.25 hrs, and the night qualifying from 21.55 to 23.10 hrs. The best 20 grid spots are then determined by the “Super Pole” on Friday from 18.15 hours. The race takes off on Saturday at 16.30 hours.

TV tips

The pay TV channel MotorsTV broadcasts most of the race live: on Saturday from 16.00 to 20.00 hrs and from 21.00 to 23.00 hrs, on Sunday from 8.00 to midday and from 13.30 to 17.00 hrs. At these times, viewers can also watch the race via Live-Streaming (www.total24hours.com) on the internet. During the transmission breaks onboard footage is shown on the website. A one-hour highlight programme from Spa is televised on Sunday evening from 19.00 to 20.00 hrs on RTL NITRO.

All reports on the previous season can be found in our archive.