Legendary SPA10.09.2022 Sports & Leisure
It’s a tough feeling as a race driver to leave a track and hear the cars behind you still racing. Especially at Spa at La Source!
La Source is a hairpin corner tackled in 1st gear, and once you exit, it takes you flat out onto Eau Rouge/ Raidillon.
As I left the circuit behind, I could hear the roaring of the race cars, their maximum revs going up the gears … 2nd, 3rd, 4th and then 5th before hitting the end of the Raidillon stretch at 241 km/h …
I have this image running in my head as we drive off. Going flat into the Raidillon, a quick left followed by a sharp right as you go up, your right foot stuck to the floor. What a feeling. But what a disappointment having to leave it all behind. My gut twisting in my stomach. It hurts!
We started well off on Tuesday afternoon. Having spent close to 12 hours in the simulator, we were ready to go. The time spent there proved us right, and with a good strategy, I was in the top 5. Had I aligned my sectors (there are three timing sectors at each track) with my best time, I was even up in top 3. We changed to new tires for a second time, but as I got to the middle of Les Combles, the car oversteered (the back of the car sliding to the front), causing it to spin in the gravel! The test was over, and the car was returned to the pit.
Wednesday was the official parade day, a special event where the cars were driven through the city of Spa. Followed by the drivers’ briefing and then back to the track for the official Audi picture.
Thursday: free practice, pre-qualifying and qualifying. A complete disaster for the team! Too many red flags caused limited time on the track, but this was the same for all teams. Qualifying was a complete mess; we did not get it together! We qualified 48th overall out of 65 cars!
Saturday was race day! The biggest GT3 race in the world, the iconic 24 Hours of Spa, and every manufacturer wants to win, as it’s a showcase for their on-road cars. Porsche took the lead, and Benjamin started his way up. After a double stint, Antoine took the wheel. A good strategy during a full course yellow (maximum speed at 80 km/h), it allowed us to advance 18 places overall and 1st in class. I was next to take the wheel, and everything went according to plan until six laps into my stint. I went a little wide in turn 9, missing the apex by 1 meter, ending in the dirt. I put the throttle down. The car slightly oversteered. I correct it. But the correction was too pronounced, and the car hit the tire barrier … and into the gravel. I was pushed out and re-joined the boxes. The team fixed the car, and we lost three laps! I finished my stint gutted and disappointed.
The night came, and the car ran until 3am the following day when Benjamin, during a safety car procedure, hit the car in front, breaking the left suspension. He could not bring the car back to the pit, and it was over. That was it, and the team started to pack. By 1pm, we decided to leave with the cars still racing in the distance.
Time for a vacation! Hockenheim is only weeks away …
Read more about the racing team on Gstaad Automobile Club