Sunday Sounds: 24 Hours of Spa

June 30, 2024

Motor racing isn’t just what most of us see on TV and the news which is F1. This world has many categories as well an annual events held each year and each has its fans. As someone new to the world of GT racing just over 7 years ago, I was a little confused at first, especially as our factory drivers raced for more than one team at times.

While most of the faces are of short duration (one to six hours), perhaps the events that are the most compelling are the 24 hour competitions. Teams of drivers compete to cover the greatest distance in a 24-hour period, testing the durability of vehicles, their stamina and the efficiency of their supporting pit and engineer crews. Here are some key features and details about 24-hour endurance races:

Key Features

  1. Duration:
    • The race lasts exactly 24 hours, typically starting and ending at the same time on consecutive days.
  2. Teams and Drivers:
    • Teams consist of multiple drivers, usually three to four, who take turns driving the vehicle in shifts. This allows drivers to rest and maintain focus during the grueling race.
  3. Classes and Vehicles:
    • Races often include multiple classes of vehicles, ranging from highly modified professional race cars to production-based vehicles. Each class competes for its own victory while also aiming for an overall win.
  4. Pit Stops:
    • Teams must manage regular pit stops for refueling, tire changes, mechanical repairs, and driver changes. Efficiency and strategy during pit stops are crucial to a team’s success.
  5. Endurance and Strategy:
    • Success in a 24-hour race requires a blend of speed, reliability, and strategic planning. Teams must balance the pace to avoid mechanical failures and manage tire and fuel consumption.

Famous 24-Hour Races

  1. 24 Hours of Le Mans (France):
    • The most famous 24-hour race, part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport. It takes place on the Circuit de la Sarthe and has been held annually since 1923.
  2. 24 Hours of Daytona (USA):
    • Known as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, it is held at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. It is a key event in the IMSA SportsCar Championship.
  3. 24 Hours Nürburgring (Germany):
    • Held on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, one of the most challenging circuits in the world. The race features a mix of professional and amateur drivers.
  4. 24 Hours of Spa (Belgium):
    • Held at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, it is a prominent race in the GT racing calendar and part of the GT World Challenge Europe. Perhaps my favourite track…

Challenges and Considerations

  1. Driver Fatigue:
    • Managing driver fatigue is critical. Teams use driver changes and rest periods to ensure drivers remain alert and focused.
  2. Mechanical Reliability:
    • Cars must endure continuous running for 24 hours, requiring robust engineering and regular maintenance during pit stops.
  3. Weather Conditions:
    • Races often encounter varying weather conditions, including rain and night driving, adding to the complexity and challenge.
  4. Team Coordination:
    • Effective communication and coordination among drivers, engineers, and pit crews are essential for success.
  5. Track Conditions:
    • Track conditions change over the course of the race, impacting tire performance and vehicle handling.

Historical Significance

  • Innovations and Development:
    • Endurance races have historically been a proving ground for automotive innovations and developments in engineering, safety, and performance.
  • Iconic Moments:
    • These races have produced numerous iconic moments and legendary performances, contributing to the rich history of motorsport.

I hope this gives you a taste of what such an event is like, but even if you cannot attend one in person, all races are covered online. 24-hour endurance races are a pinnacle of motorsport, showcasing the ultimate test of endurance, teamwork, and engineering excellence and yes watching these races gives me the shivers!

Sometimes, it just all comes together as it did today for Nicky Thiim and Marco Sorenson, two of the many talented Aston Martin Racing (AMR) drivers, who along with their Italian team mate Mattia Drudi, won this year. Everytime the cameras panned onto Nicki and Marco, you could see the emotions on their face and how much it meant to them. All races are special, but as a centennial race, I could not have wished for a better result for two drivers I have come to know over the years, ultimate professionals with a kindness and sense of humour that to me epitomises what makes AMR drivers so very special.

Safe journey home to you both and thank you for the magic this weekend !

Immun’Age – behind you all the way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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