On the eve of his fourteenth appearance in the 24 Hours of Spa, Andrea Bertolini is looking forward to the great Belgian classic with the enthusiasm of a rookie, even though his wealth of experience has few equals. The official Ferrari Competizioni GT driver is betting heavily on the result of this 24 Hours to gain crucial championship points.
It will be an exceptional 24 Hours, unprecedented in many ways.
“Every 24 hours is different from the others, but this year it is even more so given the period and the temperatures. The level in the Pro-Am category has risen a lot over the years, and it’s really very competitive. We have everything we need to do well because Niek and Louis are fast, and Daniel is powerful. Like in all 24 hours, we have to be good at being consistent and not being in the wrong place at the wrong time because we mustn’t forget that luck plays an important role in this kind of race. Having said that, we are energised and confident. The car is performing well, and all four of us are happy with the set-up in both dry and wet conditions, so if the weather changes we will be ready”.
What makes Spa-Francorchamps special?
“I’ve always liked it. In previous years, when I raced in different cars and categories, it was an interesting race. However, since it became exclusively for GT3s for me it is the loveliest because all the cars are in the same class, the level is very high, and it is spectacular. It’s not like other races where there are also prototypes, and so you have to be almost better at getting overtaken to lose less time than concentrating on passing those in front of you. From the driving point of view, the circuit is really spectacular, but at the same time it requires a lot of physical training”.
What’s the secret to winning the 24 Hours of Spa?
“There’s no secret, no magic formula. To win you need various factors: the crew has to be the top, the team has to be perfect, the car has to be good like ours, without forgetting luck, because if you lack that, you don’t win”.
Would you rather drive by day or night at Spa?
“I like driving at night, it’s always been a plus point for me. Driving at Spa is nice even though the lighting has increased in recent years, which is important on the safety front, but it’s taken away the driver’s chance to make a difference. In the years we raced here in GT1, the cars couldn’t count on a particularly powerful lighting system, but the track itself was much darker. Those who were comfortable in these conditions could make the difference, while today there is more light at crucial points of the track and less of a chance to make the difference”.
What’s the best turn at Spa, in your opinion?
“Undoubtedly Eau Rouge, because it’s the loveliest turn in the world. However, when you cross the finish line with the best time, the whole track is thrilling, and gives you great pleasure”.
The Barcelona race closed the Sprint Cup season. How would you rate it?
“The season has been good even though we lost a few points which probably would have kept us in the title fight until the end. However, contacts can happen in sprint races, but we won important points for the overall championship. As everyone knows, both Spa and Paul Ricard will be crucial in terms of the extra points on offer, so we should try to be practical and secure important points”.