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    Ferrari 296 GT3 makes 24 Hours of Spa debut


Five Ferraris will line up for the most iconic round of the GT World Challenge Europe – Endurance Cup, the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, over the weekend of 1-2 July.

    Maranello 26 giugno 2023

    Five Ferraris will line up for the most iconic round of the GT World Challenge Europe – Endurance Cup, the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, over the weekend of 1-2 July. First held in 1924 and now in its 75th edition, the race on the 7.004-kilometre track in the Ardennes Forest will include four 296 GT3s – the car’s first appearance in the demanding Belgian event – and one 488 GT3 Evo 2020. Eight Maranello official drivers, including Antonio Fuoco and Nicklas Nielsen, will feature following on from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the 499P Hypercars took the victory, the Hyperpole, and the best race time. Lilou Wadoux, winner on the same track in round three of the FIA WEC 2023 in the LMGTE Am, will also start. The race will kick off at 4.30 p.m. on Saturday, 1 July (local time).

    Pro Class. Two Ferrari 296 GT3s will appear in the top category in the colours of AF Corse – Francorchamps Motors, driven by Prancing Horse official drivers. Daniel Serra, Davide Rigon and Antonio Fuoco will line up in the number 71 car after finishing fifth in the 1000-kilometre race at the Paul Ricard over the first weekend of June. This was round two of the Endurance Cup after the opening event at Monza. The Belgian team will also field a second Ferrari in red livery with yellow details, the number 51. Its crew, Alessio Rovera, Robert Shwartzman and Nicklas Nielsen, seventh in France, will try to win the extra championship points up for grabs in this race. The two crews sit seventh and ninth in the Endurance Cup driver’s standings ahead of the 24 Hours, on 12 and 10 points, respectively

    Other classes. In the Bronze category, AF Corse returns to Spa-Francorchamps with two cars. Simon Mann, Belgium’s Ulysse de Pauw, last year’s Silver Cup champion in the GT WC Europe Sprint series, Nicolas Varrone and Julien Piguet, will share the 296 GT3 number 50. Andrea Bertolini and teammates Louis and Jef Machiels, who finished second at Le Castellet, will be joined in the 488 GT3 Evo 2020 number 52 by Lilou Wadoux.

    The 22-year-old Frenchwoman also stars in this season’s FIA World Endurance Championship, where, alongside Rovera, she celebrated a historic class victory in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. The race ran in April in challenging weather, with the traditional rain making it even trickier for the drivers on a track marked by frequent ups and downs and 20 turns.

    In the Pro-Am class, ST Racing with Rinaldi will deploy Isaac Tutumlu, Samantha Tan, Jon Miller and Leonard Weiss in the 296 GT3 number 38, which achieved a podium finish at Paul Ricard. 

    History and roll of honour. The 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps dates back to 1924, debuting twelve months after the inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans, in an era when endurance racing was not only against the clock but also involved the physical endurance of the drivers and the reliability of the racing cars in the early days of motor racing.

    The first Ferrari victory came in 1949 with the 166 MM of Luigi Chinetti and Jean Lucas.

    Now restricted to GT3 class cars (71 crews in 2023; the race is also valid as the third round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge), in recent years, the Prancing Horse has enjoyed several wins. In 2021, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Nicklas Nielsen, with Côme Ledogar, celebrated an overall victory with the 488 GT3 Evo 2020, with the Italian three-time world champion making the decisive overtaking move a few minutes from the finish line. The same car also recorded three more class wins in 2019, 2021 and 2022, the latter when Bertolini, Rovera, L. Machiels and Stefano Costantini climbed the top step of the podium in the Pro-Am. Bertolini, who has claimed two overall victories in the historic Belgian race (in 2006 and 2008), also took three class wins alongside Louis Machiels.

    The programme. After the tests for Bronze licensed drivers on Tuesday, 27 June, the track programme will continue on Thursday, 29, with two free practice sessions, pre-qualifying and qualifying. On Friday, 30 June, the Superpole will decide the grid for the 24 Hours, which will set off at 4.30 p.m. on Saturday, 1 July (local time).