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24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
- Four sprint races and a 24-hour marathon within three weeks for Manthey EMA's green-yellow Porsche 911 - Intensive three-week schedule for the Manthey EMA GT team - Preparation for the 24 Hours of Spa demands full commitment and logistical excellence - Livestream on the website www.intercontinentalgtchallenge.com
Meuspath. Manthey EMA will be competing in the 75th edition of the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, running the same Porsche 911 GT3 R that competes in the DTM with starting number 90. But not only the car is the same as in the DTM. The crew is also taking on the challenge of three consecutive race weekends, including the world's most significant GT3 race, the endurance classic in the Belgian Ardennes. The number 92 car will be driven by Julien Andlauer (France), Kévin Estre (France) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium).
This will be an intense few weeks for the Manthey EMA GT team, who are running two Porsche 911 GT3 R in the DTM this season. These are the same cars that also contest endurance classics such as the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps. In May, the DTM season opener took place immediately after the 24-hour race in the "Green Hell". Now, the 24 Hours of Spa are held right after the DTM race at Zandvoort and before rounds five and six at the Norisring. This requires not only a complete conversion of the car from sprint to endurance and vice versa, but also precise logistical planning.
Immediately after the chequered flag fell at Zandvoort last Sunday, the first truck was packed with two-thirds of the equipment needed for Spa and rolled out of the paddock in the Dutch dunes towards the Ardennes with some of the field crew at 6.30 pm. The 911, driven by Dennis Olsen in the DTM, followed the next morning with the rest of the crew. At the same time, a truck left for Meuspath to load the missing third of the equipment, consisting of endurance-specific items, before heading to Spa.
With the arrival of the vehicle in the paddock at Spa-Francorchamps on Monday afternoon, the overhaul and conversion of the Porsche from a sprint to an endurance car began immediately. For endurance racing, this means the replacement of chassis parts, the powertrain as well as tuning work. In addition, there are minor modifications that a 24-hour race entails, such as the hydration system, the camera system, the telemetry, a different data logging system required by the organisers, and the identification features, which include the light bar and the lighting of the starting number.
In addition to the same vehicle, the same crew is also responsible for all the entries of the two Porsche 911 GT3 R. From the preparation to the conversion to the entry, everything is done by the same people. Parallel to the race in Spa, part of the crew is already preparing the second 911 in Meuspath for the DTM race from 7 to 9 July at the Norisring.
In terms of engineering, the preparation for a 24-hour race differs significantly from a sprint race in terms of strategy. While at a DTM weekend the focus is on qualifying and the set-up that enables the drivers to achieve a perfect lap, durability and performance over a long run play a central role at an endurance race. For this, many strategic components have to be prepared precisely. How do we approach the start? How do we divide up the race? How much risk do we take at what time? These are the key questions for the engineers on the pit wall.
Quotes on the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps:
Nicolas Raeder, Managing Director Manthey Racing GmbH: "Like the endurance classics at the Nürburgring or Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Spa is a very demanding race. We have come to Spa with high expectations, but with over 70 GT3 cars in the field, a bit of luck is also part of the equation. On top of that, we have the challenge of three consecutive race weekends. That doesn't make things any easier and I'm very proud of the whole team for their motivation to get through this programme. We have a very good driver line-up behind the wheel here at Spa, and we are understanding the new GT3 R better and better. I'm very confident that we'll get it right here at Spa.”
Christian Moch, Chief Mechanic GT Team Manthey Racing GmbH: "I think that what we are doing here is only possible with the team we have. Everyone is highly motivated and always gives 110 per cent. Of course, the long working days and little time at home take their toll, but everyone is fully committed. For me, we have the best crew, without whom such a marathon would not be possible. The dedication of each and every one of them, here on the track and in the workshop in Meuspath, is what makes us so successful and strong. And I hope we can show that again in Spa.”
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