Spa 24: SRT race report

SRT moral winners of the 24 Hours of Spa... SPA-Francorchamps. SRT has most probably driven the strongest race in its history during this 61st edition of the 24 Hours of Spa. The Belgian Corvette team had entered a strong quartet of...

SRT moral winners of the 24 Hours of Spa...

SPA-Francorchamps. SRT has most probably driven the strongest race in its history during this 61st edition of the 24 Hours of Spa. The Belgian Corvette team had entered a strong quartet of drivers, namely with regular drivers Bert Longin and James Ruffier, supported by the Brit Oliver Gavin and the young Belgian Maxime Soulet. Up until three hours from the finish this quartet battled it out at Spa with another Belgian Corvette for victory. Similar to a Greek tragedy one of the heroes had to go under and in this case it was an oil leak which held SRT back from clinching victory. "We finally finished 19th with our Corvette, but that's over and done with", is how Patrick Selleslagh summed up the race. "We have proved to everyone that we can compete at the highest level and we went down still fighting to the last. My thanks to the entire team, all our partners and the drivers."

The qualifying sessions on Thursday were difficult for all competitors. "That's right", Bert Longin confirmed. "The qualifying sessions all together lasted roughly some four hours; from seven thirty through until midnight, but after three dry laps the heavens opened up and it was all over. We were just completing a fast lap hoping to clinch pole, but wet asphalt isn't the ideal partner for a fast lap time ... It is quite unlikely that a four hour lasting session can be decided in the first few minutes, but that's how it transpired."

The race itself turned into an excellent battle between Maserati and Corvette, with SRT in a shining role. Right from the start Oliver Gavin went flat out and in the variable weather conditions the Brit showed his worth and skills. Maxime Soulet and Bert Longin also drove at a tight pace without committing the slightest error and the car bearing start number #3 was never out of the top-3. "Unbelievable, what a race", Bert Longin commented. "Half way through there were three of us within the same second, yes no kidding, not on the same lap or minute, quite simply within the same second... This must surely be a race for the annals of the GT race world. I have never experienced anything like it in my life."

After an excellent stint of Maxime Soulet around noon, Oliver Gavin suddenly called in to the pits with a smoking Corvette. An oil leak was at the base of the problem and notwithstanding brilliant work from the technical crew it was all over and done with. "The engine had suffered too much, we just managed to reach the finish, but this isn't a way to end such an unbelievable weekend", Gavin continues. "I'm truly disappointed for SRT, who produced such a fantastic weekend. It's a family team with a true fighting spirit and their Corvette C6.R was a brilliant car. Prior to the weekend certain people had their doubts about SRT being able to play a part up front in the race, but these people were grossly mistaken. They are as solid as steel, their strategy was perfect and the pit stops were quite simply brilliant. Notwithstanding the result I have a good feeling. Spa is in itself amazing, the weather conditions were a challenge and the race was top level. Thank you SRT..."

There was an unexpected remark which came after the race from reigning champion Andrea Bertolini. After the finish the Italian Maserati driver named the SRT as the moral winner of this race in Spa and also the winner Kurt Mollekens was full of praise for SRT during the official press conference "They helped to make this race one of the classics and deserved far more..", the winning Corvette driver commented.

"We are now ranked third in the championship and during the second half of the championship, there are still forty points to be scored, prove that we can carry on in this positive manner. Rendezvous in Hungary (Budapest) on 29th and 30th August", a tired Patrick Selleslagh concluded.

-credit: srt

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Andrea Bertolini , Bert Longin , Kurt Mollekens , Maxime Soulet , James Ruffier