Strong Performance and Suspense until the Last Minute of the 24 Hours of Spa
The highlight of the Blancpain Endurance Series took place at the 7,004-m track in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium last weekend. 67 cars were entered by teams from all over the world who wanted to take part in this spectacular event. Four drivers shared the cockpit of the Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo LP600+: Marc A. Hayek (CEO and president of Blancpain, CHE), Peter Kox (NLD), Jos Menten (NLD) and Albert von Thurn und Taxis (DEU).
The qualifying promised an exciting and tight race. Twelve cars set times within one second, grabbing the best start positions. Peter Kox (NLD) took P7 in the overall standings for Hans Reiter’s team (Reiter Engineering, DEU), securing the fourth row in this strong grid. Competing in the Pro-Am class, the team placed third.
The “super pole” qualifying session on Friday was cancelled due to severe weather. The top 20 qualifiers from Thursday’s session were supposed to do a pole shootout in that “super pole” session. However, the cancellation meant the grid would line up as it qualified on Thursday.
The busy grid walk and the start of the race at 4 p.m. took place in dry conditions. However, it did not take long until the strong rain started again, resulting in several accidents and no less than sixteen safety car phases. Therefore, the rhythm of the drivers and teams was consistently interrupted.
Maintaining a place in the top group right from the start, the team led the Pro-Am class for several hours. The drivers handled the difficult conditions very well and kept the Gallardo on the partly flooded track.
The car was forced to pit shortly after midnight due to a broken wheel nut and later on due to a damaged wheel bearing. Therefore it lost many places. In P22 in the overall standings after the repairs, the team had managed to push forward to P9 by sunrise (P4 in the Pro-Am class) and continued to keep up with the cars in the top group.
There was a heart-stopping moment shortly before the end of the race when Marc A. Hayek, who had taken over for the last stint, radioed that he had collided with a part lying on the track. As a precaution, the Swiss pitted for a check and then completed the last laps with a damaged front splitter.
At the end of the race at 4 p.m., the Gallardo #24 drove across the finish line in P6 (P11 in the overall standings).
Marc A. Hayek: “It was a great race with an excellent result, despite our small technical problems and the bad weather. The team did a fantastic job. They were focused and very quick with the necessary repairs”.
Peter Kox: “My start was good and I kept up with the top group. Finishing the race was important to us and we succeeded, achieving a fantastic result. We are just a small team and we compete against the other big manufacturers which worked out well. The team did an excellent job and the car was perfectly prepared for the event. Hans (Reiter) was the race engineer and he also developed the strategy. That was perfect and worked well up until the end”.
Jos Menten: “Our start into the race was great and we were aware of the fact that we would achieve a good result if we managed to complete the race. We actually had a good chance of a place on the podium and we proved that the Lamborghini is not only able to complete a race but that it can keep up with the other competitors. We lost a few places due to some small things but we will be back next year and then we will be even stronger”.
Albert von Thurn und Taxis: “It was my first 24-hour race and a fantastic experience. At first, I was a little sceptical. I am not used to sharing the track with and having to overtake so many cars. Doing that without losing too much time is a real challenge. We are able to keep up with the competitors and defend ourselves against the professionals. A 24-hour race is a completely different experience. It is not about pushing constantly but about driving the car at a high pace for 24 hours without overworking it. Hans (Reiter) had a great strategy which the team implemented effectively. A big complement to everyone involved!”
Hans Reiter (team principal): “It was a perfect weekend for us. I was pretty surprised about the fact that we were able to keep up at such a high level. We were at the top after the first 6 hours which shows our fantastic pace. Neither the drivers nor the team made any mistakes and everybody deserves praise. We had two technical problems which is too bad. However, we will continue working in order to avoid things like that and to be able to win races”.
Source: Reiter Engineering