THE PROXIMUS 24 HOURS OF SPA Edinburgh - 20 July 2006: The Proximus 24 Hours of Spa is without a doubt one of the world's toughest endurance races, held at a circuit described by Michael Schumacher as "the best circuit in the world". Combining...
THE PROXIMUS 24 HOURS OF SPA
Edinburgh - 20 July 2006: The Proximus 24 Hours of Spa is without a doubt one of the world's toughest endurance races, held at a circuit described by Michael Schumacher as "the best circuit in the world". Combining the unique challenges of the Spa-Francorchamps track with a gruelling 24-hour race should surely be enough to put anyone off, but the magic of Spa pulls people back year after year. The race was first held back in 1924 on the original 9.3 mile circuit on public roads, but has been held on the present track since 1979. There is a lot of history hanging in the air at Spa which is what creates such a unique atmosphere for this event.
The three GT2 Ferrari teams have won one race each so far this year so the scores are drawn and everyone wants to win. Scuderia Ecosse's driving team will be strengthened with the addition of Marino Franchitti and Allan Simonsen for the 24 Hours, providing the team with two formidable driver line-ups for the two Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari 430 GTs. Marino's racing career has seen the Scot competing in Grand Am, ALMS, FIA GT, Le Mans, LMS and British GT so he is no stranger to sportscar endurance racing. Allan is another sportscar regular with many successes to his name so both driver line-ups are strong.
Chris Niarchos: "My first two GT races were Snetterton and then Spa, back in 2003. My most recent race was at Snetterton and now I'm off to Spa. And I just won at Snetterton. Do you see the pattern?! Seriously though this is going to be great: there is no other circuit like Spa, nothing else flows the way Spa does and I think we have a good chance of winning there. Tim and I have just come out of a 24-hour race and Allan has a strong pedeigree with lots of Ferrari experience. The team are all up for it and everything looks good!"
Tim Mullen: "I'm sure every driver loves Spa; it's a fantastic track. I've done the 24 hour race there before (in 2003 and 2004) and I'd have to say it's probably harder than the Le Mans 24 Hours. There are a lot more corners and a lot more laps to do at Spa so the driver and the car never get a break. We have a strong team and our plan is to go steady rather than maximum attack. It's good to have Allan on board as I think he'll do a good job and it means we can go out and do fast laps if we need to. There's no reason why we can't expect a good result."
Allan Simonsen: "I'm really looking forward to this! I love Spa and I love the Ferrari 430. My team-mate and I are second in the European GT3 Championship in the 430 so I know the GT3 car well and it will be great to get in the GT2 car. Chris and I haven't driven together before but he has done a fantastic job this year, especially the third place at Le Mans and all the British wins. He's a top man! I know Tim well as we raced against each other in 2000 (Formula Palmer Audi) and were then team-mates in 2002 (British GT); he's a great guy and mega fast. The key to 24 hour racing is team work, I love it, and with the best team around - Scuderia Ecosse - I can't wait for the clock to start 23:59....."
Nathan Kinch: "This is an important race for us as there are so many points up for grabs. The result of the Spa 24 Hours has a massive effect on the final Championship positions so we need to make sure we get this right. I'm looking forward to this race as it's a great event with a good atmosphere and of course at a fantastic track."
Andrew Kirkaldy: "Spa is an awesome circuit and I know the 430 will be great there. The weather could easily play a part in the race as it's pretty rare to go a whole 24 hours there with no rain. It's hard to look at our chances overall; we have to score points at six hours, then at 12 hours, then we can think about winning after that!"
Marino Franchitti: "My first ever 24 hour race was at Spa and I also competed in Scuderia Ecosse's first-ever GT race, the Le Mans 1000kms in 2003, so it feels right to be doing this event with the team. I know Nathan and Andrew well; in fact I know most of the team, so we'll be able to get straight on with the job. I'm really looking forward to it as I love Spa and by all accounts the car is fantastic to drive."
Stewart Roden, Scuderia Ecosse Team Principal: "This is a real challenge for us. Physically this race is tougher that the Le Mans 24 Hours just because of the nature of the track. There are no Mulsanne straights to rest on; the drivers have to get into a good rhythm and give it 100% concentration at all times as it's a busy lap! It's a tough one for the team as well as the cars can come in very quickly. At Le Mans it is a four minute lap so there is usually plenty of warning of unscheduled pit-stops but this is a standard length lap so it could get interesting! Perhaps the biggest difference between this one and Le Mans is that we are running two cars so we are going to have to be on the ball."
The track action from Spa starts with Free Practice on Thursday morning. The Proximus 24 Hours of Spa starts on Saturday at 1600hrs.