Spa … in October!
Yes, the 24 hours of Spa were held in October … racing 13 hours in the night, rather than the usual 6-7 hours in July. The organizers should have had a Halloween party considering the weather and the time of the year. The conditions were treacherous. Dry, rain, humid, foggy, you name it. The only thing missing was the snow! On a serious note, we were lucky to race. During an interview with Belgium TV after my 7 am stint, I found out that the race had been close to being cancelled. A few days before the start of the long week, SRO (the organizer) had called the teams to possibly cancel the race. Teams had raised their concern should the race be canceled, with a number of them stating that they would go bankrupt should the race be cancelled! Covid has definitely brought havoc to our racing lives and livelihoods. You simply cannot avoid it. It is a human and political nightmare.
The start of the week was difficult. During the Bronze test I spun on top of Raidillon and escaped with a small brush off the wall, damaging the rear wing and splitter that was repairable. It was to be my only mistake the entire week. We continued with free practice, pre-qualifying and qualifying. The Pro-Ams where all clustered at the start of the race which was delayed due to a heavy crash from the previous race. A Lamborghini had hit part of a concrete wall, spun on the guard rail to finally stop its ordeal in a fence!
At the start of the race, we quickly went up the field, gaining close to 10 positions. At one point were were 2nd in class. We pushed during the entire 24 hours making some small mistakes, such as not respecting track limits and speeding in the pit lane, that costs us drive-throughs. We were able to keep the car on track without damage until 40 minutes before the end. Benjamin was hit and was stuck in the gravel. Luckily the marshals were able to pull him out and he rejoined the pits. The car was checked and some body parts taken off. The car was good to continue. We finished! 5th in class (out of 12), 25th overall (out of 53). Only 32 cars finished the race!!
I really need to thank everyone at Boutsen, from our chef, Ludo, our physio, Pierre, chief mechanic, Shogun, engineers, Jean-Noel and Benoit, Antoine, … Keke … Olivier, Olivia, Jens, Benjamin, Gilles … everyone, and I mean everyone, for a great race weekend. This is the second time in a row we finish! Congrats to all.
Next: Paul Ricard (depending on whether the french will allow us to race) on the 15 of November.
Be safe … be healthy,