Its been such a long time but Spa is always worth the wait!

Saturday, April 30, 2022


Almost three years to the day and we will finally be back out on the road again as we head down to Spa Francorchamps next week for the second round of the 2022 World Endurance Championship.

Much has of course changed since our last, memorable visit to the historical Belgium circuit back in 2019 as nothing short of blood, sweat and tears from the FIA WEC and their supporting partners has kept the world championship on track after the start of the pandemic just a year later to that round to where we are today. The thought back then of waking up to race day back then to find a heavy dusting of snow at the start and then torrential icing rain at the end is an experience hard to forget but then, that is one of the very reasons to travel to Spa if you have never been before!

Last time we were there, the racing commitment from Aston Martin Racing and its Partner teams was also somewhat different from what we find today as two factory supported GTE Pro entries were of course supported by two AMR Partner Team entries from both Northwest AMR and TF Sport. Today we simply have three GTE Am entries from both Northwest AMR and TF Sport teams after the financial situation within the parent company put paid to them defending their GTE Pro crown of 2020.

For these crews and teams, there was much to celebrate back in 2019 with a class win in GTE Pro for the #97 car of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin and a GTE Am P2 finish at the end for the older specification AMR Vantage #90 TF Sport car of Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Euan Hankey.

Moving back forward to this season and the track success has continued for the now, all turbo charged AMR Vantage GTE crews after the opening round of this season at Sebring International Raceway in March when the #98 Northwest AMR of Paul Dalla Lana, Nicki Thiim and David Pittard beat the pole setting #33 TF Sport AMR car of Ben Keating, Marco Sorenson, and Florian Latorre to take an early ten-point lead into this second round.

Since Sebring, we have also learned of the swapping out of Frenchman Latorre from the #33 TF Sport car in favour of Portuguese racer Henrique Chaves for the remainder of the FIA WEC season and including Le Mans in June. Reasons for that change will be (we assume) tactical or political after Latorre’s GTE debut in Florida left nothing obvious to consider but is something that still hasn’t been explained by the team.

After the 1000 miles of Sebring, we are back to a traditional six hours of Spa Francorchamps next Saturday with thirty-seven entries across the Hypercar, LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am classes now confirmed for the track action that begins on Thursday.

Joining the #98 Northwest AMR and #33 TF Sport Aston Martins in Belgium amongst the thirteen strong GTE Am class again will of course be the #777 D’Station Racing AMR of Satoshi Hoshino, Tomonobu Fujii and Charlie Fagg after their sixth placed finish at Sebring with their new for 2022 driver line up.

Whereas we certainly do not want to see any repeat of last year’s Free Practice incidents and accidents for the AMR runners, Qualifying and race pace was good for these cars last time out although this time out, the #98 and #33 cars do of course have the benefit of their winning last time out success ballast to contend with – 30kg over their base weight for the #98 crew and 20kg more for the #33 crew. The #777 car will just need to stop the unforced errors and resulting penalties and they too could easily move up the order at Spa.

Despite all the additional paperwork and certification that appears still to be required to travel and media accreditation these days, it will certainly be good to get back to Spa!!

Photo credits – AMR / WEC
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