The Aston Martin Vantage GT3 will fight for honors in three classes of this weekend’s TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, as the luxury sportscar brand and its partner team Garage 59 bid to record an outright victory in the famous Belgian endurance event for the first time.
The Spa 24 Hours is a special race. Among the most grueling of all the prestigious 24-hour endurance contests, it is unique in that it is only open to FIA-homologated GT3 specification racing cars. Add to that a huge 60-car field, the unpredictable nature of the Ardennes weather, and the fact that Spa-Francorchamps is one of the toughest examinations of a drivers’ skill anywhere, and you have perhaps the most coveted GT prize in motorsport.
Garage 59 come to the event as the reigning GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Pro-Am Team and Drivers’ champions and have added a brand new 4-liter V8 turbocharged Aston Martin Vantage GT3 to their regular two-car squad, having worked closely with the Aston Martin Racing factory to optimize all three cars and crew in the build-up to the blue riband event.
The familiar #95 race number returns to a top-level Aston Martin ‘Pro’ entry for the first time in 2021, and heralds the return of the ‘Dane Train’ – FIA GT world champions Nicki Thiim (DEN) and Marco Sørensen (DEN) – who will spearhead the challenge for overall honors alongside IMSA GTD championship leader Ross Gunn (GBR), who has won twice already this season in the U.S. This will mark Sørensen’s debut in the Spa 24 Hours, but for Thiim it is a return to the scene of his famous Pro-Am victory with TF Sport in 2019.
Competing in the Spa 24 Hours is a big tick on the bucket list and one I have wanted to do for a long time. To be re-joining Nicki in the car will almost feel like there hasn’t been a break since Bahrain when we won the world championship. I know Ross will get the job done, so this feels like a really strong team. I would like to thank Garage 59 for the opportunity, and after the recent test I am sure this is a team that is capable of giving us a car that can go for the win!Marco Sørensen
Alongside the ‘Pro’ car, the reigning Pro-Am champions in the #188 Vantage, Alexander West (SWE), Chris Goodwin (GBR) will be joined by another 2019 Spa 24 Hour Pro-Am winner, Charlie Eastwood (IRL). The #188 entry has been in contention for the past two seasons and recorded Garage 59’s first podium in the race last year with third in Pro-Am. The team’s other regular works driver Jonny Adam has been forced to withdraw from the event having tested positive for Covid-19. His place will be taken by Marvin Kirchhöfer (DEU).
The Silver #159 entry is comprised of AMR Academy graduate Valentin Hasse-Clot (FRA) as well as two of the 2021 Academy’s candidates Nicolai Kjærgaard (DEN) and Tuomas Tujula (FIN). The crew is completed by the experienced GT racer and team regular Alex MacDowall (GBR).
Garage 59 team principal and co-owner Andrew Kirkaldy said: “The 24 Hours of Spa is the hardest race of the season, on the people and the cars, but I’m very happy to be running the extra car in the Pro class this year. The support we are receiving from Aston Martin Racing began at the official Spa test a few weeks ago and the full team gelled very quickly so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do together as one team in the race.”
AMR President, David King, said: “Ever since the current Vantage GT3 was introduced in 2019 it has been a competitive force in high profile GT events around the world and Garage 59 has been at the forefront of its success. I am confident that the step up to a Pro class entry for the Spa 24 hours will demonstrate the combined expertise of Garage 59 and Aston Martin Racing, and further advance the reputation of the Vantage as the car of choice for success in international GT3 racing.”
Practice and Qualifying for the TotalEnergies Spa 24 Hours begin on Thursday, July 29th while the race itself starts on Saturday, July 31st at 1630 (CET).
Note: Press release courtesy of Aston Martin Racing.