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Pirelli at the heart of the action at the majestic Spa track for the one hundredth edition of the 24 Hours

With a 67 car field and over 150 Pirelli personnel on site, this is the biggest event of the year for the Italian company. Since last year, the track has been partially resurfaced. Braga: “Important to deliver consistent performance whatever the weather”

Spa-Francorchamps – WEBWIRE
Photo credit: SRO/JEP
Photo credit: SRO/JEP

Pirelli is the sole tyre supplier for this 100th edition of the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. The endurance race taking place on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 June is held at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, widely regarded as one of the ultimate tests of man and machine. It is one of the biggest events in the world to have a single tyre supplier and this represents an unparalleled logistical and manpower effort from Pirelli.

Apart from the 67 cars entered in the Belgian round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS and International GT Challenge, the Italian company is also supplying all the cars in the support categories, namely Fanatec GT2 European Series Powered by Pirelli, GT4 European Series Powered by Rafa Racing Club and McLaren Trophy Europe, along with some of the historic cars in the two revival series, Endurance Racing Legend and Heritage Touring Cup.

The incredible number of cars taking part this weekend has no equal in any other car racing series in which Pirelli has long been involved and over 150 Pirelli personnel are on duty – technical, commercial and marketing - coming from headquarters from three different continents. They make up an experienced team, along with a few trainees and for the past ten years, they have been a vital cog in the machine of the SRO-branded 24 Hours of Spa.

All the GT3 cars entered in the Crowdstrike 24 Hours of Spa, representing nine different car makers and split into five classes, depending on the level of experience of the crews, will use P Zero DHF tyres on a dry track and Cinturato WHF if it is wet. The most numerous are the Mercedes-AMG of which there are 14, followed by 12 Porsche 911, while there will be seven BMW M4 looking to defend their 2023 title. The rest of the grid is made up of Aston Martin Vantage AMR, Ford Mustang, Ferrari 296, Lamborghini Huracan, McLaren 720S and Audi R8 LMS.

Every car can use a maximum of 30 sets of dry weather tyre for the whole race weekend. For qualifying, each driver can use just one set of tyres per session specifically allocated to them. Cars that make it to the Superpole get an extra set which they must return at the end of the session. There is no limit to the number of sets of rain tyres that can be used over the weekend. Teams are free to decide when to use them, once the track is declared wet. Tyre heaters can be used.

The nerve centre of the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa is the Pirelli tyre fitting area, in the middle of the paddock. There are 12 lines of fitting machines and every stage of the fitting process is monitored in real time. It starts with a request from the teams, entered on a touch screen on an order kiosk. Then a proprietary IT system sorts the tyres onto the different assembly lines based on their availability and workload. Back in the pits, teams can follow the different fitting stages and can see when their sets are ready for collection. This means mechanics can get on with their work in the garages, reducing waiting times at the Pirelli area and optimising team resources.

Matteo Braga, Pirelli Motorsport Circuit Activity Manager:

“Endurance races are usually won or lost on car reliability and the ability of the entire car-tyre package to perform consistently and the 24 Hours of Spa is no exception to that rule. Recent past races show that the podium places are up for grabs right to the final part of the race: last year, the top three finished within about ten seconds or so of one another. In these situations, the tyres must deliver strong performance over an entire stint but also produce performance peaks when required. That’s a tough task on the Spa-Francorchamps track with its long straights and fast corners that put considerable forces through the tyres. Furthermore, the circuit’s location in the Ardennes forest is known for its unpredictable weather. It’s not uncommon to have very hot conditions followed by heavy rain and a significant drop in temperature. The teams must therefore work out how to deal with a wide range of conditions, while keeping the tyres in their operating window, even when the track is wet or drying, or during the tough night time conditions. It’s not an easy task, but it’s one that can make the difference during the race.”

This year there is a further unknown factor in that a large part of the track has been resurfaced. There’s a long stretch from the Blanchimont corner, through the Bus Stop chicane, ending at La Source, while the Kemmel straight and the corners at Les Combes, Rivage and Stavelot have also been resurfaced. The drivers will therefore face different track conditions to those they have encountered over the previous three years and that could affect car performance, producing faster lap times. Therefore, gathering data during the test sessions over the coming days will be vital.

At 16:30 on Saturday, Endurance racing legend, Jacky Ickx will wave the Belgian flag to start the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. Before that there are four qualifying sessions and night time free practice on Thursday, starting at 20:35. The Superpole is on Friday at 15:45 and the warm-up starts at 20:10. The event is the third and penultimate round of the International GT Challenge and the fourth round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, series for which Pirelli is the sole tyre supplier.


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