by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte
e-mail: mercedesbenzblog@gmail.com

Four SLS AMG GT3 in start positions at the endurance classic: 24 Hours of Spa - Bernd Schneider supports customer team Preci-Spark

Three AMG Customer Sports Teams take part in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium). The race teams Black Falcon, KRK Racing and Preci-Spark will enter four SLS AMG GT3 for the endurance classic on the 28th and 29th of July. At the same time, AMG brand ambassador Bernd Schneider will support the customer sports team Preci-Spark of the ProAm category: The five-time DTM champion will share the cockpit of the gullwing car with the British brothers David and Godfrey Jones.

Three AMG customer sports teams confidently enter the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 for the race which is the season’s highlight of the Blancpain Endurance Series. The British race team Preci-Spark announces the participation of a first class driver: AMG from Affalterbach supports the British team with its brand ambassador Bernd Schneider. The five-time DTM champion, ITC overall winner of 1995 and FIA GT world champion of 1997 will drive a gullwing car together with the team founders and twins David and Godfrey Jones (both 59 years of age) as well as Mike Jordan (54 years of age), also British.

Ola Källenius, managing director of Mercedes-AMG GmbH: “We are very pleased about Bernd Schneider’s supporting the team Preci-Spark in the classic 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, above all, because David and Godfrey Jones were the first customers who received a SLS AMG GT3. We wish them lots of success in the Ardennes.”

Bernd Schneider: “I am very pleased about cooperating with the British team Preci-Spark. Firstly, because I will be facing the competition in this year’s 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps only for the third time after 1988 and 1989, and secondly, because I am the youngster of the team with 48 years of age!”

KRK Racing, Black Falcon and Preci-Spark faced the competition

The Belgian race team KRK Racing enters a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 for the race in their home country, with Rafael Vanthoor as their driver. The Limburg team intend the Belgians Anthony Kumpen and Koen Wauters as well as Dennis Retera (NED) to be the partners of the team leader.

Black Falcon from the Eifel even brings two gullwing cars to the Belgian Ardennes. In one Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED), Bret Curtis (USA) and Steve Jans (LUX) share the cockpit. The car with race number 18 will also be supported by “Franky” Congfu Cheng (CN), the former Chinese Mercedes-Benz DTM and A1 GP driver. Race number 19 is piloted by a German-British quartet of drivers: Oliver Morley (GB), Manuel Metzger and Stephan Rösler share the cockpit with Kenneth Heyer (all GER), who won the third position in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps of 2011.

All three AMG Customer Sports Teams take start positions in the 24 Hours in Spa-Francorchamps in the Pro/Am Cup: In this event, professionals and amateur racers share the cockpit.

Exceptional natural race track with a long tradition

Besides the Nürburgring-Nordschleife („north loop“), the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is considered the most beautiful and challenging natural race track in the world. The original triangular course was made up by 14.8 kilometres of public highway between the municipalities of Spa, Malmedy and Stavelot. Already in the 1930s, Rudolf Caracciola and Hermann Lang won in the Belgian Grand Prix on this track in Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows of the W 25 and W 154 generations.

Since 1979, the pilots face their competitors on a shortened version of the track, which is currently 7.0 kilometres long. The traditional course in the Belgian Ardennes is among the favourite tracks of many drivers, for example, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS driver Michael Schumacher. Turns like Eau Rouge, Blanchimont or La Source have a legendary reputation.

The 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps are considered one of the classics in the international endurance race calendar. They were first held in 1924 – one year prior to the first Belgian Grand Prix. Just as Formula 1, the touring cars and GT race cars experienced a change in course towards modernity in 1979. For this year’s 24-hour race, almost 70 cars are stated according to the FIA GT3 regulations.

In this year, the classic is part of the Blancpain Endurance Series as fourth race of the season. In view of the marathon distance and the meaningful history of the race, it is logic that this race is of particular importance. Two times the number of championship points, compared to the other races of the Blancpain Endurance Series, are given for the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. The following mode is applied: According to the positions after six and twelve hours, the organizers each give away a third of the Spa points, which makes up exactly the same number as in any ordinary race of the season. The second half of the points, which is also equal to the full score of a „normal“ race, is given away according to the final result.

The event begins with training sessions on Thursday, 26th July 2012. The start of the 24-hour race takes place on Saturday, 28th July at 4 o’ clock in the afternoon.

Review: top-three finish for AMG Customer Team Black Falcon in 2011

One year ago, the first race of the SLS AMG GT3 at the Belgian endurance classic ended with a top-three finish. With the top-three position of race number 35 of Black Falcon, AMG successfully rounded off a special anniversary: It was exactly 40 years ago that Hans Heyer, father of Kenneth Heyer, had surprisingly made the class victory and the second overall position in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in the first and highly respected race of the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG. In remembrance of this success, the SLS AMG GT3 of Black Falcon started with the same red layout as well as the same race number.

In the race two times around the clock, Black Falcon with Kenneth Heyer / Thomas Jäger / Stéphane Lémeret gained the third position. The sister car with Andrii Lebed / Bret Curtis / Peter van der Kolk / Jeroen van der Heuve finished twelfth. The English twins David and Godfrey Jones also put emphasis on the potential of the gullwing car. The twins, at that time 58 years of age, finished seventh together with their “junior” partner Mike Jordan, 53 years of age.

The KRK-Racing Team Holland with Rafael Vanthoor / Marius Ritkes / Bernhard van Oranje / Dennis Retera had to start from the end of the field after a training accident and crossed the finish line 16th with the gullwing car. After the twelfth rank in the qualifying, the car of the team with Mike Hezemans / Anthony Kumpen / Koen Wauters, which had been faster until that time, had to end the race after an accident. Both of the vehicles of Graff Racing, which had entered the race from start positions nine and 18, retired from the race after round 364 and 367.

More information about the race: www.total24hours.com .



* Official photos and details courtesy of Mercedes-AMG GmbH *

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