> Porsche squad quickest in official testing ahead of 22-25 October event
> Test days provide crucial running ahead of unique autumnal contest
> Two-day programme sees 50 cars tackle 7km circuit
GPX Racing made the ideal start to its bid for back-to-back wins at the Total 24 Hours of Spa by recording the fastest time during this week's official test days with its #12 Porsche.
The Dubai-based squad returned the Stuttgart marque to the top step of the podium last year and is now seeking to become the first team since 2006 to successfully defend its victory in the Ardennes. Mathieu Jaminet set a 2m18.337s lap during Tuesday night’s session, which continued until 22.00 and gave competitors significant running after dark at Spa-Francorchamps in preparation for the October 22-25 event.
A different car and brand topped each of the five sessions during two days of extensive testing. Second overall was the #10 Boutsen Ginion Racing BMW, which registered a 2m18.929s in the hands of factory driver Jens Klingmann to emerge fastest on Tuesday afternoon. It was the ideal way for the Belgian squad to cap a day on which it unveiled its stunning 'art car' livery designed Peter Halley to the world.
Audi Sport Team Attempto paced Tuesday morning's rain-affected session with its #66 entry, which has been confirmed as one of four cars that will compete with official support from the Ingolstadt marque at this year's race. The #72 SMP Racing Ferrari led the way on Wednesday morning with a 2m19.093s, while the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes emerged fastest in the final session thanks to a 2m19.318s lap.
The test was run in the variable weather conditions for which Spa is famous. Tuesday morning began on a wet track, but with the skies clearing and the sun emerging after lunch there was an opportunity for significant dry running. Damp conditions and cooler temperatures returned early on Wednesday before a dry line emerged as the lunch break approached. Rain started to fall once more in the afternoon, preventing any significant improvements during the final session.
The test was staged just three weeks before teams arrive back at the 7km circuit for the 72nd running of the Belgian endurance classic and saw a total of 50 cars log vital data ahead of next month's race. With a later-than-usual place on the calendar, this was more crucial than ever as competitors prepare to tackle the new challenge of autumn in the Ardennes. Indeed, the work done this week could be the difference between victory and defeat come the afternoon of October 25.