Gary Paffett will descend on the iconic Belgian Ardennes this week to contest the biggest endurance racing challenge of his season: the 70th edition Total 24 Hours of Spa. Firmly established as one of the biggest endurance races in GT racing, the 4.352-mile undulating circuit is famous for its unpredictable weather and demanding corners like Eau Rouge and Pouhon.To add to further to the challenge, Gary will be competing against 64 cars across five different classes, with twenty-nine of those cars in Gary’s top-tier Pro Category.
2016 marked Gary’s debut at the Total 24 Hours of Spa when he and his #86 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG Team had an incredibly eventful race. Eventually bringing the car home in fifth place, Gary experienced all the trials and tribulations that come as part of the territory in endurance racing - experience he will lean on this week as he returns to Spa.
This week will see Gary racing in #84 Mercedes-AMG Team MANN-FILTER Mercedes-AMG GT3 alongside fellow DTM driver Edoardo Mortara and Dutch racing driver Renger van der Zande.
With his DTM season on its mid-season break, Gary is excited to compete in the second 24-hour race.
“I am looking forward to this classic race at one of the best circuits in the world. The Spa 24 Hours is one of the undisputed highlights in GT racing and a fantastic challenge for every racing driver. I made my debut in the race in 2016, where it was a real learning curve and I experienced all the ups-and-downs of endurance racing! I was able to drive the Mercedes-AMG GT3 again earlier in the month in the official test, so now, I am eager to find out what we can achieve in the race.”
The week starts with a 90-minute free practice session on Thursday at 10:45 (BST), followed later in the day by a 60-minute pre-qualifying session. A new qualifying format has been implemented for 2018 and takes place on Thursday evening. Starting at 19:50, there will be four 15-minute sessions, one for each driver (three-driver crews will bypass Q1).
The final qualifying time will be the average of the fastest laps set by each driver in their respective session, with the same criteria applied to three and four-driver crews. Should one driver fail to set a time, their car will start behind all of the cars that have set a full complement of times.
Superpole will then be contested on Friday at 17:30, where one driver is nominated from each team to determine the first 20 places on the grid. And, on Saturday, the main event finally arrives: at 15:30 the Total 24 Hours will begin its landmark 70th edition.