Kaspersky Dominant in Spa, But All Hopes Dashed in the 14th Hour

Highlights

  • Impressive Pole Position Time of 2:17.390
  • A First Pole Position Start For Kaspersky Motorsport and Ferrari
  • A Tough Battle With 63 Other GT3 Cars
  • Kaspersky Motorsport Leads For Over 100 Laps
  • 14th Drama Dashes Hope of Spa 24 Win

The Spa 24 Hours race is the highlight of the GT racing calendar, the blue riband event of the Blancpain Endurance Series and a true festival of motorsport, showing just what these fantastic GT cars can do. It all takes place against the backdrop of what is undoubtedly Europe’s most scenic and challenging circuit – the iconic Spa Francorchamps.

Spa-Francorchamps usually involves rain, mist and fog, even in the height of summer! But today, the race was held in beautiful, hot and sunny conditions. And the sun seemed to shine on the #55 Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3, which was definitely one of the star performers for much of the weekend. With a crew made up of former F1 star Giancarlo Fisichella, official Ferrari driver James Calado and the vastly experienced Marco Cioci, there was every reason to be confident.

Unfortunately, with ten of the 24 hours remaining, Kaspersky Motorsport’s hopes of taking the win, which the team had deserved, were dashed. Cioci was at the wheel, dicing with a Mercedes and the two cars collided at the La Source hairpin, the first corner. Marco was able to drive on, but it was soon apparent that the coming together had damaged his front right suspension as he came into Raidillon, two corners later, the car went straight into the barrier, then it was Game over. Fortunately, Marco was uninjured.

Our white, red and green car was, as usual, immaculately prepared by AF Corse, using all the data gathered at previous rounds of the Blancpain Championship by Kaspersky Lab. The meticulous preparation paid off, as the Ferrari was quick right from the start of the weekend, meaning that the 55 car was in the Super Pole shoot out for the top places on the grid. James Calado proved why he is an official Ferrari driver, putting in a fantastic lap to take pole position!

For the race, our strategy involved each driver doing one stint, before switching to the longer “double stint” for the next part of the race. All was going to plan, with Fisichella in the car for the start. He immediately pulled out a slight advantage over the rest of the grid and held the lead until the first round of pit stops. When Calado took over driving duties, he extended that lead to around 20 seconds over the second placed runner. Cioci also led in his stint as the six hour mark ticked by. The drivers put in their double stints and all was going well until the fourteenth hour, when the collision happened that ended the race for the Kaspersky Motorsport team

This is what our drivers had to say:

Giancarlo Fisichella: “It was a difficult race and I have mixed feelings to be honest. I was hoping for a much better result today. We tried our best but things didn’t go our way. Obviously we had a great start in qualifying and the first part of the race when we were leading. It was fantastic to be in the lead and start from P1. This is very positive and I’d like to thank everyone – the engineers for setting the car up well and the mechanics for some very fast and precise pit-stops.”

James Calado: “Unfortunately we were unable to finish and my first 24h of Spa was a tough race. After qualifying in pole position and a great start from Giancarlo we lead the majority of the race. The car was handling extremely well and we were able to manage the tyres and maintain a comfortable lead. Unluckily for Marco he had contact with the Mercedes and that put us out the race. Despite the unlucky result, we had a positive weekend. Especially for myself, I took a lot of risks to get to where we were! At least we come away with some points, which are useful for the championship. I would like to thank everyone for their sacrifices and hard work over the last months to prepare for this race. We won’t give up; we came here with such a good car, which gives me faith in the team, so that I believe we will do it one day.”

Marco Cioci: “It’s very disappointing, because I thought it was going to be our day, as we had the pace to do it. However, once again we found out how hard is to win 24h of Spa. It’s just incredible. The car has been very good all weekend and the team did a fantastic job; all week we were impressed by the balance and efficiency. So to be out of the race like this is hard to take. It doesn’t seem possible. This race doesn’t want to come to us for some reason. Thanks everybody!”

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