TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa Preview
All you need to know ahead of this Saturday's big race....
The second round of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship visits the scenic and legendary Circuit Spa Francorchamps this weekend and will feature the biggest grid outside of the 24 Hours of Le Mans since
37 cars will grace the undulating Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the second biggest entry for a WEC race outside of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 24 nationalities of driver represented on the packed cosmopolitan grid.
Traditionally Spa has been the last race before the Le Mans 24 Hours and that tradition continues this season after last year’s brief calendar re-configuration.
But the challenge of the 7.04-kilometre challenge of Spa is just one of the key tests facing teams and drivers as they get set for six hours of typically exciting WEC action this Saturday afternoon when the 2022 TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will begin.
Hypercar – Will Toyota Fightback?
The 1000 Miles of Sebring-winning Alpine A480 Gibson entered by Alpine ELF Team heads the points tables after that memorable day in March when Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxivière triumphed.
They will hit the track in Spa determined to protect their early season points advantage after the team became the first French entered team to win a WEC race at Sebring. Les bleues will be looking to take that momentum on to Spa where the team previously celebrated a win in the 2016 LMP2 race.
Toyota Gazoo Racing arrives at the track based closest to its Cologne headquarters determined to recover quickly from a tough weekend at Sebring.
The mid-race red flag caused by Jose-Maria Lopez’s spectacular incident also affected a possible victory challenge of the No.8 Toyota GR010-Hybrid Hypercar of Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa and Brendon Hartley.
The squad will be aiming to add a sixth straight win at Spa in a streak which stretches all the way back to 2017.
Glickenhaus Racing continues to enrapture endurance racing fans around the world with its distinctive Glickenhaus 007LMH entry, which for Spa will see a significant change in its driver line-up.
The No.708 American-entered Hypercar will see reigning IMSA champion Pipo Derani join Romain Dumas and Olivier Pla in the cockpit.
Like several drivers on the grid this Saturday, Derani will arrive from last weekend’s Laguna Seca race where he finished third.
The Glickenhaus Hypercar will be making its first appearance at Spa and is sure to be a spectacular sight on the undulating sweeps.
LMGTE Pro – Who Can Topple Porsche?
The LMGTE Pro category has produced some sensational battles at Spa over the years and 2022 is not expected to be any different.
Porsche GT Team kicked off the season in fine style as Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen swept to a full house of points with a pole and win at Sebring.
Spa last season was the venue of one Estre’s best ever career performances and the French will be aiming once again to show his affinity with the rollercoaster circuit again this time around.
AF Corse claimed a low-key fourth and sixth place finish at Sebring but have tasted significant success before at Spa with wins in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Corvette Racing’s first ever full WEC season got off to an encouraging start at Sebring as Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner initially took the fight to Porsche in the striking Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.
While it will be Milner’s first visit to Spa, Tandy has enjoyed several success at the venue, notably the 2020 24 Hours of Spa.
LMP2 – United Autosport Hunt Spa Triple Crown!
The ultra-competitive LMP2 class sees a bumper 15 car entry this season with at least half of those entries expected to be challenging for category wins on a regular basis.
The clear kings of Spa in recent seasons are Sebring victors United Autosports USA. Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson will be aiming for a hat-trick of LMP2 wins this Saturday after successes in 2020 and last year.
But United Autosports own triple could also easily come from the No.23 entered car that took the big points at Sebring in a sensational debut for 16 year-old Joshua Pierson. He combined with Paul di Resta and Oliver Jarvis to execute an impressive victory.
Pierson and Jarvis will be joined for the rest of the season by Alex Lynn, who took victory at Spa in both LMP2 in 2017 and LMGTE Am in 2019.
The early points leaders will face a multiple challengers though this weekend as the likes of Prema Orlen Team, JOTA, WRT/Realteam by WRT and Team Penske are sure to be in the mix.
Sebastien Ogier will continue gathering LMP2 experience in the Richard Mille Racing entry he shares with Lilou Wadoux and Charles Milesi, while new to WEC teams Vector Sport
Vector will welcome highly experienced and decorated driver Sebastien Bourdais to its team, after Mike Rockenfeller stood in for the French ace at Sebring.
Bourdais, who makes his first appearance at Spa for a decade, joins Ryan Cullen and Nico Mueller for the rest of the 2022 campaign.
LMGTE-Am – Aston Again?
The highly competitive LMGTE Am category never fails to produce exceptional wheel-to-wheel action and the 2022 vintage looks set to be one of the closest in WEC’s decade long history.
Sebring provided evidence of this with a nail-biting race throughout the entire eight hour duration as Aston Matins, Ferraris and Porsches all took turns in the lead.
As ever the bronze categorised drivers were lynchpins in the overall result, and there is no finer evidence of this than Paul Dalla Lana who performed one of his best ever performances to seal a win for he and his Northwest AMR teammates – Nicki Thiim and WEC debutant, David Pittard.
Dalla Lana will hoping to carry that momentum into his happy hunting ground of Spa, a place where he has won four times before.
But he and his team will face stiff competition from both within the Aston Martin ranks and from Porsche and Ferrari entered teams.
The TF Sport run No.33 and No.777 D’Station run entries are expected to be at the sharp end, as are the No.46 Project 1 Porsche and No.77 Dempsey Proton Porsche duo.
Ferrari will also be a major threat as five of the growling 488 GTE Evo’s take to the track.
Bovy is one of two Belgian drivers to race at Spa this week, as experienced racer Jan Heylen is drafted into the No.88 Dempsey Proton Porsche.
When and How to Watch....
The 2022 TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa is scheduled to begin at 13.00 local time on Saturday May 6.
A full entry list is viewable HERE