Inception Racing narrowly miss out on podium at the 24 Hours of Spa
Inception Racing secured fourth place in the newly formed Gold Cup class in the 74th running of the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, just 5 seconds shy of claiming the final podium spot.
The 66-car field meant that come Thursday’s qualifying, finding gaps on track proved quite the challenge. The weekend’s quali followed the usual Fanatec format however, this time included four, 15-minute sessions, with one driver contesting in each. The qualifying session brought red flags as in each practice session, thus, adding to everyone's challenges.
Inception Racing’s quartet of Brendan Iribe, Sebastian Priaulx, Ollie Millroy and Frederik Schandorff delivered seventh place on the Gold Cup grid (41st overall) for the #7 McLaren for Saturday evening’s race start.
Fred was in the hotseat for the start of the 24-hour race, moving up to third in class as he clocked the overall top speed up Eau Rouge at 247 km/h. A puncture on Barwell's class-leading Lamborghini Huracán 40 minutes into the race was the first of many tyre failures across the field, with 3 full course yellow and 2 Safety Car periods within the first three hours - you could say it was an action-packed start for sure!
Having cycled through their usual routine of driver change, fresh tyres and refuel, Fred was back in the car as Saturday turned into Sunday. A puncture for the Dane as the clock struck midnight saw him make a last-minute stop for a quick change to Ollie, and a new set of tyres of course.
The early hours of the morning proved quite the challenge for the remaining contenders, with a big crash at Blanchimont putting a pause to the track action, seeing all cars return to the pits under parc fermé conditions.
45 minutes later and cars were lined up along the main straight for the restart. 12 hours complete and with 12 hours to go, Seb (Silver driver and 24 Hours of Spa debutant) sat seventh within class, claiming 4 points for the team (5 points were also scored at the 6-hour stage).
Sun peeked through the clouds come Sunday morning as Brendan jumped back into the McLaren machinery to complete his minimum driver time. As one third of the race remained, he battled Michelle Gatting in the Iron Dames’ Ferrari up Eau Rouge. Although we were multiple laps down, it was great to race alongside the eventual Gold Cup winners and history makes as the first all-female line up to claim a Spa 24H victory.
Three hours remained and with both Seb and Brendan’s drives complete, it was for Fred and Ollie to bring it home. The latter battled overall leader, Jules Gounon in the #88 Mercedes for a lap, though let the Frenchman through as he wasn’t battling for position before boxing to hand over to Fred.
Multiple track limit violations saw the Danish driver serve a 35-second time penalty when the #7 McLaren boxed for its final driver change to Ollie who rejoined fourth in Gold.
Although this was an Endurance race, it really did come down to the final 60-minute sprint as Froggatt in the #93 Mercedes (P3 Gold) came in to box with damage and a puncture. Ollie moved ahead out on track but with one more stop still to serve, it was game on!
Fresh tyres and with 1 minute to make up, the Brit was on the hunt for that final podium position. However, as the chequered flag dropped, Ollie crossed the line just 5 seconds shy of the third-place Mercedes.
Inception Racing leave Spa-Francorchamps with a total of 21 points moving down to second in the Gold Cup standings behind Iron Dames.
Bas Leinders, Team Manager
“We came here to the 24 Hours of Spa to win in Gold Cup but unfortunately that didn’t happen. We had a lot of bad luck in the beginning within the first 12 hours of the race, but luckily, we still finished fourth so we can definitely be happy with that.
“We scored some points for the championship so now we need to focus and look ahead to Hockenheim.”
“We finished P4 with only 5 seconds to P3, it was such a tough race. Everyone within the team had done such an amazing job and also all the drivers, it’s just a bit disappointing to finish just outside of the podium with such a small margin.
“For me personally, that was one of my toughest races ever. I’d been quite sick during the night and the morning so luckily I was still able to keep driving. I’m happy for the team that we were able to finish the race!”