Thousands of fans lined the roads into Spa town centre today as a phenomenal collection of contemporary GT cars took part in the annual Total 24 Hours of Spa parade.
First staged in 2002, the parade has grown into an immensely popular aspect of the week-long festivities that precede the Belgian endurance classic. Each year has seen the event expand further, both in terms of the participating machinery and the number of fans who take part. That trend continued at the latest edition, with clear skies and sunshine making for perfect conditions in which to soak up the atmosphere.
As ever, all of the cars that will contest the upcoming Total 24 Hours of Spa were part of proceedings. That meant no fewer than 11 different brands were on display, representing a roll call of the world’s premier GT manufacturers. German machinery was well-represented thanks to Audi, BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche, while their Italian rivals Lamborghini and Ferrari also drew considerable fan interest.
2019 will be significant for British marques Aston Martin and Bentley, with the former giving the new Vantage AMR its first Spa outing and the latter celebrating its centenary year. A trio of Japanese manufacturers brought their competitive machinery thanks to Honda, Nissan and Lexus, completing a 72-car field that will establish a new record for the event's GT era.
The parade was not limited to the GT3 equipment that will contest the race. The 24 Hours hopefuls were joined by the new GT2 cars launched by leading brands Porsche and Audi, both of which are set to compete throughout the 2020 season.
The R8 GT2 produced by Audi was among the first cars to pull away from the circuit at 18.00, while Porsche's new 911 GT2 RS Clubsport was present with a fleet of 10 cars. The latter will be on-track at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, contesting a pair of support races ahead of the 24 Hours.
Championnat de France FFSA GT/GT4 France and Lamborghini Super Trofeo will also compete on the support bill and both were out in numbers for the parade, while Formula Renault Eurocup was well represented by a series of Megane RS machines.
Upon arrival in the town centre the cars were parked in front of Spa Casino, giving fans an opportunity to experience them first hand. The stars of this year's Total 24 Hours of Spa then signed autographs for thousands of enthusiastic fans, before heading to the theatre for the drivers’ briefing. Indeed, with 72 cars competing in the race, it would prove to be the biggest in recent memory.
The day concluded with a return journey to the Spa-Francorchamps paddock in preparation for Thursday’s on-track action. Once again, fans were out in force along the roads as the sun began to set over the Ardennes.
Thursday will see focus shift back to activities on the circuit. It promises to be a busy day, with four sessions set to take place over a 12-hour stretch. The action begins at 11.10 with free practice, which will represent the first chance this year for the entire 72-car field to test themselves on the 7km Spa circuit.
Pre-qualifying begins at 16.15 and will last for one hour, before the most important session of the day takes place at 20.00: qualifying for the Total 24 Hours of Spa. This will decide the 20 entrants who progress to Friday’s Super Pole session, as well as the final grid slots for positions 21 and back.
With the parade complete and track action ready to take centre stage, the start of a record-breaking Total 24 Hours of Spa is drawing ever nearer.