The 2021 TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa is officially underway following today's three-hour Bronze Test, which saw Am Cup squad Hägeli by T2 Racing emerge on top with its #166 Porsche.
Back at the event for the first time since 2018, the Swiss outfit made the best possible start to its assault on the 24 Hours thanks to a 2m21.976s lap from Pieder Decurtins.
This denied RAM Racing a fourth successive year at the top of the traditional event opener. The British squad came close to extending its run, with Rob Collard registering the second-fastest lap of the day at the wheel of the #69 Mercedes-AMG, though this fell more than half a second short of Decurtins' benchmark.
The #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin was third with Alex West at the wheel, a further two tenths shy of the #166 Porsche. The British squad had earlier announced that Marvin Kirchhöfer will join its crew this weekend following the withdrawal of Jonny Adam.
The presence of Orange1 FFF Racing (#19 Lamborghini) and Kessel Racing (#11 Ferrari) made it five brands in the top-five positions, though the former did not enjoy a trouble-free afternoon, causing the only red flag of the session when it crashed at T14 during the first hour.
A total of 16 cars took part in the Bronze Test, the full complement of eligible runners from the Pro-Am and Am Cup classes. The full result can be viewed here.
The next track activity will take place on a packed Thursday, which will consist of Practice, Pre-Qualifying, Night Practice and Qualifying. The latter sets grid positions 21 through 58, while Friday evening's Super Pole shootout will establish the first 10 rows and decide this year's pole-sitter.
A host of high-level support series will also take their turn on the 7km circuit, while the new Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series will see real-world drivers tackle a virtual race in the on-site Fanatec Esports Arena.
With the build-up complete, all focus will shift to the biggest race on the calendar: the 73rd TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, which will make the initial plunge into Eau Rouge at 16:30 on Saturday 31 July and conclude at the same time on Sunday 1 August.
The race will once again enjoy extensive live coverage via a host of online options, allowing fans to experience the action via free-to-view, non-geo-blocked streams featuring either French or English commentary. These will be available through the usual variety of platforms, including the event's official website and Facebook page and on the GT World YouTube channels.