Mercedes-AMG enjoyed a perfect start to its TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa assault by sweeping the top-three positions in today's Bronze Test, which kicked off track action in the Ardennes with a three-hour session.
The German marque was at the top for the majority of proceedings, with the #5 Haupt Racing entry driven by Florian Scholze ultimately posting the best time. The German driver covered the 7km circuit in 2m18.290s, 0.084s faster than fellow countryman Jens Liebhauser in the #57 Winward Racing entry. The #93 Sky Tempesta Racing was third, 0.224s off the pace, with Jonathan Hui at the wheel. All three cars are entered in the new Gold Cup class for this weekend's race.
The best of the non-Mercedes runners – and top of the Pro-Am classification – was the #52 AF Corse Ferrari. Louis Machiels delivered a 2m18.684s to place fourth overall, while class rival Miguel Ramos was sixth overall and second in Pro-Am at the wheel of the #188 Garage 59 McLaren.
A single Silver Cup car ran in the session as Samantha Tan Racing took advantage of the regulation allowing Silver drivers who have not previously competed in the event to enter the Bronze Test. Three of the team's line-up were on-track, with Harry Gottsacker ultimately posting a time good enough for 18th overall.
The Bronze Cup contenders were also involved. The #20 SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes-AMG was the best of them, placing 20th overall, while the #35 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW was 24th. The latter's sister #34 machine was the only car entered in the Bronze Test not to set a time.
The session was interrupted by two red flags, each of which was caused by an Audi finding the gravel. The first came after Karim Ojjeh went off in the #10 Boutsen Racing entry, while Arnold Robin was responsible for the latter at the wheel of the #33 Team WRT machine.
Attention now moves away from the circuit, with Wednesday's activities centred on the parade to Spa town centre. Back on the agenda following a two-year hiatus, the event will feature all 66 cars competing in this year's race and representatives from all support categories.
The next TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa 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 66, 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. There's further GT action from the Lamborghini Super Trofeo and GT4 European Series, while single-seaters are back on the bill thanks to the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine and FFSA Championnat de France F4.
What's more, a special addition for 2022, the SRO 30th GT Anniversary by Peter Auto will bring together a field of significant cars from the past three decades for a pair of races in the build-up to the 24 Hours. Virtual motorsport will also form part of the programme, with the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series staging its third event of 2022 on Friday at 15:05.
With the preparations complete all focus will shift to the biggest GT race in the world, the 74th TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, which will make the initial plunge into Eau Rouge at 16:45 on Saturday 30 July and conclude at the same time on Sunday.
As ever, the race will enjoy extensive live coverage via a host of online options, with commentary available in English, German, French and Italian via the GT World YouTube channel and on the event's official website. English commentary can be found on the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Facebook page, while the French stream will air on the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa account.
TOTALENERGIES 24 HOURS OF SPA TIMETABLE
17:30 - Parade
10:50 - Free Practice
16:15 - Pre-Qualifying LIVE
20:40 - Qualifying LIVE
22:20 - Night Practice
15:05 - Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series LIVE
18:20 - Warm-Up
19:00 - Super Pole LIVE
16:45 - Race LIVE