Everything you need to know about the 2023 CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa: FORMAT

Everything you need to know about the 2023 CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa: FORMAT

Though this year's event takes place one month earlier than usual, the format of race week remains very familiar. Track activity begins at 14:55 on Tuesday 27 June with the Bronze Test, which runs for three hours and is open to all Bronze-graded competitors, as well as any Silver drivers competing outside the Pro category who have never previously raced at Spa.

As usual, the main focus of Wednesday is the parade from the track to Spa city centre, which sets off at 18:00 and is followed at 18:30 by an autograph session. The action really steps up a gear on Thursday, beginning with a 90-minute Free Practice at 11:20 and followed by a one-hour Pre-Qualifying at 18:10. Both are primarily about preparation, while Pre-Qualifying can also be used to set the grid if Quali can’t take place. 

All being well, we move on to Qualifying. With a scheduled start time of 21:20, the session will begin 30 minutes before sunset. It follows the well-established Fanatec GT Europe Endurance Cup format, though there are four 15-minute sessions instead of three. One driver from each car contests a session, with three-driver crews skipping Q1 and the average time establishing the order. Expect the final runs to be completed in darkness. 

The fastest 20 book a place in Friday's Super Pole shootout, while positions 21 through 71 are locked in barring any penalties. At this point we are likely to know who is on pole in the Pro-Am and Bronze Cup classes; we might also have our Gold Cup and Silver Cup pole-sitters, though it is quite possible that at least one of these will be decided during Super Pole.

Meanwhile, attention begins to shift to the race with a 90-minute Night Practice that runs from 23:00 until 00:30. During this session, all drivers must complete at least two flying laps (from timing line to timing line) to meet their night-driving criteria.

Friday is all about Super Pole, which this year begins at the earlier time of 15:35. Each crew nominates one driver, who has two flying laps to set their best time. They run in reverse order and at one-minute intervals, meaning the excitement builds throughout the session. The chief question is whether anyone can break the Mercedes-AMG stranglehold: the Affalterbach marque has clinched the past four pole positions in a row, a run that began in 2019.

There is still time for a final run before the race, with a 20-minute Warm-Up scheduled for 19:55 on Friday evening. After this, all that remains is the big event. The action begins at 16:30 on Saturday afternoon when the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa sets off on its 75th edition. After a full day and night of racing, this year’s winners will be crowned on Sunday afternoon.