Pirelli is once again at Spa in Belgium preparing for the biggest race on its calendar: the 70th 24 Hours of Spa, involving 12,000 tyres and more than 100 people.So big is Pirelli’s commitment to this endurance classic, that the team has been setting up since the start of the week and will continue to prepare right up to the race start on Saturday 28 July at 16:30.With the preceding Spa ‘Speed Week’ and the shipping of tyres for the Suzuka 10 Hours next month, Pirelli is handling around 20,000 GT tyres this week, as well as around 4,500 tyres for Formula 1, Formula 2 and GP3 at the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend and subsequent test. In total, this makes nearly 25,000 competition tyres for both single-seaters and GT.An unprecedently strong field of drivers, teams and manufacturers at Spa will be hoping to put in a good performance in one of the toughest races in the world for all involved: drivers, cars, and Pirelli tyres. Several ex-Formula 1 drivers are taking part, including former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello, making his Spa 24 Hours debut this year in a Strakka Mercedes-AMG GT3. Teams will use the P Zero DHD2 in dry conditions and Cinturato WH in wet conditions. Both tyres have been designed to work with a variety of car set-ups, delivering maximum performance 100% of the time. Even over 24 hours.

Pirelli in numbers:
12,000 tyres taken to Spa
24 trucks at Spa
65 cars from 13 different brands, with 16 different models of car on the grid
111 Pirelli personnel from 15 nationalities
5000 espresso coffees consumed during the week
65,000 spectators

Cracking the strategy code:
Strategy is key to the Spa 24 Hours. The regulations dictate that the stints must be less than 65 minutes in length, so there is no incentive to save fuel to try to reduce the number of pit stops during the race. This means that the race is now run as a rapid 24-hour sprint.There is a minimum time limit of 95 seconds for each pit stop, which allows for a more even playing field by normally enabling teams to carry out tyres, fuel and driver changes with no time losses to their rivals. Teams also have to complete one ‘technical’ pit stop of at least five minutes, which allows more in-depth maintenance to be carried out (such as a brake change) with no disadvantage. However, this year there’s a joker regulation that allows teams to carry out one pit stop every six hours free of a minimum time limit. In the cooler conditions of the night, the teams have a chance to be more flexible on strategies.

How Spa punishes tyres:
Spa is known for its fast and flowing characteristics, but each lap begins with the tightest and slowest corner: the La Source hairpin. The tight nature of this corner is such that the 24-hour race is actually started after it, on the run to Eau Rouge. Together, Eau Rouge and Raidillon form the most famous part of the track, with its left-right-left sequence heading steeply uphill. Here, the forces on the tyres are both lateral and vertical, such is the massive compression and elevation change.A good exit here is crucial to reaching top speeds on the long Kemmel Straight, which leads to the heavy braking zone at Les Combes. After a right-left-right sequence at the top of the hill, the track begins to descend again through Bruxelles and on towards Pouhon: a long, fast, double-apex left-hander where the tyres are subject to sustained lateral forces.Several medium-speed corners follow before the flat-out run to Blanchimont, an extremely quick left-hander where the lateral forces on the tyres are greatest. There is little time to rest before the hardest braking point on the track at the Bus Stop chicane, which leads on to the pit straight. Repeat for around 550 laps, and you have the Spa 24 Hours…

Matteo Braga, circuit technical manager:
“The 70th running of the Spa 24 Hours looks set to be a record-breaking edition, with more manufacturers represented than ever. With more and more new GT3 cars pioneering new developments as well, the speeds continue to get greater. Each year we push the boundaries even further, with tyres that are still well-suited to a wide variety of different vehicle types and drivers, throughout the enormous range of weather conditions that are typical of Spa. This is exactly the same approach that we take to our P Zero road car tyres as well, which are chosen by the majority of the world’s supercar manufacturers as original equipment – many of which are represented on the grid at Spa.”

Rubens Barrichello, Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver:
“I’m very much looking forward to racing at Spa once again, this was where I got my first pole position in Formula 1, so it brings back great memories. I am still very active with my racing in Brazil and I want to thank Strakka Racing for the opportunity. All being well, we should prove a competitive line up.”


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