The Final Word: The CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa

The Final Word: The CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa

The centenary CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa is now a part of the race’s rich history. At 16:30 on Sunday 30 June the chequered flag fell on a once-in-a-lifetime edition of the Belgian endurance classic, which marked the 100th anniversary of its inaugural running in suitably spectacular style.

The centenary reminded us just how much this event has changed since 1924: the cars have developed almost beyond recognition; the circuit has been significantly altered; and the world in which the race exists is fundamentally different.

Yet something has remained unchanged. The jubilation of the victorious Aston Martin squad and the heartbreak felt by the defeated Ferrari crew would have been the same 100 years ago as they were on Sunday. The emotional response that people have to the race – whether they are a fan or a competitor – was the same in 1924 as it is in 2024.

As an event, the centenary was everything it promised and more. From Wednesday’s parade through to the final chequered flag, it was characterised by the incredible number of people who had come to see the cars, to experience the atmosphere, and to celebrate as a community. Their presence, as much as what happened on the track, was the big story of the weekend.

This is Final Word on the centenary CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa.

The Final Word: The CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa

The centenary CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa is now a part of the race’s rich history. At 16:30 on Sunday 30 June the chequered flag fell on a once-in-a-lifetime edition of the Belgian endurance classic, which marked the 100th anniversary of its inaugural running in suitably spectacular style.

The centenary reminded us just how much this event has changed since 1924: the cars have developed almost beyond recognition; the circuit has been significantly altered; and the world in which the race exists is fundamentally different.

Yet something has remained unchanged. The jubilation of the victorious Aston Martin squad and the heartbreak felt by the defeated Ferrari crew would have been the same 100 years ago as they were on Sunday. The emotional response that people have to the race – whether they are a fan or a competitor – was the same in 1924 as it is in 2024.

As an event, the centenary was everything it promised and more. From Wednesday’s parade through to the final chequered flag, it was characterised by the incredible number of people who had come to see the cars, to experience the atmosphere, and to celebrate as a community. Their presence, as much as what happened on the track, was the big story of the weekend.

This is Final Word on the centenary CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa.

• Aston Martin scored its first win since the 1948 edition, which was staged on the old 14-kilometre circuit and marked the race’s return following the Second Word War. It became the first British brand to win since 1984, when a TWR-run Jaguar XJS clinched overall victory.

• This was Aston Martin’s first Fanatec GT Europe Endurance Cup win since Silverstone in 2018; Nicki Thiim was also among the drivers on that occasion. It marked a maiden victory for Comtoyou Racing, which has become the 30th different team to win since the series began in 2011.

• Founded in 2017 and based in Waterloo, Comtoyou Racing is in the first season of a multi-year partnership with Aston Martin. Already well known in TCR competition, its name is now firmly established at the top of international GT racing.

• All three drivers became first-time CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa winners, though each had previously finished on the overall podium. Nicki Thiim had done so three times – in 2015, 2021 and 2023 – and was a Pro-Am winner with Aston Martin in 2019. Marco Sørensen shared the rostrum with his fellow Dane in 2021, while Mattia Drudi finished second with Audi in 2020.

• The Aston Martin drivers were quick to mention the #51 AF Corse – Francorchamps Motors Ferrari crew, who lost the lead just 50 minutes from home due to a broken-down car blocking the pit entrance. The Ferrari boys also spoke eloquently about their disappointment, and the pride they took in their team’s performance at the centenary.

• Team WRT drivers Dries Vanthoor, Charles Weerts and Sheldon van der Linde all secured their second CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa podium finishes on Sunday. Vanthoor and Weerts finished as runners-up in 2021, while Van der Linde was third in 2018. Coincidentally, both of those results also involved Sheldon’s elder brother Kelvin.

• Lamborghini can look back on this event as a success. Franck Perera set a new GT qualifying record in Superpole, while the #163 Grasser Racing entry he shared with Jordan Pepper and Marco Mapelli finished fifth, the brand’s best result at the race. This was made even more impressive by the fact that the car suffered early refuelling issues, even falling a lap down at one stage. During its recovery, Mapelli earned the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap with a 2m16.105s.

• ROWE Racing narrowly missed out on a podium with its #998 BMW. The car suffered a puncture with a little more than an hour to go, requiring an early pit stop and placing it just over the maximum stint time. As such, it was forced to pass through the pit lane at the very end, dropping from third to sixth in the process. Nevertheless, this was the sixth time in seven years that a ROWE car has finished on the lead lap.

• The sister #98 BMW was a surprise early retirement. The defending winner was taken into the garage during the third hour and forced to call time on its race soon after due to a loss of pressure in the cooling circuit. Philipp Eng, Marco Wittmann and Nick Yelloly had hoped to become the first back-to-back winners since Jean-Michel and Philippe Martin in 1979/80.

• Eight cars finished on the lead lap this year, the same number as in 2020, 2022 and 2023. There were seven brands among the top 10, while all nine participating manufacturers finished with a car in the top 20. With heavy overnight rain requiring significant Safety Car running, this year’s lap total was 478, a fall of 59 compared with last year.

• AlManar Racing by GetSpeed won the Gold Cup class with its quartet of Al Faisal Al Zubair, Mikaël Grenier, Dominik Baumann and Philip Ellis. The #777 Mercedes-AMG was in control from Sunday morning, ultimately finishing two laps clear of its nearest rival. It came home seventh overall, three places better than last year’s Gold Cup winner, and was the best Mercedes-AMG entrant at this year’s race.

• The AlManar machine was not the only Gold Cup runner to impress. Saintéloc Racing was consistently at the front with its #25 Audi, ultimately finishing second in class and maintaining its Endurance Cup points lead. The #88 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi was also extremely quick, qualifying fourth overall and running among the leaders until being tipped into the gravel and falling out of contention after five hours.

• GetSpeed also won the Silver Cup with its #3 Mercedes-AMG. Shared by Yannick Mettler, James Kell, Anthony Bartone and Aaron Walker, this was the only car to lead its class at six, 12 and 24 hours.

• But the Silver Cup result could have changed in the latter stages, with Aurélien Panis (#10 Boutsen VDS Mercedes-AMG) catching the GetSpeed machine at a rapid rate. Indeed, Panis was within a second of James Kell when his car came to a halt on the endurance pit straight due to a drivetrain issue.

• Tresor Attempto Racing won the Bronze Cup with one the most impressive performances of the weekend. Shared by Andrey Mukovoz, Dylan Pereira, Max Hofer and Aleksey Nesov, the #66 Audi was among the overall front-runners on Sunday morning and managed to remain there until the chequered flag, ultimately finishing 10th. This result was a testament to an intelligent strategy and excellent race management by the German squad.

• The biggest points scorer in the Bronze Cup was the #52 AF Corse Ferrari of Louis Machiels, Andrea Bertolini, Jef Machiels and Tommaso Mosca. Despite the car not firing up at the start and dropping to the rear of the field, the Italian squad fought back to run second at six hours, first at 12 hours and P2 at the finish. Brought in as fourth driver for the centenary, Mosca was especially impressive during the race.

• CrowdStrike by Riley prevailed in the Pro-Am battle with its #4 Mercedes-AMG. This marked a second class win for George Kurtz following his Bronze Cup triumph in 2022. Spa specialist Nicky Catsburg bagged a third victory: he won overall in 2015 and in Pro-Am last year. Ian James and Colin Braun were both first-time winners at the event.

• Pro-Am runner-up Uno Racing by Landgraf also deserves praise. After leading the class early on, the #16 Mercedes-AMG was caught up in a multi-car accident during the fourth hour and lost some 15 laps while repairs were carried out. Thereafter the crew of David Pun, Rio, Kevin Tse and Indy Dontje ran a perfect race, picking up places when others hit trouble. It was a demonstration of the never-say-die spirit that is so vital in endurance racing.

• This year’s Superpole session was momentous as Franck Perera (#163 Grasser Racing Lamborghini) broke the 16-year-old qualifying lap record with a 2m13.718s. The significance of this should not be understated: a GT3 car can now lap Spa-Francorchamps faster than the GT1 beasts of the past.

• Perera was not the only star of Superpole. Still a few weeks shy of his 19th birthday, Lorenzo Patrese put in a stellar performance to qualify fourth overall in the #88 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi. This was made all the more impressive by the fact that Patrese ran second in the 20-car session.

• The Trophée Paul Frere was awarded to Dries Vanthoor as the highest-ranked Belgian driver in the overall classification. Named in honour of the journalist-driver who was essential to the rebirth of the event in 1964, it was presented to Vanthoor by Paul Frere’s sister.

• The centenary race attracted a record audience on the GT World YouTube channel. Broadcast in seven different languages, the event registered some 3.8 million views, an increase of more than 50 percent compared with last year. The watch-time was also up, rising by 40 percent to almost 1.6 million hours.

• More than 99,500 spectators attended the centenary CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. Adding in the parade and Spa Speedweek, the total climbs to 110,000 people. These numbers will not surprise anyone who was present: every aspect of the event felt busier than ever, with more to see and do around the venue.

• The dates for next year’s event are already set. The 77th edition of the Belgian endurance classic will take place on 26–29 June, marking the start of a new century for the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa.