Canadian Bruno Spengler held high hopes for the Spa 24 Hours, fourth round of the Blancpain Endurance Series.  Bruno had spent months preparing for this iconic event, his second 24 Hours enduro.  Spengler was partnered by BMW MTEK fellow DTM driver Timo Glock and former CART champion and paralympic gold medallist Alex Zanardi at the wheel of the ROAL Motorsport engineered BMW Z4 GT3 sporting a one off splendid Michel Vaillant comic inspired livery.

This was the first time a disabled driver had been allowed to compete in a 24 hour race.  Alex Zanardi had both legs amputated at the knee after his 2001 crash at the Lausitzring.  This situation meant the team had to do the fuel stops in a slightly different way, indeed Zanardi had a specially adapted steering wheel allowing him to control the clutch and the throttle, whilst Spengler and Glock used conventional control systems.  Even if each driver change effectively meant a steering wheel change, this did not affect the time spent by the Nr 9 car in the pits.

After topping the times in the Saturday morning warm up with a 2:39.192, the first time he had driven a GT3 in the wet, Bruno took the start of the race from 15th on the grid in torrential rain.  Two incidents happened at Les Combes, leading to safety car interventions which spelled trouble for Spengler.

The dual safety car system in place meant the Nr 9 BMW had to be picked up by the second car, losing them half a lap.  Spengler then made his first stop and was about to rejoin the track when the car ahead of him stalled at the exit of the pits, losing them more time.

In spite of these incidents the Nr 9 BMW performed well and the drivers produced times comparable to the front runners and were consistently in the top 10, climbing to 5th at one point.  Unfortunately, with one hour left in the race, the car suffered a mechanical failure and was retired trackside, too far away from the pits to be looked at.  They were classified 25th at the end of the race.  This was a big disappointment for the drivers, and also for the team that had worked very hard to try to give them a reliable car.

“I was very disappointed not to see the checkered flag as this was a very special project which meant a lot to me.  Nevertheless I have learned a lot from my collaboration with Alex Zanardi.”

 Spengler will not have time to rest as he is racing in the DTM this weekend (August 1 & 2) at the Spielberg Red Bull Ring in Austria.Canadian Bruno Spengler held high hopes for the Spa 24 Hours, fourth round of the Blancpain Endurance Series.  Bruno had spent months preparing for this iconic event, his second 24 Hours enduro.  Spengler was partnered by BMW MTEK fellow DTM driver Timo Glock and former CART champion and paralympic gold medallist Alex Zanardi at the wheel of the ROAL Motorsport engineered BMW Z4 GT3 sporting a one off splendid Michel Vaillant comic inspired livery.

This was the first time a disabled driver had been allowed to compete in a 24 hour race.  Alex Zanardi had both legs amputated at the knee after his 2001 crash at the Lausitzring.  This situation meant the team had to do the fuel stops in a slightly different way, indeed Zanardi had a specially adapted steering wheel allowing him to control the clutch and the throttle, whilst Spengler and Glock used conventional control systems.  Even if each driver change effectively meant a steering wheel change, this did not affect the time spent by the Nr 9 car in the pits.

After topping the times in the Saturday morning warm up with a 2:39.192, the first time he had driven a GT3 in the wet, Bruno took the start of the race from 15th on the grid in torrential rain.  Two incidents happened at Les Combes, leading to safety car interventions which spelled trouble for Spengler.

The dual safety car system in place meant the Nr 9 BMW had to be picked up by the second car, losing them half a lap.  Spengler then made his first stop and was about to rejoin the track when the car ahead of him stalled at the exit of the pits, losing them more time.

In spite of these incidents the Nr 9 BMW performed well and the drivers produced times comparable to the front runners and were consistently in the top 10, climbing to 5th at one point.  Unfortunately, with one hour left in the race, the car suffered a mechanical failure and was retired trackside, too far away from the pits to be looked at.  They were classified 25th at the end of the race.  This was a big disappointment for the drivers, and also for the team that had worked very hard to try to give them a reliable car.

“I was very disappointed not to see the checkered flag as this was a very special project which meant a lot to me.  Nevertheless I have learned a lot from my collaboration with Alex Zanardi.”

 Spengler will not have time to rest as he is racing in the DTM this weekend (August 1 & 2) at the Spielberg Red Bull Ring in Austria.

Bruno Spengler fondait de gros espoirs pour les 24 Heures de Spa, la quatrième épreuve des Blancpain Endurance Series. Pour l’occasion il retrouvait son coéquipier au sein du BMW MTEK en DTM, l’Allemand Timo Glock, ainsi que l’Italien Alessandro Zanardi au sein de la ROAL Motorsport pour piloter la BMW Z4 GT3 n°9 aux couleurs de Michel Vaillant.

Pour la première fois dans une épreuve de 24 heures deux pilotes valides faisaient équipe avec un pilote invalide, puisque l’Italien a été amputé des deux jambes à la hauteur du genou à la suite d’un accident survenu en 2001 sur le Lausitzring, une situation qui nécessitait quelques ajustements lors des arrêts ravitaillements. En effet, Alessandro Zanardi utilisait un volant spécial afin de gérer l’accélérateur, mais malgré ce changement de volant lorsque l’Italien entrait et sortait de la voiture, l’équipage n°9 ne perdait pas de temps lors des arrêts aux stands.

Alors que la course a débuté sous la pluie, les voitures de sécurité qui sont au nombre de deux sur le tracé belge, ont fait plusieurs apparitions en début de course mettant à mal la remontée de Bruno Spengler qui a pris le départ au volant de la n°9.

En effet, lors du premier arrêt, la BMW n°9 a dû attendre le passage de l’une des voitures de sécurité, perdant ainsi un demi tour, puis lors de l’arrêt suivant Bruno Spingler a de nouveau joué de malchance, se retrouvant à la sortie des stands derrière un concurrent qui a calé au moment de reprendre la piste, résultat un autre demi-tour de perdu.

Malgré ces quelques incidents dans la voie des stands, la performance de la BMW n°9 n’a pas été altérée et les trois pilotes alignaient des temps semblables à leurs adversaires présents dans le top-5.

La fiabilité a malheureusement coûté un top-10 à Bruno Spengler et son équipage qui se classe finalement vingt-cinquième position à trente-six tours des vainqueurs, une déception tant pour les pilotes que l’écurie qui a énormément travaillé tout au long de cette épreuve pour fournir la voiture la plus performante et la plus fiable possible à Bruno Spengler, Timo Glock et Alessandro Zanardi.

« C’est une déception de ne pas voir l’arrivée » avoue un Bruno Spengler très déçu à l’issue du double tour d’horloge. « C’était un projet très spécial qui me tenait beaucoup à cœur. J’ai beaucoup appris en travaillant avec Alessandro Zanardi tout au long de cette épreuve. »

Bruno Spengler va désormais retrouver le championnat DTM avec le meeting du Red Bull Ring à Spielberg, Autriche, les 1er et 2 août prochains pour ce qui sera le cinquième des neuf rendez-vous du championnat de voitures de tourisme allemand.