24 tough hours for Rinaldi Racing in Spa
Twice around the clock on the Ardennes roller coaster: Rinaldi Racing secured a 24th overall position in the 67th “Total 24 Hours of Spa”. In the world’s biggest GT3 race, the driver foursome Marco Seefried, Norbert Siedler, Rinat Salikhov and Stef Vancampenhoudt rose to the immense challenge of the Belgian 7.004 kilometre, tradition-steeped track in Spa-Francorchamps. Michele Rinaldi’s team experienced highs and lows at the weekend and despite extreme conditions, it finally came in 24th in a field of 60 cars.
Rotten weather didn’t stop the endurance classic starting punctually on Saturday at 16:30. As several laps by other drivers had been deleted, Marco Seefried started from grid position 39 and drove a perfect lap. After just one round, he fought his way six positions forwards. In spite of subsiding rainfall and the track drying off, numerous accidents and breakdowns caused a lot of safety-car phases in the first half of the race and continually interrupted the race flow.
Norbert Siedler took the wheel of the Ferrari 458 Italia in the early evening hours. Shortly after his stint began, he was hit during overtaking by another contestant, slipped off the track and was only able to free himself out of the gravel after two laps had passed. Technical problems continued to make life difficult for the experienced foursome. “First we had a light failure”, said Siedler. “And after that the tire rod needed changing.”
From the word go, things didn’t run perfectly for the team from Mendig. Coordination problems during training and qualifying sessions ultimately meant a grid position at the rear of the field. “Of course, it wasn’t the grid position we had hoped for”, explained Marco Seefried. “We found the problem and went into the race feeling confident.”
However, several setbacks during the race gave the German racing team a tough time. “It was clear right from the start, the race wouldn’t be a piece of cake, but from the beginning of the weekend onwards, it just didn’t go well”, stated team boss Michele Rinaldi. “After the poor qualification, we worked flat out to reduce the gap. Unfortunately, with no turn for the better. For example, we lost a lot of time when, during the night, a fellow competitor hit Steff Vancampenhoudt’s wheel and the wheel carrier and tie rod then had to be changed in the box. In the early morning hours, the crew changed the splitter and bumper after a collision. But all four drivers weren’t put out by this and continued fighting. Rinat and Stef have done a great job. And of course, so have Marco, Norbert and the entire team. It was a fantastic experience for us all.”
Rinaldi Racing is now looking forward to a change of scenery. Next Saturday (1st August), Marco Seefried and Norbert Siedler will be starting at the Nürburgring. The two pros will be taking part in the fifth round of the VLN endurance championship in an iTracker Porsche 911 GT3 R. “After the Spa disappointment, we aim to go for it on the Nürburgring and come up with a top result”, says a confident Michele Rinaldi, ready for the fight.