gt world challenge europe – spa 24hrs – 31 july 2022

Disappointing early end to the 24 hours of spa

Class-leading pace for Sam De Haan and his Barwell Motorsport teammates was cut short at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa over the weekend, bringing a promising opportunity to a disappointing end just before 16 hours were completed. A puncture in the opening hour dropped the Gold class contenders down the order, before a further tyre issue further compounded the delays. A determined drive by the Barwell Motorsport quartet over the following 12 hours recovered the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO as high as P4 before a technical issue forced an early retirement just before hour 16.

The boldly camouflaged #77 Lamborghini arrived at the Spa 24 Hour event among the favourites for a strong result in the Gold class with Sam lining up alongside his ELMS teammate, Ahmad Al Harthy, and Barwell’s GT World Challenge Europe regulars Alex MacDowall and factory driver Sandy Mitchell. Indeed, pace in the early sessions was extremely strong, and the drivers made an early statement as they combined in a closely fought qualifying to take pole position.

The race started in warm and sunny conditions and, despite a mammoth 66 cars on the grid, the opening laps were completed with no incidents throughout the field. Sandy took the start, holding the class lead and moving up the overall order before the first of the bad luck was dealt. A rear puncture at a high-speed point out on the circuit meant the #77 had to carefully recover to the pits, but all early gained ground was immediately lost, dropping to the back of the class field.

A series of punctures in quick succession then followed for competitors across the field during the subsequent laps, throwing the race into temporary chaos as the grid approached the planned first pitstop but, this did enable the Barwell entry to regain some lost ground during several Full Course Yellow periods that followed. With the Huracan GT3 Evo serviced and back on track, the driver line-up continued to recover positions, successfully moving up the field before another puncture temporarily knocked them back once again.

An incident-filled opening half of the race and careful strategy calls enabled the #77 to regain some further lost ground, before a red flag temporarily halted the race during the 10th hour. Restarting the race holding P5, all drivers continued to push throughout the early hours and Sam took over driving responsibilities as the sun started to rise. He showed strong pace during his stint to move up to P4 and closing down the final podium spot before handing over to Ahmad for a routine stop at the 15-hour mark.

A technical issue shortly after returning to the track would prove to be the final straw for the team and, with the car not able to return to the pitlane, they were forced to retire from the race, bringing the weekend to an end just before three-quarters distance.

Sam, disappointed but proud of the team’s efforts, explained:
“The Spa 24h is one of the hardest and most demanding events on the motorsport calendar. It is the challenge that makes it so appealing as a driver, and it really does push everyone and everything to the limit. We were really unlucky to pick up a puncture, but we seemed to be the first domino to fall as several others suffered the same fate within a few laps. To then pick up a second one really knocked us back, after we had managed to recover and were showing good pace, but there was unfortunately nothing we could do about the technical issue at the end. Obviously, disappointed not to get a result, but great to be part of the event and we definitely showed we had the pace to compete at the front of the field.”


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gt world challenge europe – spa 24hr  – 20 june 2022

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