Felix Rosenqvist and his RAM Racing team-mates took the chequered flag in a gruelling jubilee edition of the 24 Hours of Spa, surviving a race of attrition as the Belgian enduro celebrated its 70th running this weekend.
Rosenqvist made his second start in the GT3 endurance classic on the back of a memorable debut in 2016 (when he finished second overall), this time looking for victory in the Pro-Am category where professional racing drivers team up with less experienced amateurs.
The RAM Racing crew – which consisted of Rosenqvist, Euan Hankey (GBR), Darren Burke (GBR) and Salih Yoluç (TUR) – duly enjoyed the strongest possible start to procedures by putting their #49 machine on class pole in qualifying, lining up 25th overall in the 63-car field as the race got underway on Saturday afternoon.
Rosenqvist was tasked with driving duties for the opening two hours of the race, handing the car over to Hankey following a trouble-free double stint.
The #49 crew then took maximum advantage of a Full Course Yellow situation to shoot into fourth place overall – well out of the normal range for a Pro-Am entry – and maintained their stranglehold on the class lead as dusk settled over the Belgian Ardennes.
At roughly the five-hour mark, however, any hopes of a strong result were sadly dashed when Hankey accidentally made contact with a rival Ferrari at the Bus Stop chicane, causing radiator damage to his Mercedes-AMG GT3. Repairs proved lengthy, with the #49 crew losing 20 laps after spending 45 minutes in the pits.
After re-joining and completing the remainder of the race largely without issue, the RAM Racing squad eventually took the chequered flag in 33rd place overall, and in eighth in Pro-Am.
“We came here to fight for Pro-Am victory, but everybody knows this is one of the most gruelling races in the world and this time it simply didn’t work out,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “We had the pace to win it and I think we could have definitely done so with a trouble-free race, but that’s the thing with a 24-hour endurance; you have to keep out of trouble all the way through. We still enjoyed ourselves and it was a great experience.”
Much like in 2016, Rosenqvist again found himself in the driving seat for much of the race, with a commanding triple stint at night arguably his strongest performance of the event.
“I actually found it harder than expected to reacquaint myself with the car, which I haven’t driven for two years,” Rosenqvist explains. “Doing this race was a bit of an eye-opener in that respect, to be honest. It reminded me to take nothing for granted and never to underestimate any challenge at this level. Eventually, I got to grips with it, and I’m particularly happy with my triple stint during the night when we were consistently among the quickest on track.
“I’d like to thank RAM Racing for this opportunity. It’s a crazy race and this experience has definitely made me a better driver.”
RAM Racing completed 489 laps (approx. 3420 km) during the 24 hours, which compares to the 511 racked up by the winning Walkenhorst BMW trio of Tom Blomqvist (GBR), Philipp Eng (AUT) and Christian Krognes (NOR).
Rosenqvist’s imminent Spa return: set for Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup guest start
Felix Rosenqvist will be back at Spa-Francorchamps in just four weeks’ time, making a guest appearance in the Formula 1-supporting Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend on August 24-26.
The Supercup is Porsche’s leading international one-make series, with all drivers competing in bespoke 911 GT3 Cup cars. Rosenqvist has been invited by Porsche Motorsport for a one-off to drive its VIP car, sporting the start number #911.
“I’m looking forward to racing in the Supercup in a few weeks, and I’m sure it will be a serious challenge,” says Rosenqvist. “The top guys there are the fastest in the world in that exact model of car, and many of them have driven it for years, so it should be fun taking them on in their own domain. When Porsche Motorsport asked me if I wanted to do it, I never hesitated; this is exactly the kind of challenge I love!”
Rosenqvist, however, will be back on track sooner than that, heading off to Japan in just a few days to contest the next round of Super GT at Fuji this up-coming weekend (August 4-5).