Heartbreak for flying #90 at Spa-Francorchamps

Jack Manchester and teammates Nico Bastian, Jules Szymkowiak and Fabian Schiller had a resurgent drive through the field cut frustratingly short in the 70th running of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, as car #90 was taken out of the race on its 261st lap following a collision with another competitor.

The AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 showed class-leading pace throughout the scorching week at Spa- Francorchamps, no better demonstrated than a Pre-Qualifying result of P3, just 0.095s down on P1. In Friday’s combined Qualifying the team lined up P3 in class (32nd overall) for the 24-hour race itself with a time of 2:20.118.

As the green flag fell at 16:30 CET, Nico Bastian led the way with a clean double-stint, eventually pitting from the class lead and an impressive P15 as Jack took over for his first hour of driving. Unfortunately, this changeover would give rise to the first of the teams’ challenges, as a faulty gearbox sensor meant Jack was held in the garage for 12 minutes before resuming the race – now 55th overall, 5 laps down and last in class.

In the face of technical hiccups and facing his 24-hour race debut, Jack’s consistency and determination over his stint set the tone for the following 10 hours as car #90 rose through the ranks to within a lap of the class leaders. Jules Szymkowiak now at the wheel at the 13th hour of the race, the teams’ likely return to the class podium was ousted by a competitor’s lapse in judgement.

On Lap 261, a chasing Audi misjudged the gap between it and car #90 ahead braking into the right-left-right complex of Les Combes, colliding hard with the teams’ rear right wheel and sending the Mercedes GT3 careering into the barriers with heavy damage. Unable to retrieve the car for repairs, AKKA ASP Team conceded to retiring from the race at just over an hour before Jack was set to take to the track for his second stint.

Despite the disappointing result, Jack Manchester looks back at an impressive 5 consecutive days of driving with optimism;

Everyone pulled together to get back within one lap of the leaders – the car was flying! We were looking good for a class podium, if not a class win, when a Pro car rear-ended Jules at the end of the Kemmel Straight, sending the car into the barriers hard and out of the race. Luckily Jules was OK and able to walk away unhurt.

"I want to thank my teammates Jules, Nico and Fabian for their support, help and incredible driving, race engineer Fred for a brilliant car, AKKA ASP Team mechanics Kevin and Arnaud for keeping us in the fight, and Mercedes- AMG Customer Racing for their support.

We will come back stronger and better from this – I can’t wait to take part in this special event again.

Jack’s next races in the AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 come in 4 weeks’ time at the Hungaroring, a challenging 4.381km circuit with a combination of high-speed and low-speed sectors, and much like Spa, unpredictable weather. The Sprint format of Round 10 promises 2 races for Jack, who aims to make up for points lost in the unfortunate events of the Total Spa 24 Hours.

Championship Standings
Blancpain GT Series Sprint Silver Cup - 1st (67.5 points)
Blancpain GT Series Overall Silver Cup - 1st (101.5 points)

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