Fontana and Senna with McLaren GT at the Spa 24 Hours


The adrenalin is beginning to flow ahead of the Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours, the most important event in the world for GT cars. On 31 July the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup will see the chequered flag fall on this historic Belgian marathon, but there is more than just a single day to this the longest race of the year. Yesterday, in fact, the teams completed the group test that saw over 60 cars take to the seven switchback kilometres of the Ardennes track. A third car is to be entered for the Spa race by the Garage 59 team that runs the works McLaren 650s's, this one with a particularly interesting crew: Duncan Tappy, Pipo Derani and above all Bruno Senna. The Brazilian, with experience in Formula 1 in the footsteps of his late lamented uncle Ayrton at Lotus, Williams and HRT, has been offered a way into the world of GT racing with McLaren, the team with which Ayrton Senna constructed his legend and won his World Championships. This year, given his Formula E commitments, Bruno has yet to compete in a GT event and the group tests served to introduce the new trio to the existing team, the well-established works cars of the celebrated Woking marque, driven by Bell/Ledogar/Van Gisbergen and Fontana/Moore/Watson, the three youngsters on which McLaren has decided to invest for the future. Alex therefore found himself playing host in the English team’s garage, discussing with Bruno the best strategies to adopt in the race.

Alex Fontana
“The test day was fairly chaotic. 60 cars in action, traffic, a damp track... All a bit of a lottery, but then again these are the conditions we’ll find throughout the week at the end of July. Fitting slick tyres when the track’s still wet, or lapping with grooved covers when instead there’s not enough water to drain. I’d say that it was very positive that we got to grips with this kind of situation so we know what to expect in the race. Tappy, Derani and Bruno Senna joined our Junior crew at Spa. We got a chance to talk and discuss what might be the best compromises for this race. We have the advantage of knowing the car better, while they have great experience in this type of race. I think that McLaren GT has everything in place to do well in a race that can make a season.