A thriller of this intensity, from the start to the final stages, is a rare event at the famous 24 hours of Spa-Franchorchamps. Mercedes AMG driver Renger van der Zande and team mates Tristan Vautier and Felix Rosenquist played starring roles. After qualifying for the first row on the grid they were given a five minute penalty just before the race, which meant that they had to start at the back of the field. So to take a podium place in extremely changeable weather during the final stages is sensational. The drivers and the AKKA-ASP Mercedes AMG team delivered an incredible performance throughout the 24 hours.
Stavelot 31 July 2016
Mercedes AMG participated in a big way, with four works supported teams and works drivers. Renger van der Zande was assigned to the strong French AKKA-ASP team. With more than 60 competing teams of the foremost producers of GT3 cars, such as BMW, Aston Martin, Porsche Ferrari, Audi, Lamborghini, Jaguar, McLaren and Mercedes AMG, this 24 hours in the Belgian Ardennes was an impressive race. And how painful was the disqualification of all Mercedes teams just before the start of the race on Saturday. The ignition timing did not correspond with the homologation values that had been submitted. For Renger van der Zande’s team it meant that he was moved to the back of the grid and had to endure a five minute Stop & Go at the start.
Nevertheless, the team furiously began eating away at the two lap lead under all kinds of weather conditions. In the last hour of the race on Sunday they finally managed to clinch a spectacular second place in the same lap as race winners Maxime Martin, Alexander Sims and Philipp Eng in the ROWE BMW F13 M6 GT3, and were chased home by the trio of Laurens Vanthoor, René Rast and Nico Muller in the Audi R8 LMS. This second place was close to a victory in sporting terms. And the race was driven as a 24 hour sprint with margins of just fractions of a second.
Renger: “I had a lot of fun with my team mates Felix and Tristan. Team boss Jerome Policand, also a former Le Mans participant on many occasions, kept a cool head and took us to the finish line with 27 razor-sharp pit stops. The AMG GT 3 is a delicious car, the circuit is fantastic, the field was extremely competitive, the weather was challenging and the team was great. The elements of an unforgettable race. I want more like this….”