Mercedes and Audi will compete in the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps this year with eye-catching paintwork. While Audi relies on designs from different art eras, Mercedes travels to the Ardennes with a retro look. We have the pictures.
The 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps is the world's most important GT3 showdown. It goes without saying that all the major automobile manufacturers are represented here with their customer teams. This year, however, Audi and Mercedes want to stand out in particular from the field of 60 vehicles. That's why some of their racing cars have been given a special paint job.
Mercedes based its design on past successes. Exactly 50 years ago, Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz sensationally raced to second place overall in their Mercedes 300 SEL 6.8 AMG at the Belgian long-distance classic and also secured class victory. The historic event from 1971 established the AMG myth.
To celebrate the anniversary, one of the four Mercedes AMG GT3 from the Pro category will start in the look of its legendary predecessor. At that time, the 300 SEL was painted completely red and earned the nickname "red sow" with its total weight of 1.5 tons, the 6.8-liter V8 engine and the impressive headlights at the front.
The successor in retro design will compete with the HubAuto team with starting number 50 and will be driven by Maximilian Buhk, Maximilian Götz and Yelmer Buurman. The two AMG GT3s of the AKKA ASP team, one of which enjoys extended factory support, also have a chance of the first Mercedes victory at Spa since 2013. In addition, the pink BWT racer from the Haupt Racing Team will also be competing in the Pro class with AMG support.
Audi honors Belgian artists
The competition from Audi has also come up with something very special for the 73rd edition of the Ardennes classic. Here, four customer racing cars have been wrapped in new designs. All have in common that the four rings on the roof are covered by a red banderole with the inscription "100", which refers to the corresponding racing anniversary of the country Belgium.
The rest of the cars are each individually designed. This year, Audi Team Attempto entered the R8 LMS with the number 66 in the national colors of Belgium. Black, yellow and red in a wild graffiti pattern dominate the body of Mattia Drudi, Dennis Marschall and Christopher Mies.
The colorful distribution of colors on the number 25 car from Team Saintéloc, on the other hand, is strictly geometric. The design is intended to evoke the ideas of Belgian artist Victor Servranckx in the first half of the 19th century. Christopher Haase, Patric Niederhauser and Markus Winkelhock take turns at the wheel of the R8 LMS.
R8 LMS in a comic look
The Audi Team WRT is launching two expressive themed vehicles. The GT3 racer by Kelvin van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts represents the "Art Nouveau" era at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The pattern on the number 32 of the R8 LMS takes up design elements of the fashion of the time. It originated in textile centers such as Antwerp in Belgium.
The sister vehicle of Robin Frijns, Dennis Lind and Nico Müller with starting number 37 shows red and yellow patterns that are supposed to reflect the color and drawing style of comics. Big figures like Tintin (known in Germany as "Tim und Struppi"), Gaston or the immortal racing driver Michel Vaillant stand for various comic styles from Belgium that have become famous around the world.
We are already showing you the special designs in the gallery. You can follow the 73rd edition of the 24 Hours of Spa on Saturday, July 31, from 4:30 p.m. on the organiser’s official Livestream .