Nicky Catsburg shines again with charge to the front in the Total 24 Hours of Spa
Despite his impressive record at the Total 24 Hours of Spa, luck or the lack of it is always a factor in endurance racing and after impressively fighting his way up through the field, a puncture in the closing hour of the Total Spa 24 Hours prevented Nicky Catsburg from leaving Belgium with a plausible top six finish.
Teaming up with Mikkel Jensen and Christian Krognes in the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, qualifying proved a difficult affair despite the undoubted talent behind the wheel. Starting 35th in the 72-car field meant that Nicky and the team had quite a challenge ahead.
After a long week of humid temperatures exceeding 40 degrees, the predicted Spa-Francorchamps rain poured down ahead of the race on Saturday resulting in a safety car start. Nicky took the first stint of the race and once the track was declared green, was quickly making up ground.
Following the safety car brought out by the #109 Bentley at Les Combes, the race began to settle. Nicky made his first stop after 20 laps and started setting purple sector times to become one of the fastest cars on track.
Jensen took over for the second stint, running to the three-hour mark before Krognes had his first run of the race. In varied weather conditions, Nicky was back in and running in 15th position and at the half-way point was soon into the top ten ahead of a long red flag period.
As others took their mandated technical pitstop, the #34 trio moved up to run in second place and this soon became the lead of the race overall. However, with three hours remaining the Walkenhorst crew took their five-minute stop, dropping Nicky back to 14th.
Contact with the #17 Audi in the final hour however saw the car sustain left rear damage and a puncture whilst running in eighth position. After a stop for repairs, he recovered well to take the chequered flag in 11th position.
“I think we did a very good job as a team,” said Nicky. “There were no mistakes from the drivers, but we really just didn’t have any luck on our side this weekend. The long red flag didn’t hep us as we still had to do the technical pitstop and after we took that, we didn’t really have enough time to fight back. In saying that, I think all-in-all we can be quite proud of our race.”