The legendary Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps was the scene of the third round of the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup – the 24 Hours of Spa. Reema Juffali, Yannick Mettler, Ralf Aron and Alain Valente drove the #81 Theeba Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3, but were ultimately denied the chance to see the chequered flag after a race-ending incident in the ninth hour.
Yannick took the race start for the team and, after a prolonged 20-minute Safety Car period, drove well to maintain P16 in class in the opening laps. By the end of his first stint, he’d dropped a solitary position to P17, but re-joined after his initial stop in P16 once more.
During Yannick’s second stint, he began moving forward through the field and was up to P14 in class whilst battling for the same piece of tarmac with five other Bronze class cars. At the end of the second hour, another Safety Car period – which perfectly suited the team’s strategy – meant that Ralf could get behind the wheel and join the pack in P12.
Following a successful double-stint for Ralf – and a close battle with the #79 Mercedes car – he handed the car over to Reema at the four-hour mark in P12. During her stint, the #83 Iron Dames Lamborghini closed to within a second of the Theeba Motorsport car, but Reema held her nerve, astutely defending to maintain position.
The third round of stops would see the #83 car leapfrog Reema in the pits owing to the extra time required for a driver swap. All was not lost though, as Alain then exited the pit lane in P11, still having gained a position.
With six hours notched, Alain hit the race’s first major milestone in P14 after a recent pit stop, but was back into the pits shortly thereafter with a suspension issue. By the time the problem had been resolved, Theeba Motorsport had dropped to P18 in class and five laps behind the leading Bronze car.
Having completed eight hours of running, Yannick took the reins from Alain in P17. Just after the nine-hour mark had ticked over, the #70 Lamborghini went wide into the gravel at Malmedy and came to rest on the exit of the corner. Unsighted, Yannick was powerless to avoid the stricken car and impacted the Mercedes’ rear left corner, before careening across the track and into the opposite barrier. Mercifully, Yannick emerged from the wreckage unscathed, but Theeba Motorsport’s race was brought to a sudden and disappointing end.
Reema Juffali, Founder & Driver, Theeba Motorsport
Unfortunately, we got caught in an incident which meant the race was over for us with just a little over half the race left to run. Most important thing, Yannick who was driving at the time is ok. We had hoped to make it to the end of the race, but this is one of the toughest races out there and this time, it caught us out. A big thank you to the team for giving it their all. I’m proud of Theeba Motorsport.