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Special Event Guide: The iRacing Spa 24 Hours

One of the most difficult races on the iRacing Special Event calendar, let’s learn more about the Spa 24 Hours.

Are you a GT driver who has had enough of trying to stay out of the way of thundering prototypes? Well, fear not, as the GT3-only Spa 24 Hours contest might be the special event for you.  

Taking place at one of the greatest and most iconic motorsport arenas in the world, Spa-Francorchamps, this round-the-clock classic will test even the most hardened GT pilots. Its bumper 24-hour length means teams will have to work together to sustain a hot pace while keeping your car clean until the chequered flag. 

Achieving this while pounding around the demanding Belgian circuit is a tough feat, and this guide will give you the best chance of knowing exactly what to expect when taking to the grid. 

When is the Spa 24 Hours held?

The iRacing Spa 24 Hours generally takes place in the latter part of July, a week before the SRO-sanctioned 24 Hours of Spa goes ahead in real life. In 2024, it is scheduled for July 19th – 21st.

The race will be staged across four separate time slots over the weekend, with each being chosen so that sim racers from all over the globe have a chance to compete at a time that suits them. The start times are as follows:

  •  Friday: 10 PM GMT
  • Saturday/Sunday: 8 AM GMT, 12 PM GMT, 4 PM GMT

How is the Spa 24 Hours structured?

The four separate starting slots are scheduled to fit in with different time zones across the world that racers could be bound by.  

  • The late Friday GMT fixture is ideal for drivers from North and South America as it will take place during the day
  • The early morning GMT splits are perfect for drivers in the Asian/Australasian regions
  • The 12 PM slot will be when the pro spilt race will take place, so if you are not participating and wish to spectate, this is the one to pay attention to.
    Less experienced drivers may want to try one of the other fixtures due to this being the busiest available.
  • The later splits are also handy if you suffer a technical problem or crash out from an earlier race, giving you another opportunity to achieve glory!  

The Spa 24 Hours is set up as a team event with a minimum driver number of two per squad, and a maximum of 16 runners per outfit.

  • Make sure to download the free Coach Dave Delta app today to access the full range of setups to fight for supremacy whenever you hit the track!

What License Is Needed To Race?

To take part in the iRacing Spa 24 Hours, you only need to reach a D-level road racing license. Bear in mind though that you need a safety rating level of at least 4.0 if at D level, while the SR level of those ranked C or above is irrelevant. 

  • The license you have doesn’t determine which split you are placed in, this will instead be sorted out by your total road racing iRating.
  • This could mean that if three high-rated A-class racers team up with a lower-rated D-class pilot, the lower-rated pilot will likely have to take on the very best in the top split
  • Speed has no bearing on how clean a driver races, so just because they possess a strong iRating, don’t assume they have a high level of racecraft  

The D-level license needed for this race is straightforward to reach, as you simply need to progress out of the beginner rookie license. 

  • Achieving clean races in rookie road series such as Formula Ford 1600, Mazda MX-5 Cup, and Formula Vee should grant you a D-level ranking in no time.   

If you’re unsure about how to go about progressing to the correct license level, refer to Coach Dave Academy’s license guide so that you can achieve the required ranking and join the grid in your choice of GT3 weapon. 

Due to the Spa 24 Hours being massively longer than the usual daily events, it provides an excellent chance for you to make massive iRating and safety rating gains. Keeping things clean when out on track is crucial to banking these gains, but they can be transformational to your ranking should you achieve this. 

What is Spa-Francorchamps?

The Spa-Francorchamps venue is one of the most recognizable racing tracks on planet Earth, mainly due to its status as one of the longest-running circuits featuring on the Formula 1 calendar. Hosting its first grand prix in 1925, the facility has been a regular fixture in F1 ever since. It has only failed to feature on the schedule on two occasions since 1985, though F1 is far from the only series the track has hosted. 

It’s difficult to find a championship that hasn’t visited Spa at some point. The World Endurance Championship, GT Challenge Europe, World Touring Car Championship, and even the World Rallycross Championship have featured rounds there in the past.

Spa is revered by drivers, teams, and fans alike due to its ultra-fast and flowing layout. The legendary Eau Rouge-Raidilion section is what most think of when Spa’s name is uttered though. 

The uphill right-left complex has been witness to many breathtaking moments over the decades, the section providing the set-up to the one-kilometre Kemmel straight – which provides the ideal slipstream zone to make a move into the slow Les Combes chicane.

It’s tough to make an overtaking move through the middle sector of the circuit due to the many high-speed turns, including the fearsome Pouhon downhill double right-hander. The next hotspot is the slowest part of the lap, the Bus Stop chicane. Getting a good run through the rapid left-hander of Blanchimont is critical to set up for a dive into the chicane, which acts as the cherry on top of a thrilling lap of a stunning racing circuit. 


Struggling for pace at Spa?

If you need some help finding the perfect racing lines over a lap at Spa-Francorchamps before the big event, why not take a ride along with one of Coach Dave Academy’s professional drivers?


The Cars

The Spa 24 Hours, unlike most other iRacing special events, is structured as a single-class event that makes use of the GT3 class.

What is the GT3 class?

GT3 is the premier category of GT racing vehicles worldwide, with a total of eight machines ready to be called up for battle. 

The eight combatants are all built by different manufacturers and, unlike other iRacing special multi-class events, all current active GT3 vehicles are eligible for the Spa outing. This means the venerable McLaren MP4-12C and Ford GT vehicles can be wheeled out. These older cars are difficult to extract the ultimate pace out of compared to their more modern counterparts though, so be warned, but they all use iRacing’s extensive Balance of Performance measures to ensure each has an equal chance of running up front.

They also all have unique engine layout/placement combinations, so these attributes add up to each needing varying driving styles to get the best from them. 

Audi R8 LMS Evo II GT3Naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10 
BMW M4 GT3Twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six
Ferrari 296 GT3Twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6  
Ford GT GT3Supercharged 5.0-litre V8
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EvoNaturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10
McLaren MP4-12C GT3Twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8
Mercedes-AMG GT3 2020Naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8 
Porsche 911 GT3 R 992Naturally-aspirated 4.2-litre flat-six

Need some setups?

Our iRacing Setup Subscription allows you to focus purely on your on-track performance at the Spa 24 Hours as we’ll provide you with a comprehensive setup offering before the event. And, with access to our free Coach Dave Delta app, installing them couldn’t be any easier.

  • Race setups
  • Qualifying setups
  • Onboard laps
  • Data packs
  • All are crafted by professionals

Race format and strategy

The grid for the Spa 24 Hours will be decided by an eight-minute qualifying test, in which one of each team’s designated drivers will have two laps to post the best time possible. A three-minute practice session will precede the quali session to allow drivers to join the server and equip their setups. The race will then get underway with a rolling start procedure.

  • If you need to brush up on your driving technique before taking on the demanding Spa 24 Hours, take a look at Coach Dave Academy’s Never Lift guide, which features all the advanced driving tips you need to maximize your potential on the track. 

Track Conditions

The Spa 24 Hours contest features dynamic weather, so depending on the climactic conditions and cloud cover, the grip available can change at a moment’s notice. The circuit will also get grippier due to extra rubber being laid down on the racing line as the race progresses. 

However, be prepared for your strategies to be discarded at a moment’s notice with the possibility of rain now to be considered.

Due to being a 24-hour race, much of the Spa 24 Hours will be contested under darkness. The cooler conditions this brings can change the balance of the car severely. 

  • Each member of the team should be comfortable with the car day or night to ensure the pace is kept consistent at all times
  • Track development is important to keep on top of as car balance can shift significantly, which can harm driver confidence
  • Temperature differences can greatly affect tire wear, so keep an eye on this value throughout the race to make sure you aren’t pushing your rubber too hard if the track is hotter  

Consistency

Good consistency is a key element of doing well in endurance races. Without it, those crucial seconds lost over several poor laps could easily prove to be the difference between winning and losing over 24 hours. 

  • Having a good race rhythm will help to prevent mistakes as the car will always be within its limits, as is the driver 
  • This will also ensure the car is looked after, as when pushing hard it is easy to overstress the tyres
  • This will cause them to deteriorate toward the end of the stint, leaving you vulnerable to those behind

Variables

While the Spa 24 Hours is a single-class event, traffic will doubtless become an issue sooner or later. Some teams will get involved in crashes, meaning they’ll need to complete the rest of the race with a damaged, and therefore slower, machine.  

  • Try to leave as many moves as possible until the straights, which mitigates risk. Riskier moves will need to be taken at times due to how much time can be lost being held up in fast corners, but these should only be made if absolutely necessary
  • Make sure you’re well aware of which parts of the track your car has an advantage over others, and vice versa, to work out the best place to attack or put the pressure on others 
  • Remaining calm and decisive when battling and lapping other vehicles is important if you’re team is to survive the gruelling 24-hour encounter

The chance of a good result is high if these tips are kept in mind, though ultimately simply surviving should open up the opportunity for a great finish in an event that runs over 24 hours.  

Many will fall victim to the formidable Spa curves, but with the right approach, you can instead make the Belgian circuit fall victim to you.

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