KC Motorgroup Ltd. (KCMG) took part in the two-day Official Test ahead of the 2021 TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa last week with its two Porsche 911 GT3 R as the Hong Kong squad began preparations for its third assault on the world’s biggest GT3 race.
Two cars, new drivers
In addition to the #18 car with Alexandre Imperatori, Josh Burdon and Edoardo Liberati who also competed at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, KCMG fields an additional entry with factory support as the line-up is headed by Porsche works driver Laurens Vanthoor.
Also joining the squad is Nick Tandy who, alongside Vanthoor, won the 2020 edition of the classic Belgium enduro. The Briton is no stranger to the team, having been part of KCMG’s 2015 World Endurance Championship line-up. Maxime Martin makes it two Belgians in the #47 machine.
The test offered the drivers a chance to get acquainted with the team, but also for the engineers to receive new feedback from the incredibly experienced trio whose knowledge can be used to help improve the performance of both cars.
Different Balance of Performance
Moving from the ADAC-run Nürburgring 24 Hours to an event operated by the SRO means the Balance of Performance (BoP) will be different, which the team must adjust to. With nine manufacturers set to compete at the blue riband event, BoP is used to make sure each car is capable of achieving the same lap time.
BoP can affect all elements of car performance: handling via adjustments to weight, ride height and downforce, and power with air inlet restrictions as well as turbo boost for non-naturally aspirated cars. The two days of running at Spa-Francorchamps meant the team time could see not only how the performance of the car has changed with the new BoP, but also how to get the most speed out of its new package.
Another key change is the switch in tyre provider from Michelin at the Nordschleife to the standard Pirelli P Zero. Tyres are arguably the most important element of any racing machine, as the only part of the car in contact with the ground and providing the mechanical grip the drivers rely on to churn out their impressive lap times.
It is of particular importance this year, as Pirelli has introduced its latest iteration of the wet weather tyre which the team experienced for the first time during a rain opening day to the test.
Other tyre characteristics, such as warm-up and degradation, will be absolutely pivotal in race strategy. Getting on top of these changes can mean the difference between winning and losing.
KCMG topped the first day of running as Liberati lapped the rain-soaked Spa circuit in 2:22.155, with the #18 car also setting the second fastest time of the test during a dry Wednesday afternoon. Track time for both cars was fully maximised as no reliability concerns arose and no damage was given.
With the base line work done at the circuit, the team will use the five-week break to analyse the data collected before sending the cars back out on track for the first practice session ahead of the 2021 TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa on 29 July – 1 August.
“Our test was very productive. We were able to experiment with a few different elements in various conditions in preparation for the 24 Hours next month and I’m very happy with the work we have done. We now have a month to analyse the data and extract the last bit of performance from our package.”
“We’ve been working really well and the car was competitive throughout the test which is very encouraging. We know this is one of the most competitive races on the motorsport calendar so we cannot rest easy between now and the event.”
“It was a strong couple of days for us at the official Spa test. The car felt good in both the wet and dry conditions and we were competitive throughout both days. We have gathered plenty of information and learnt a lot so now we need to do our homework to improve more as we know the competition for this race will be extremely high. Nevertheless, I’m very happy with the team and the direction we are going in.”
“It was a good test overall and great to get familiar with the KCMG team. The car felt good from the get-go in mixed conditions and later in the dry, so we learnt a lot. Now we have a lot of time to analyse everything and come up with an even better car. Working with Nick and Maxime was great and the team was on point, so things are looking good.”
“It was great to be back with KCMG, we had an awesome two days together. It’s also beneficial to get running in both the wet and dry as the weather at Spa can be very unpredictable. I’ve got strong hopes for a solid run during the race weekend. We know from previous experience that with a solid car and a good, clean run throughout the 24 hours, you have a shot at a great result.”
“I’m very pleased with how the test went, it was a productive two days. This is the only track time we have before the event, you always want more but I think we did a good job with the time we had. The team is well prepared and working with Laurens and Nick is always a pleasure with all of their experience. We have a lot to go over to be prepared for the race but things are looking very positive and I’m looking forward to the big one.”
MATT HOWSON TEAM MANAGER
“The Spa Test Days were our first opportunity as a team to run in the SRO-spec and with Pirelli tyres, so it was important to gather as much information as we could and catch up to the regular runners. We also welcomed our new drivers who were every bit as strong as expected and both cars performed well in all conditions, which is critical at the 24 Hours of Spa. We have a good baseline, but we will continue to work hard ahead of the event to ensure all the details are covered. We’re confident we can be in a strong position with both cars.”
Source. KCMG/Photo. SRO Motorsports Group