Podium position for Christodoulou in Spa 12 hours

Posted By Adam Christodoulou / Endurance, News, Race Update / Career, news / No Comments

Adam Christodoulou marked his first competitive outing in the Mercedes-AMG GT4 last weekend with a podium finish, claiming second in class and sixth overall at the 12H Spa-Francorchamps.

Having assisted in the development of the new 4.0 litre V8-powered GT4,
Christodoulou was invited to join up with his regular Team Black Falcon outfit for a guest outing in the 24H Touring Car Endurance Series and was immediately on the pace, leading the 48-car field on three separate occasions before delays with an unscheduled stop costing five laps.

With plenty of running still to be conducted before it goes on sale at the end of the year,Christodoulou was delighted with the pace shown by the Mercedes-AMG GT4 during what was essentially a 12-hour test session under race conditions, and believes the car is well on course to be a success in in the ultra-competitive GT4 landscape.

This weekend was all about putting mileage on the car to make sure we have plenty of data to understand more about it and all three cars made it to the end of the 12 Hours, which shows that the reliability is strong,” said Christodoulou.

“It was important to get feedback from drivers of all different experience levels because the GT4 is generally for those less experienced drivers coming up through the categories that are eventually going to be reaching GT3 or faster in the end. Some of them have been involved through AMG Customers Sports as customers already and we also had some new drivers in some of the other cars, but their feedback was very positive, which definitely bodes well for the future.”

In typically unseasonal October rain, the Briton would share driving duties of the No. 2 car with Saud Al Faisal and Spanish brothers Miguel and Alex Toril.

However, having four drivers would prove something of a disadvantage in qualifying, because series rules dictate that all drivers must complete at least two laps prior to the race in order to take part. But with just 60 minutes of track time split between a 40 minute practice session and 20 minutes of qualifying, so there wasn’t much time to waste.

Due to the foul conditions and Code 60s which extended each lap, Alex Toril only managed to complete his mandatory laps at the very end of qualifying, but his efforts were still enough for third on the grid.

“To do two flying laps around there means you actually have to do four laps, including the in and outlaps,” explained Christodoulou.

“Four laps in the wet takes around 12 minutes, so it wasn’t going to be possible to do the four drivers in the 40 minutes of practice anyway. But we also had two Code 60s during the practice as well, and a Code 60 means it takes seven minutes to do a lap, so Alex didn’t get in until the end of qualifying. He didn’t get a chance to really push, but lots of people were in the same boat.”

Christodoulou took the start on Saturday afternoon and immediately dispatched the leading TCR class entry to begin a nip-and-tuck battle with the identical HTP Motorsport test car driven by AMG legend Bernd Schneider, with whom Christodoulou won the 24 Hours of Nurburgring in 2016. After taking the lead from Schneider’s Mercedes-AMG at La Source, both cars were passed by Erik Janis in the RTR Projects KTM, which came on strong as the track dried.

But a well-timed switch to slick tyres during a Code 60 period – during which time he was lapping 15 seconds faster than anybody else – cycled Christodoulou back to the head of the pack after two hours, when he handed over to Saud. After three hours, the cars were placed into parc ferme for the overnight halt, with the Black Falcon Mercedes just under two minutes behind.

The field was neutralised in time for the remaining nine hours on Sunday morning, although the absence of the KTM through mechanical dramas meant Christodoulouwould have a clear run into the lead. With around half an hour of fuel in the tank, the Briton continued out front for another double stint before handing over to Miguel, who had suffered from a virus for much of the weekend.

After Toril’s single-stint in the worsening rain was complete, his brother Alex took the car over, but with four hours to go, an incident involving a slower car forced the team to relinquish their two lap lead and go to the garage for repairs to the left-front corner. Re-joining three laps down, fought hard to gain the time back but ran out of time to catch the class-leading Mercedes-AMG GT4 from the Uwe Alzen Motorsport stable and settled for second in class.

Although the end result didn’t live up to its earlier promise, Christodoulou believes the weekend met all objectives from a development standpoint.

“We definitely proved how good the car can be once it goes on sale for customers,” he concluded.
“We’re not allowed to use tyre warmers, which isn’t so much of a problem in Dubai as it is at Spa when its 7 degrees in the wet – but everyone seemed to love the car in the wet conditions, they all felt very comfortable with it.

“It’s proved to be very quick and we were very happy with the performance. It’s a shame we didn’t get many dry laps but I’ve really enjoyed being back behind the wheel after the 30 hour test that we did earlier in the year and seeing how it’s improved since then.”

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