SPA24h: Riccardo Patrese and Loic Depailler in the NSX GT3 at Spa 24 Hours

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Honda NSX GT3, Bertrand Baguette, Estebam Guerrieri, Ricardo Patrese, Loi Depailler. Castrol Honda Racing Press
Hon­da NSX GT3, Bertrand Baguette, Este­bam Guer­ri­eri, Ricar­do Patrese, Loi Depailler. Cas­trol Hon­da Rac­ing Press

Cas­trol Hon­da Rac­ing are delight­ed to announce that Ric­car­do Patrese and Loic Depailler, have com­plet­ed the line-up for the 24 Hours of Spa on July 26–29.

Via Cas­trol Hon­da Rac­ing Press

The pair join Hon­da offi­cial dri­vers Bertrand Baguette and Este­ban Guer­ri­eri in the NSX GT3, derived from Honda’s next-gen­er­a­tion 3.5-litre twin-tur­bocharged V6 super­car in the Blanc­pain Endurance Series’ show­piece event.

The car is entered in the pro-am cat­e­go­ry, which requires a min­i­mum of two ‘bronze’ FIA clas­si­fied dri­vers along­side the pros.

Aged 64 and there­fore auto­mat­i­cal­ly clas­si­fied ‘bronze’, Ric­car­do spent 17 years rac­ing at motorsport’s high­est lev­el and was a win­ner in both For­mu­la 1 and the World Sports­car Cham­pi­onship.

Becom­ing the first dri­ver to start 200 For­mu­la 1 grands prix, the Ital­ian won six times and scored 37 podi­ums. He was the World Cham­pi­onship run­ner-up in 1992 and also, sig­nif­i­cant­ly, tri­umphed at the 1985 Spa 1000km sports­car race.

French­man Loic is best-known as Co-Edi­tor-in-Chief of Top Gear Mag­a­zine in France and is one of the most high­ly-respect­ed auto­mo­tive jour­nal­ists in his home­land.

The son of grand prix win­ner Patrick Depailler, Loic was born with motor­sport in his blood and after com­pet­ing full-time in For­mu­la Renault dur­ing the 1990s, he moved into sports­cars and took a num­ber of top-six fin­ish­es in the FIA Sports Car Cup in Europe and Grand-Am in the USA.

In recent years he has con­test­ed select­ed events around his busy sched­ule and made appear­ances in French GT and Clio Cup and the Le Mans Clas­sic.

Both drove the NSX GT3 at Cervesina, Italy, last month, and again at the offi­cial 24 Hours of Spa test the fol­low­ing week as they sought to famil­iarise them­selves.

The NSX GT3 made its com­pet­i­tive debut in 2016 and became a race win­ner in the North Amer­i­can-based IMSA Weath­erTech Sports Car Cham­pi­onship and the Pirelli World Chal­lenge in its first full sea­son of com­pe­ti­tion.

As part of the NSX GT3 Cus­tomer Rac­ing Pro­gramme – a col­lab­o­ra­tive project between Hon­da Motor, JAS Motor­sport and Hon­da Per­for­mance Devel­op­ment (HPD), exam­ples con­test series in Europe, Asia and North Amer­i­ca.

Ric­car­do Patrese said: “Spa-Fran­cor­champs has been one of my favourite cir­cuits for a long, long time and I thought I’d raced there for the last time 25 years ago, so when I was giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to join Cas­trol Hon­da Rac­ing and dri­ve such an excit­ing car as the NSX GT3, I couldn’t say no. The car han­dles very well and is nice to dri­ve in the high-speed sec­tions as well as the slow­er cor­ners. I haven’t had too much seat time in the car yet so I’m re-learn­ing things every time I com­plete anoth­er lap, but I’m excit­ed about the race the car and to work again with a team and breathe in the atmos­phere of a race.”

Loic Depailler said: “I’m thrilled to be tak­ing part in the Spa 24 Hours for the first time, and to do it with such an icon­ic brand as the NSX. Right now we’re prob­a­bly in the most com­pet­i­tive era of GT rac­ing there has ever been and the entry list for Spa is stag­ger­ing in its qual­i­ty and size. The pro-am divi­sion is packed with strong dri­vers and teams and I’d put our­selves in among that. Este­ban has been test­ing this car since the start of the year and Bertrand is one of the fastest dri­vers in SuperGT, while Ric­car­do has so much race expe­ri­ence that I’m sure I can learn some­thing from all of them and push myself to new lim­its with the car.”

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