2014 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup: Belgium preview
Spa-Francorchamps, deep in Belgium’s Ardennes Forest, is the setting for round seven of the 2014 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup season and, after a month-long break, the championship frontrunners will be keen to return to battle at the fearsome 4.35-mile circuit.
Last time out in Hungary, Kuba Giermaziak scored his third victory of the season, extending his championship advantage over International Scholarship winner, Earl Bamber (who finished third) to nine points.
Giermaziak will once again be looking for another good finish as the 2014 championship race comes towards its conclusion in Austin, Texas in November. The Pole has tasted success at the Belgian circuit before (in 2011) however, the VERVA Lechner driver will be hoping for better luck than last year.
The current championship leader was on course for victory at Spa last season until a gearbox gremlin manifested itself on the final lap, dropping the Pole to 11th and allowing Klaus Bachler to take his maiden Supercup win.
Bachler will be another driver looking for a successful Spa weekend. The Austrian racer has yet to finish on the podium this season, with fourth place at Hockenheimring his best finish.
A strong result for Bachler could see the young gun jump into contention for a top-three championship finish as, although currently residing in seventh, the Konrad Motorsport driver is tied on 50 points with Christian Engelhart and Philipp Eng.
2013 champion, Nicki Thiim has enjoyed a strong return to the Supercup since joining the grid at Silverstone. The Dane won in Germany before crossing the line just behind Giermaziak at the Hungaroring. He will be one to watch this weekend.
Bamber’s championship challenge could hinge on the next few races, with Spa being key to his title tilt. The Kiwi has not raced at Spa before and will need to get up to speed quickly in order to stay in contact with the vastly experienced Giermaziak.
After missing round one, Michael Ammermüller has been massively consistent, finishing fifth in the last four races to move into third place in the drivers’ standings. A podium in Belgium could help to cement his position.
Total 911’s Supercup star, Ben Barker will be hoping for a stronger weekend at Spa than the Briton has been experiencing on his last couple of F1-supporting outings. After a podium in round one, Barker has struggled for consistency, even if his speed has not often been found wanting.
The 22-year-old has been keeping sharp with multiple appearances in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship (although he will have to miss this weekend’s round in Virginia) but Barker will need to adopt a more attacking mentality for the shorter Supercup encounter.
To read Ben’s latest column, as well as those of Porsche factory racer, Nick Tandy, and Carrera Cup GB championship leader, Josh Webster, pick up a copy of Total 911 issue 117, in store or online now. Alternatively, download it here.