- Hong Kong driver overcomes setbacks at gruelling 24-hour endurance race in Spa-Francorchamps to claim P3 in Bronze class
- Sky Tempesta Racing trio jump to GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup class championship lead
- Hui extends lead in Intercontinental GT Challenge Independent Cup with 2 rounds to go
Hong Kong’s Jonathan Hui snagged another remarkable result to continue his incredible run of podiums in 2023, at one of the most revered GT endurance racing events on the calendar, the 75th Crowdstrike 24 Hours of Spa. Alongside his season-long Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup team, Sky Tempesta Racing, Hui and his teammates Chris Froggatt (GBR), Eddie Cheever III (ITA) and Jeffrey Schmidt (SUI) staged an epic comeback, starting from P14 in the Bronze class (P46 overall) to finish on the podium at the end of what is considered the toughest GT race in the world. With this result, Hui moves into the top spot of the Fanatec GT World Challenge (GTWC) Europe Endurance Cup Powered by AWS Bronze Drivers’ Standings and has also managed to extend his lead in the globe-trotting Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) Powered by Pirelli Independent Cup.
Hui travelled to Belgium for his fifth attempt at the daunting 24-hour classic in the Ardennes with the goal to take over the championship lead in the GT World Challenge Europe and solidify his position as the leader in the IGTC championship. He managed to achieve both of these goals, however, it did not come without its fair share of troubles and tribulations. The team struggled to find a good balance on Thursday due to constantly changing track conditions. In Qualifying, which started dry and ended with heavy rain, despite their best efforts they were unable to extract the most out of the #93 McLaren, resulting in P46 overall and P14 out of 21 in the Bronze class.
Starting in the middle of the pack, the team was focused on maximising the GTWC Europe championship points that would be given out at the 6, 12 and 24-hour mark. A 30-second penalty due to track limit infringements in the opening stages dropped the car back 2 positions and compromised their points-scoring position, ultimately crossing the 6-hour mark in P5. However, the UK-based outfit was keen to bounce back and the drivers kept their heads down to deliver some incident-free stints, bringing them back into contention.
At the 12-hour point scoring mark, the Sky Tempesta Racing squad had managed to get the Sky-liveried #93 McLaren 720S GT3 Evo up to P2 in class, leading to a healthy points haul and setting them up nicely for the closing half of the race. An issue during the brake change in the mandatory technical stop lost Hui and his teammates nearly 1 minute, but they remained undeterred and kept pushing to maximise the end result. The Hong Kong driver showed tremendous driving skill in the McLaren, which allowed him to clock in quick lap times that were consistently amongst the top-3 Bronze-rated drivers in the field, and aid the team to fight for the podium places in the closing stages.
Cheever’s final stint provided yet more drama as he closed in on the second-placed Bronze class Porsche and looked primed to mount a challenge before realizing the car was short on fuel due to a technical issue in the final pit stop. This forced the team to make an unscheduled fuel stop 11 minutes before the chequered flag fell, unfortunately taking them out of contention for the top-2 positions.
Hui and his teammates eventually crossed the finish line P3 in the Bronze class (P18 overall), which was an impressive result considering the numerous issues that the team was faced with during the unpredictable and extremely challenging 24-hour classic. The result was, however, good enough to hand him the lead in the Drivers’ Standings for the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup in the Bronze class by 4 points as he heads into the final part of the season. Additionally, Hui also scored essential points towards his Intercontinental GT Challenge Independent Cup campaign, the second highest offered from this race, behind fellow Hong Kong driver Antares Au, who claimed class honours. Hui will be looking to carry his impressive momentum of podium finishes as he heads to the next round of the GTWC Europe championship at Nurburgring in Germany from the 29th to the 30th of July, 2023.
Jonathan Hui | Driver, #93 Sky Tempesta Racing McLaren 720S GT3 Evo “There were many highs and lows throughout this edition of the 24 Hours of Spa. The physical and mental demands to compete at this level are hard to describe, and that’s probably why many people call it the toughest GT race in the world. We came here with a main goal to take over the GT World Challenge Europe championship lead, and also to consolidate my position in the Intercontinental GT Challenge Independent Cup standings as the leader, and both of these objectives were achieved so a big thanks to the whole team for all their efforts. Of course, it would’ve been a dream to win the race too but I’m delighted that another fellow Hong Kong racer and friend Antares Au took the crown. We’ll be back again to hunt for the top step.”
Chris Froggatt | Driver, #93 Sky Tempesta Racing McLaren 720S GT3 Evo “This race is always a rollercoaster of emotions. We struggled at the start of the weekend with car balance. Had a really difficult Qualifying, resulting in a poor starting position. But, I think we had a really good mentality over the weekend and approach to the race. We made the least mistakes or infringements as drivers (compared to ourselves in previous years) and kept grinding through the day and night, with the podium positions always in sight. Our luck changed through the night and we found ourselves in second, eventually finishing third due to a few issues out of our control. I am very proud of the work my teammates and crew put into the race this weekend. It was mentally and physically tough but worth every second, walking away with another Spa podium and leading the Championship!”
Eddie Cheever III | Driver, #93 Sky Tempesta Racing McLaren 720S GT3 Evo “We are coming out of the 24 Hours of Spa as leaders of a very difficult championship so I couldn’t be more proud of the team. The goal was obviously to win it and we had all the ingredients to do so but it just wasn’t meant to be this year. I want to thank the team for their dedication and hard work on this great achievement.”
Jeffrey Schmidt | Driver, #93 Sky Tempesta Racing McLaren 720S GT3 Evo “It was a pleasure sharing the Sky Tempesta Racing McLaren with Chris, Jon and Eddie. Everyone in the team did a flawless job, which secured us a spot on the podium after starting on P14 in the class due to the weather chaos in the qualification. Being back on the podium in the toughest GT3 race in the world is always something to remember! A big thanks to my teammates and the Sky Tempesta team for their trust in me in helping the guys to get the well-deserved trophy. I wish them a very successful second half of the season – go and get that title!”