24Hours of Spa: The real test for cars and drivers both!

Posted by Karim Ojjeh

NEWS: 24Hours of Spa, The real test for cars and drivers both!

29.07-01.08 Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

NEWS: 24Hours of Spa, The real test for cars and drivers both!

Two weeks before the race I trained in the simulator - getting back on my marks, my sequencing, and my focus. To some, the simulator might be nonsense or something of no matter, but I can tell you by experience, today, it is a must for everyone to be prepared!

5 days before the race, Tuesday, we had the bronze test. It went fine until we got hit with heavy rain. The car felt good. Then came the “long” Thursday. We started at 10:55 am and finished the next morning at 00:55! We had a good qualifying session, finishing in the middle of our pack. We felt good for the race.

We decide to have our pro driver start the race which at the end was a good thing, as all cars in our category did the same. Everyone wanted to play it safe.

Unfortunately, 10 laps into the race, the full-course-yellow (FCY) was deployed due to a very very heavy accident at the top of the Raidillon. 4 cars were involved. Three cars were destroyed. All drivers ended up at the hospital. Two left and were fine. One was badly injured with broken vertebrae and another one with broken bones, flown to the UK. The other had minor injuries.

What happened?

The first car had a puncture going up the Raidillon and went into the wall, ending in the middle of the circuit. Another car slammed into him and then another. On the second hit, the engine/gearbox flew off the car! Luckily everyone is still alive. The race continued under FCY for 40 minutes at which time the team brought me in the car.

The safety car was deployed and the race restarted 10 minutes later. We had a good pace. The weather kept on changing from dry to rain and dry - it was Spa! All the drivers/mechanics/team did a great job until the next day at noon, at which point we had raced more than 70% of the race.

The 70% is an important milestone in a 24h race as it means that you have completed the minimum amount of time/race laps which allows you to be classified. Although we did not need to “finish” the race and take the checkered flag, we did. 20 minutes before the end, the car, having been repaired, left the pits for the last time and crossed the finish line. It was the last time for the BMW M6 GT3 to cross the finish line at 24h of Spa. We were also the ONLY BMW to have finished as the other BMWs all had to be retired.

Why did we stop at 12:00 pm, 4 hours before the end, and then return back at the end?

Because the car was “broken”, it was done with. No, we did not have an accident. We had a slight impact at night, but it did not affect the car’s condition. The car was finished: suspension broken, dampers broken, anti-roll bar broken, headlights broken … etc. The car took such a hit it could not continue.

The brutality/speed of the race is such that you need to go on every single curb. The constant attacking, lap after lap, was too much. It was not only the car that was impacted but also the drivers. We were constantly pushed, back and forth, our helmet hitting the roll cage, our bodies flying up and down within our seat belt, that it took me 48 hours to recuperate. It was tough!

So we finished 32nd overall, out of 58, 8th in class, out of 15. We said goodbye to Spa. We have two races left, Nürburgring (beginning of September) and Barcelona (middle of October), after which the BMW M6 GT3 will be retired.

A big thanks to all of you for your support. I wish you all a good end to the summer wherever you are. Be safe. Be healthy.

Karim Ojjeh

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps Facts

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is a motorsport race track built in 1924 near the town of Francorchamps within the Belgian Ardennes.

The circuit, which is nicknamed The Cathedral of Speed, is best known as the venue for the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix, which it first hosted in 1925.

The track is famous for its top-speed section called the F1-Beckers Curve and the downhill plunge to Stavelot named Eau Rouge. The circuit is located in the Ardennes Forest, east of Francorchamps town. The forest also lends the track its name as it is a shortened version of Circuit des 24 heures du Mans, due to the fact that it takes exactly 24 hours to complete the race distance of the endurance classic held here since 1923.



In order to create a product that really works you must have experienced one that doesn't. After years of racing Karim Ojjeh decided to take matters into his own hands.

Following his maiden participation at the 2005 Le Mans 24 Hours, where he finished second in class, he looked forward to driving his Lamborghini back to home in Switzerland. After the podium ceremony he changed out of his racing gear and jumped into his sports car. Immediately he felt that the connection he had enjoyed with his racer was missing in his road car.


He stopped at the next gas station and put his racing boots back on, problem solved. It was at this point he decided to create a shoe that was to be both stylish and casual but had the performance of a traditional racing boot.

The KO-Racer driving shoes were born.



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