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"All our hopes dashed in a second"

Nico Verdonck had every reason to believe in achieving a good result during the 67th edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa. At the wheel of the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 entered by the Black Falcon team and together with his teammates Adam Christodoulou and Andreas Simonsen, the Brussels based driver had put together all the pieces of the puzzle to perform brilliantly in the Ardennes classic. Unfortunately a blundering competitor ruined Nico’s race on Saturday evening.

Even before the traditional Total 24 Hours of Spa fireworks display Nico Verdonck knew that this 67th edition of the greatest GT race in the world was not to be. “And yet the start of the race had gone well for us seeing we had even slotted our Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 up into second spot for a moment”, Nico commented. “Then a poor choice of tyres just before the rain reappeared caused us to lose some ground. But we had succeeded in climbing back up from a 20th place into 11th spot by nightfall. I was battling hard to get into to the top 10 and was clocking up some fast lap times. It was dark and I was on the dry line when I took on the la Source hairpin. Unfortunately I was the victim of a clumsy attack put in by Andrea Piccini. He was coming from far too far back, on the wet track on the inside, and he hit me violently and my right side. Within a second I realised that it was all over seeing the damage was pretty serious.”

It goes without saying that it was a bitter disappointment for Nico and the entire Black Falcon team. “We truly had a great opportunity here”, the Belgian continued. ” We hadn’t overdone it during qualifying with the sole objective of preparing for the actual race. And we were aware that everything was going to our liking prior to this senseless attack from the Ferrari driver, who is in fact a professional. When one knows the amount of work involved in preparing for an event such as this one …and then, in one second everything is reduced to nothing through no fault of our own. That’s hard to swallow... “

When it comes to assessing the situation Nico Verdonck prefers to look to the future. “Unfortunately this type of incident is part and parcel of the race”, the Brussels based driver added. “ Regardless of that I’m not throwing in the towel! I truly wish to thank Mercedes Belgium, AMG and all my partners for their on-going support. I would also wish to take this opportunity to thank all the loyal fans who notwithstanding the extreme climatic conditions cheered us on day and night. I look forward to setting up a future rendezvous with one and all, notably during the following upcoming meeting of the VLN championship on the Nordschleife, and hoping that this time around at least some success might be on my side.”