Since his first start in the Spa 24 Hours in 2002, Andrea Bertolini has become one of the most successful drivers of the 21st century. Beginning with his first victory in 2006 aboard the magnificent Maserati MC12 GT1 to his latest success in the Ardennes in 2014 when he won the Pro-Am class with Ferrari, the Italian has collected four wins in the 24-hour classic.
This year, Bertolini has scored one Pro-Am class win each in Blancpain GT Endurance and the World Challenge with co-drivers Niek Hommerson and Louis Machiels. For Spa, the trio will be strengthened with Ferrari superstar Toni Vilander.
“We have a good feeling,” Andrea Bertolini says. “After a really unlucky start in Monza we began putting everything together because we have a good driver line-up for the Pro-Am class, and our performance has also always been good, and we started to score important points.
“Now, the next one is the most important, the big one: Spa. For us it’s one of the most important races — as it is for everyone. We’ve had a good history there and a strong line-up for Spa with Niek, Louis, Toni and myself.
“It’ll be tough as always, but I think we are ready to fight. It’ll be an amazing race for the world of GT3 with important points on the table at 6, 12 and 24 hours. The championship is always decided in Spa with all the points available there. We’ll be focused and have prepared in the best possible way and we will see.”
After nearly two decades in top level GT racing and with two outright Spa 24 Hours victories celebrated with Maserati during the GT1 era, Bertolini, at age 45, now races for Pro-Am class wins — with success in 2012 and 2014.
None of his four victories are any more or less special than the other, Bertolini says, not even his outright wins with Maserati.
“Every time when you win in Spa you feel something unique; it doesn’t matter if it’s overall or the class, it is something special. Believe me, they are 24 very hard hours for the drivers, really demanding. For me, physically, Spa is more demanding on the body than Le Mans. Le Mans is a more mental race where you have to be very focused all the time. But for the body, Spa’s track layout is very tough.
“We are really a family at Ferrari. I was lucky to have been part of the MC12 project, it was like a family as well at that time. Antonello Coletta, our boss, he always takes care of the driver selection: It’s Ferrari first and then the drivers. We are a real team and have a very strong relationship all together, working towards the target to give Ferrari the best possible achievement.”