Kevin Gleason is looking for an upturn in fortunes when he hits Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the first time in the latest round of the 2016 TCR International Series (6-8 May).
The American is a proven race winner in the TCR International Series, but the opening two rounds of the 2016 season in Bahrain and Portugal haven’t been kind to him and he has been unable to show his true potential.
Nevertheless, Gleason’s unwavering determination will see him go to Belgium’s beloved Spa circuit with a keen desire to bring his season back into line on what is “a bucket list track” for him.
Tucked deep into the Ardennes Forest in the Belgian province of Liege, Spa-Francorchamps remains one of motorsport’s sternest challenges due to its undulations and fast-flowing corners.
The circuit is characterised by an intoxicating combination of white-knuckle turns, including the driver and fan favourite, Eau Rouge – a steep left-right-left sequence with a blind summit – the double-apexed Pouhon and the flat-out Blanchimont.
The region’s erratic climate only increases the peril and Gleason is aware how steep a learning curve he faces, saying: “For me, Spa is a bucket list track. It’s widely regarded as one of the best in the world and I feel really lucky to be racing there this weekend. I expect the circuit’s length, it’s fast corners and high-speed nature to suit me well and one of the best moments will be flying through Eau Rouge – one of the most famous corners in the world – for the first time! But it’s also a formidable and technically demanding circuit and, as it has been such a difficult year for me so far, I’m just going to drive as best I can.”
There is a change in the TCR International Series’ usual format, as two 30-minute free practice sessions will be held at 11.30 and 15.45 on Thursday (5 May), with qualifying at 13.40 and race one at 17.30 on Friday (6 May) afternoon and race two on Saturday (7 May) at 12.35.