It is a partnership that has lasted for more than 20 years. What's more, there are no clouds gathering on the horizon – a rare occurrence when it comes to Spa-Francorchamps! After joining the 24 Hours of Spa as a partner at the end of the nineties, Total remained committed through the change that occurred in 2001, when the race was placed under the leadership of SRO Motorsports Group and transformed into a GT event.
Since 2007 the brand has strengthened its ties further by becoming title sponsor of what is now firmly established as the Total 24 Hours of Spa. The multi-energy group also supplies the high-performance fuel used by all competitors and draws upon motorsport both for its image and to develop its products.
A few days from what will be an exceptional 2020 edition, Bernadette Spinoy, CEO of Total Belgium, explains the very close ties shared by the brand and the twice-around-the-clock race.
Mrs Spinoy, Total has been the title sponsor of the 24 Hours of Spa since 2007 and you recently extended your contract for a further three years. What does this event represent for Total Belgium?
“The Total 24 Hours of Spa is clearly the biggest GT race in the world and takes place on what many consider to be the most beautiful circuit in the world. Like the 24 Hours, we are the leaders in our field. This legendary race allows us not only to reach the general public, but also to welcome our customers in a very special context. During a normal edition, around 20,000 people are invited to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the event. The COVID-19 crisis will unfortunately prevent us from doing so this year, but the efforts of SRO Motorsports Group and Total to ensure that the race is broadcast live – completely free of charge – will allow fans to experience it as intensely as possible. As for the 5,000 customers who had already won a ticket to attend this year's race, we look forward to welcoming them as soon as public can return to the circuit. All being well, that will at next year's edition (29 July to 1 August 2021)."
What values do the 24 Hours of Spa and Total share?
"There are many: performance, quality, reliability, safety, pioneering spirit, solidarity. When we talk about performance, quality and reliability, it goes far beyond our products: these are also values that we promote in the services we offer to our clients. For solidarity, it goes without saying that motorsport, especially endurance racing, is above all a team effort. Finally, let's not forget the pioneering spirit, because competition has often pushed the boundaries of what we thought possible."
In this regard, motorsport has often been referred to as a test bed for new technologies. Is this still the case?
"Of course. Total is the exclusive fuel supplier for SRO Motorsports Group championships and this role allows us to continuously develop our products. A competition fuel is a clever mix, a special recipe for withstanding the enormous demands of racing. You have to take into account the energy content, combustion speed, power and consumption. The Core 50 fuel used by every Total 24 Hours of Spa competitor is proven to provide significant power gains while maintaining engine reliability."
And what about lubricants?
“We do not have exclusivity in this area, but we are proud to see that many competitors use Total Quartz lubricants and that very often these prevail at the end of the 24 Hours. Once again, the constraints on the mechanics during this race are enormous. A good lubricant will protect the engine by limiting clogging and reducing friction, which has the effect of both improving performance and reducing fuel consumption. On this point as well, competition allows us to develop new technologies that are then found in our products."
The world of mobility is currently going through great changes. Do you think motorsport should play a role in what is called ‘the energy transition’?
“Obviously, but it has not waited for these changes. Historically, competitors have sought maximum efficiency, and making better use of the allocated energy is one of the keys to winning. Loving motorsport does not contradict respect for the environment. Moreover, the CO2 produced by the race will be offset by participation in various forest preservation projects. In the future, it is obvious that sport will continue to play a pioneering role. Whatever type of energy is used, Total will be there to push the boundaries and deliver the results of its research to its customers."
As someone who has often come to watch the race, what are the key moments for you?
"There are a lot of them. Like everyone, I feel a special emotion at the start, in the middle of the night, or when the chequered flag drops and you see the joy of the winners. In recent years, the Total 24 Hours of Spa has been very unpredictable on the sporting front and that makes the victory even more special. Normally, I particularly like moments of excitement such as the parade or the concert, but I also appreciate the conviviality that is created with our customers and our guests. Everyone is more relaxed so we can get to know each other better and share good times. Attending the Total 24 Hours of Spa is a mixture of passion and emotion. Even in this exceptional year, I am sure that these two ingredients will be there for all the fans and for the participants. May the best team win!”