Pole-winning Ferrari leads at Spa after opening hour
Once the thousands of guests who had enjoyed the pre-race festivities on the starting grid had found their way to the grandstands and the roof of the pit buildings, everything was set for the formation lap that preceded the rolling start of the 69th running of the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
In bright sunshine, 63 cars took the start with Giancarlo Fisichella in the pole-sitting #55 Kaspersky Ferrari leading the field into Eau Rouge and up the Raidillon, followed by Mirko Bortolotti in the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini and Kévin Estre, who quickly worked his way up into third place with the #117 KÜS Team75 Bernhard Porsche.
These three cars dominated proceedings at the front of the field for most of the opening hour, followed by René Rast in the #1 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi and Maximilian Buhk in the #84 Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport Mercedes. Bortolotti then was the first driver among the front-runners to make a pit stop at the end of lap 20, 48 minutes into the racer.
One hour into the race, Johnny Adam holds a comfortable lead in the Pro-Am class in the #97 Oman Racing Team with TF Sport Aston Martin in seventh place overall. Next up in class is Sven Müller in the #912 Herberth Motorsport Porsche in 20th place overall.
The best-placed AM car is the #888 Kessel Racing Ferrari with David Perel driving, followed by Chris Goodwin in the #188 Garage59 McLaren and Rino Mastronardi in the #488 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari.
Following their chassis and engine changes, the #00 Good Smile Racing & Team Ukyo Mercedes and the #22 Motul Team RJN Motorsport Nissan joined the field from the pitlane, but there was further trouble for the Nissan as the car came to a halt with Struan Moore behind the wheel on its very first lap. Later, the car got going again. As announced previously, both cars were issued a two minutes’ stop-and-go penalty because of the chassis and engine change.
The first drive-through penalty in the race went to Michele Beretta in the #12 Ombra Racing Lamborghini for causing a collision. Several drivers were given warnings for track limit infringements.