30 July 2017

High noon at Spa: Eight cars, six brands still on the lead lap

High noon at Spa: Eight cars, six brands still on the lead lap

With four and a half hours remaining in the Total 24 Hours, there are still eight cars from six different brands on the lead lap, so it is almost impossible to make any predictions about who will win the 69th running of the classic Belgian endurance race. At noon, the #90 Akka ASP Mercedes is in the lead from a pair of Audis: the #1 Audi Sport Team WRT car and the #25 Audi Sport Team Saintéloc entry.

Again, there has been plenty of action in the hours between sunrise and noon. The GRT Grasser Racing Team, in contention for a podium finish for a long time, saw all its hopes blown as Christian Engelhart crashed the #63 Lamborghini into the tyre stacks in the double left-hander at the end of the Kemmel straight with what looked like a brake issue. While the German got out of the car by himself, the safety car was deployed. Just after the restart, the #1 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi with René Rast and the #90 Akka ASP Mercedes with Raffaele Marciello tangled and both cars spun. They were able to continue their race, but Rast was called in for a drive-through penalty for having caused the collision.

Various cars have been taking turns in the lead of the field, including the #98 ROWE Racing BMW, the #8 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley, the #117 KÜS Team75 Bernhard Porsche as well as the #90 Akka ASP Mercedes and the two Audis of the Audi Sport Team WRT and Audi Sport Team Saintéloc.

The #16 Black Falcon Mercedes successfully defends its lead in the Pro-Am class, but the #97 Oman Racing Team with TF Sport Aston Martin is following closely behind and could already seal an early Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup title with a good result at Spa. The #961 Spirit of Race Ferrari is third in class.

Meanwhile, Ferrari’s 1-2 in the Am class has been broken: the #888 Kessel Racing Ferrari is still in the lead with the relatively comfortable margin of six laps, but the #36 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW has overcome its troubles from earlier in the race and has now worked its way up into second place in class, demoting the #488 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari to third. The #991 Speedlover Porsche maintains its Groupe National lead.