24 Hours of Spa: Audi Claims Two Podium Finishes in Spa Thriller!

Audi dominated endurance racing again during the 66th running of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, once again proving the rigidity of the German car maker. In fact throughout the 24 hours race, four Audi R8 LMS cars were in the top five with only one BMW among them. In the end, the No.1 Audi R8 LMS Ultra of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT crossed the line first ahead of the No.77 BMW Z4 of BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS. The win was only decided in the final lap as both drivers were playing checkers throughout the whole race.

The PRO class had immense action especially between the Audi and BMW cars. Action was stopped several times due to incidents in the track such as the crash of Vyacheslav Maleev in the #100 SMP Racing Russian Bears Ferrari at the Raidillon corner after 95 minutes. The No.66 BMW Z4 which was leading the race at one point hit the rear of the No.11 Kessel Racing Ferrari when the driver misjudged the brakes. In total, he lost seven laps.

The biggest crash came when the No.333 GT Corse by Rinaldi Ferrari and the No. 111 Kessel Racing Ferrari crashed at the exit of the Paul Frère Curve. The driver of the No.111 car had to be stabilized before being airlifted and the race was red flagged for one hour. On restart, the leading No.3 Audi R8 LMS Ultra was slammed with a drive-through penalty for having entered the pit-lane during the red flag period. The car lost the lead to its sister car the No.1 Audi R8 LMS Ultra.

The team of Laurens Vanthoor, Markus Winkelhock and Rene Rast took the win in the PRO class in the No.1 Audi R8 LMS Ultra. Lucas Luhr, Dirk Werner and Markus Paltalla were second in this class in their No.77 BMW Z4 while Christopher Mies, Frank Stippler and James Nash finished third in the No.3 Audi R8 LMS Ultra giving Audi a two podium finish.

24 Hours of Spa

Action in the Pro-Am class was also intense with the No.90 Scuderia Villorba Corse Ferrari having taken the lead at night. The team would then lose several laps after stopping with gearbox issues. This left the fight to the No.53 AF Corse Ferrari, the No. 79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW and the No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari. They finished in that order, and were also well ranked overall in the top 10 in 6th, 7th and 8th places.

In the Gentleman class, the fight for victory was mainly between No. 42 Sport Garage Ferrari and the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari. The Sport Garage Ferrari would later make it easier for the AF Corse Ferrari after it lost its front wheel losing several laps into the race. Behind the No.51 Ferrari was a pack of fighting cars; the No.228 Delahaye Racing Porsche, the No.49 AF Corse Ferrari and the No.22 Team Parker Racing Audi. The Porsche fell back with suspension problems and the Audi would then cross the line ahead of the Ferrari to finish the race in second.

Results:

24 Hours of Spa

Quotes:
René Rast (#1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi): “It was a very emotional moment for me when I crossed the line, because it was a very hard race. I was really exhausted, both emotionally and physically. We had to push all race long, but we knew we had a good package to take the win in this race.”

Dirk Werner (#77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS BMW): “Not changing tires at the last pitstop was our last option to try and stay in front of the Audi. We had experienced some small electronical problems during the final four hours, which was a shame, because up until then the car was running beautifully. We had a good weekend nevertheless, driving a strong race, especially during the night. I was a little disappointed at first, but for the Marc VDS team it is great to finish on the podium of the biggest Belgian race there is.”

Christopher Mies (#3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi): “Pitting during the red flag period did not give us as much of an advantage as we had expected. We had some small issues with the car, so we had to pit anyway. We tried something different, but it did not pay off as expected. Still, we are very happy to finish on the podium.”

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