Audi claim unlikely victory in Spa thriller

posted in: LMGTE, LMGTE-Am, LMGTE-Pro, LMP, LMP1, LMP2, WEC | 0

What seemed to be a race for Toy­ota went up in smoke with two hours remain­ing. Reli­a­bil­i­ty issues were the sto­ry of the day, which led to an unlike­ly vic­to­ry for Audi in Bel­guim.

Toy­ota seemed to have it in the bag going into the final half of the race, how­ev­er with two hours to go dra­ma struck the Japan­ese team. What appeared to be an engine issue brought Kazu­ki Naka­ji­ma into the pits from the lead and in turn into retire­ment, hand­ing the lead to the #8 Audi. Aston­ish­ing­ly, Porsche’s #2 car inher­it­ed the sec­ond posi­tion and the #13 Rebel­lion once again in third posi­tion over­all.

A tur­bo issue then brought the #66 Ford GT into the pit lane, how­ev­er unlike the #5 Toy­ota, the Ford did return to the cir­cuit at the hands of Ste­fan Mucke.

The race final­ly set­tled down until when with one hour to go Ste­fan Mucke lost con­trol of his #66 Ford GT going up Eau Rouge and almost took off at the top of the hill, before smash­ing into the tyre wall com­plete­ly rip­ping the front end and both doors off the car. This brought out a full safe­ty car which in turn bunched up the field head­ing into the final hour.

With 45 min­utes to go it seemed as if the day might have come back to Porsche when the #8 Audi went into the garage from the lead. Audi changed the rear body work due to a shift in the aero­dy­nam­ics they could see through the teleme­try.

GTE-AM was next to throw up action, and for what seemed like the first time in the race, it was action that did not end with a car in the pit lane. Pedro Lamy over­took Fran­cois Per­ro­do for the lead of the class in a tight bat­tle. It only took a cou­ple more laps for Patrick Long to make the move on Perrodo’s Fer­rari to claim sec­ond in the GTE-AM class.

In the mean­time, Mar­cel Fassler, in an attempt to close down the fourth place Rebel­lion of Nick Hei­d­feld, the Swiss dri­ver miss judged a move on the RGR Morand car which caused the Audi to crash at La Source, mean­ing the Audi was to be stuck in fifth posi­tion.

Dra­ma then hit the #51 Fer­rari of Cal­a­do and Bruni, forc­ing it into the garage with 9 min­utes remain­ing, there­fore hand­ing the lead to the #71 of Bird and Rigon.

In LMP2, Lapierre pit­ted for a splash and dash from the lead of the class, hand­ing the lead to the #31 ESM of Derani. How­ev­er, Lapierre re passed the Ligi­er of Derani with a move around the out­side of both the Brazil­ian and the Ford GT of Mari­no Fran­chit­ti at the chi­cane.

While all that was going on, Porsche’s #1 car man­aged to com­plete exact­ly 70 per­cent of the win­ning race dis­tance, mean­ing that is was only just clas­si­fied for points. How­ev­er less than expect­ed. The #5 Toy­ota left the pit lane right at the end of the race to com­plete a 1:59:31.418 lap, to get 12 world cham­pi­onship points.

The win for the #8 Audi means the first win for Oliv­er Jarvis, Loic Duval and Lucas di Gras­si as a dri­ver trio and the first win for Jarvis and di Gras­si in the WEC.  Sec­ond place went to Porsche and their #2 919 Hybrid, if you can call it that. The Porsche run­ning with a hybrid issue for 5 hours and 45 min­utes of the 6. Third went to a sen­sa­tion­al Rebel­lion Rac­ing team’s #13 car, mak­ing a repeat over­all podi­um after their Sil­ver­stone glo­ry.

The #13 Rebel­lion also there­fore won the LMP1 pri­va­teer class. The #12 Rebel­lion once again fin­ished fourth over­all and sec­ond in class ahead of the ByKolles in third.

LMP2 saw the first win for Alpine in a closed cock­pit car. Sec­ond went to the #31 Extreme Speed Motor­sports Ligi­er for the sec­ond race in a row. Third went the way of the #45 Manor car, which will be very well received as they have to miss Le Mans next month due to miss­ing the entry dead­line.

GTE-PRO was snatched away from the #51 car in the dying stages of the race, how­ev­er vic­to­ry still went the way of AF Corse. Sam Bird and Davide Rigon won the race ahead of the #67 Ford GT in sec­ond, and Stan­away, Rees and Adam fin­ished third in class in their Aston Mar­tin

In GTE-AM Pedro Lamy, Paul Dal­la Lana and Math­ias Lau­da won the class in their Aston Mar­tin. Sec­ond went the way of the #83 AF Corse Fer­rari ahead of the Lar­bre Com­pe­ti­tion Corvette mak­ing it three cars in the top three of GTE-AM.

The 2016 Six hours of Spa will go down in his­to­ry as a fan­tas­tic race, how­ev­er lets not for­get what this race is lead­ing too. The next time a WEC race starts, it will be the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the 18th of June.

Images: WEC-Mag­a­zin //