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 // AdrenalMedia.com