JOTA take historic win after disrupted Spa race

#12 Hertz Team JOTA drivers Will Stevens and Callum Ilott in the pit lane after winning the 2024 6 Hours of Spa

Hertz Team JOTA secured an historic victory at the 2024 6 Hours of Spa in a race marred by multiple stoppages and a controversial extention to the original distance.

The British-entered #12 Porsche 963 of Calum Ilott and Will Stevens recorded the first ever win for a privateer Hypercar entry, finishing around 20 seconds ahead of the factory #6 Porsche 963 of Kévin Estre, Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor. Third was the #50 AF Corse Ferrari, with the #51 Ferrari back in P4.

The race began with the #5 Porsche 963 of Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen and Frédéric Makowiecki on pole position alongside the #2 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R of Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn. Original polesetter Antonio Fuoco and his Ferrari teammates Miguel Molina and Niklas Nielsen had been relegated to the back of the grid due to a minimum weight infraction.

Der Start in Spa

However, it was third on the grid #99 Proton Competition Porsche 963 that made the early running in the race, firstly in the hands of young Frenchman Julien Andlauer and subsequently Neel Jani. Makowiecki led off the line but Andlauer was soon on the tail of the works Porsche, passing the #5 after a gutsy move into the final chicane. The #99 then held the lead for most of the middle section of the race. Behind, the works Ferraris moved up into second and third ahead of the Porsches, with the Toyotas battling with the sole Cadillac back in sixth and seventh.

First safety car cuts Proton lead

In the first of numerous slices of bad fortune during the race, the Proton Competition car’s lead of 15 seconds was then eradicated after 1.5 hours. The safety car was called to neutralise the race after a major incident involving the #38 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche and the #46 Team WRT BMW GT3 car – both of which were out of the race immediately. Significant barrier repairs were required, and the cars spent the best part of an hour under safety car conditions.

As the race returned to green, Neel Jani in the #99 and James Calado in the #51 Ferrari engaged in an epic battle for the lead, spending multiple laps practically nose to tail. The #51 eventually passed the Proton Competition machine and led at the four-hour stage by around 30 seconds.

Das Safety Car in Spa

Cadillac shunt hands JOTA advantage

With around 1 hour 45 minutes of the race remaining, Earl Bamber in the #2 Cadillac misjudged an overtaking manoeuvre on the Kemmel Straight while battling for third against the #99 Proton Competition Porsche and careered into the barriers. The New Zealander thankfully emerged unhurt from the wreck, as did Sean Galeal in the #31 BMW, who he had collected during the crash. V-Series.R was an on-the-spot retirement, as was the BMW.

Further extensive barrier repairs were required, and indeed took such a long period of time that the race clock ticked down almost to zero with the race still completely neutralised. However, shortly before the scheduled finishing time of 7:00 pm local time, the race director announced that the race would be restarted and the time spent under red would be added to the total race time.

The decision was met with consternation at Ferrari, whose cars were lying in first and second position but would soon require pit stops for fuel and new tyres. In prime position – having coincidentally pitted on the lap the Cadillac accident happened – were the #12 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche and the #6 Porsche, with their stint energy levels almost at 100%.

When the race restarted behind the safety car, the leading cars all peeled into the pitlane over the course of the next five laps, handing the #12 car a lead of around 1 minute. British driver Calum Ilott kept his cool and maintained his lead over the works car to secure his and teammate Will Stevens’ maiden top-class win in the FIA World Endurance Championship – to the delight of the JOTA crew in the Spa pitlane.

Manthey Racing on top in LMGT3

Manthey Racing were the main beneficiaries of yet more bad luck for the #85 Iron Dames Lamborghini and a strategic misstep by stablemates Iron Lynxy in the #60 car. The all-female crew led the race off from pole position and had a significant lead throughout, but were hampered by inopportune safety car and red flag interruptions and a delayed pit stop due to a sticking wheel nut, finishing in P5.

The win went the way of the Yasser Shahin, Morris Schuring and Richard Lietz in the #91 Manthey EMA 911 GT3.R – their first of the season, after a dramatic conclusion to the extended race.

Leading with just minutes to go was the #60 Iron Lynx Lamborghini of Claudio Schiavoni, Matteo Cressoni and Franck Perera. However, the yellow Lamborghini miscalculated its fuel consumption and was forced to pit on the last lap for a splash and dash.

This handed the advantage to the second-placed #92 Manthey PureRxing Porsche – itself in fuel-saving mode – and the hard-charging Richard Lietz in the #91 Manthey EMA 911. Lietz made the pass into Les Combes and brought the car safely home for the #91 crew’s first success of 2024.

The next race on the calendar is the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 15-16 June. For a full list of results from the 6 Hours of Spa, click here.

Race gallery

Images © Walter Schruff, Ton Kerdijk & Maksym Lobachov