After six hours of racing, rain and safety cars continue to play a significant role in the 2003 edition of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. The safety car, deployed following an accident between the nr 107 Morgan and the nr 51 Freisinger Porsche, ...
After six hours of racing, rain and safety cars continue to play a significant role in the 2003 edition of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. The safety car, deployed following an accident between the nr 107 Morgan and the nr 51 Freisinger Porsche, shortly after 19:00, finally switched its lights off at 19:21, allowing racing to get underway again at the end of lap 58. At that point, the nr 50 Freisinger Porsche led the race overall, as well as the N-GT class, and continued to lead throughout the following three hours, completing 107 laps by the time the race reached the six-hour point. With six hours completed, the GT class was led by the nr 9 JMB Racing Ferrari 550 Maranello, lying second overall, while the nr 23 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello, victorious in the first five races this season, was immobilised in its garage with engine problems.
Rain continued to fall in varying intensity throughout the three-hour period, allowing the Freisinger Porsche to maintain its position ahead of the more powerful GT machinery. Nevertheless, in this extremely closely contested category, it was the N-GT class lead that was uppermost in the minds of the leaders. "We will try to keep the pace up and increase the gap to the Ferraris whilst we have the advantage of the rain" explained Marc Lieb.
During much of the time whilst the rain was at its heaviest, the Porsche maintained a cushion of around 25 seconds over second place. When the rain slowed for a time, this gap was reduced. Further heavy rain just after 21:00 brought out the safety car yet again, nine laps passing before the green flag was waved. Also at this time, an accident on the F1 straight took the nr 16 Wieth Ferrari 550 Maranello out of the race.
Second place saw a battle between the nr 1 Larbre Viper and nr 14 Lister Storm. However, the Lister rolled out of the race and into retirement just after 21:00, fortunately without injury to driver Jamie Campbell-Walter. Second place thus became the property of nr 9 JMB Ferrari 550 Maranello, with nr 1 Viper in third place after six hours, the last car on the lead lap.
The rain caused many problems, not the least of them due to visibility concerns. Cars misting up and broken windscreen wipers caused several unscheduled stops, including for the nr 11 Roos-Optima Chrysler Viper and the nr 6 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm. The nr 24 Belmondo Viper and 88 TMC Ferrari both suffered headlight failure, the latter stopping out on the circuit with Kelvin Burt at the wheel. The nr 52 JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena, of Terrien, Pescatori and Bertolini, which had been running strongly, stopped with alternator problems. However, the nr 57 MENX Ferrari 360 Modena was running in a fine third place in the class, with F3000 driver Yannick Schroeder in particular putting in an excellent performance in the heavy rain.
After six hours of racing, the first points were allocated. In the N-GT class, the nr 50 Freisinger Motorsport drivers took 5 points, with the nr 61 EMKA Racing Porsche awarded 4, and the nr 57 MENX Ferrari taking the 3 points for third. In the Championship, these points put Ortelli and Lieb into the lead in the Drivers classification ahead of Mullen and Davies, while their team, Freisinger, increased its lead in the Teams points. In GT, JMB Racing took its first points in the class, while Larbre took the most points, with cars in second and fourth places. BMS increased its points lead with third place for the nr 22 car of Gollin, Cappellari, Bryner and Calderari, while Bobbi and Biagi are unassailable in the lead of the Drivers Classification, even if they score no points here today.