Spa: Hour 16 report

The sun has risen over the beautiful, challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit, and the surviving competitors in Proximus 24 Hours of Spa have been able to switch off their headlights. After completing sixteen hours of racing and a total of 377 laps...

The sun has risen over the beautiful, challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit, and the surviving competitors in Proximus 24 Hours of Spa have been able to switch off their headlights. After completing sixteen hours of racing and a total of 377 laps around the 6.976 km track, the nr 11 GPC Ferrari has regained its lead over the nr 2 BMS car, with the N-GT Freisinger Yukos Porsches nr 77 and nr 50 following. The second nr 1 BMS Ferrari has moved up to fifth position.

Shortly after the 12-hour mark, the race-leading nr 2 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello had a long pit stop, including changing the brake pads. This put the nr 11 GPC Giesse Squadra Corse Ferrari 575 M Maranello back into the lead, which it has kept and increased throughout the next four hours. Mika Salo put in some very fast laps in the early dawn, gradually increasing the lead over the nr 2 car.

One safety-car period around 04:00, to clear up oil from the nr 7 Saleen, was quickly followed by a second, when the nr 27 Creation Autosportif Lister Storm stopped by the side of the track. At the same time, the nr 17 JMB Racing Ferrari 575 M Maranello went into the gravel bed a marshals points 9. The nr 17 got back to its pits for repairs, and is currently lying 9th.

At 05:30, 310 laps had been completed, and 28 cars were still running. The gap between the leaders at this point was 1:22, with former Formula One driver Mika Salo in the nr 11 car pulling away from Enzo Calderari in the nr 2 BMS Ferrari.

Casualties continued to occur. The nr 88 Gruppe M Europe Porsche, which had been running well in N-GT, stopped on the track and then retired. There were trips into the gravel for the nr 32 Force One Viper, while the nr 66 was reported going slowly on the track. The nr 71 JWR Porsche spun and continued on lap 351. The EBRT Porsche, which had been lead the G2 class ahead of the sole surviving BMW M3 GTR for a while in the early morning, came to a halt in the pit-lane. The nr 115, pole position holder in the G3 class, lost oil and stopped on the track shortly before 08:00, retiring with a blown engine.

At 06:00, the conditions were sufficiently bright to allow signaling to return to flags, after lights were used overnight. There were few major changes among the leading cars, as most were sufficiently separated to be able to pit -even for minor problems – without losing position. However, the nr 10 Zwaan’s Racing Chrysler Viper, one of the success stories of this round, had a very long pit stop with problems with a hub, and lost a position to the nr 1 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 550 Maranello while the hub and all brake disks were changed. At 8 am, it was still in the pits.

There was a close fight for a while for the lead of the G2 class between the nr 186 EBRT Porsche and the nr 142 BMW M3 GTR. The 186 briefly took the lead, but then both cars fell into difficulties, the nr 142 suffering from a loose lead to the starter motor, meaning a long stop, while the nr 186 stopped on its way into the pit lane, and the team had to change a cardan joint. Still, after two thirds of the race, it was the BMW who lead the group, in position 13 overall. Meanwhile, the leading G3 car, nr 123 Mühlner Porsche of Vanina Ickx, Peter Wyss and Jean-Francois Hemroulle has risen up to 12th position in the overall classification.

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Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Mika Salo , Vanina Ickx , Enzo Calderari , Jean-François Hemroulle , Peter Wyss