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Spa 24 Hours: Bentley leads at halfway point

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Spa 24 Hours: Bentley leads at halfway point
By:
Jul 31, 2016, 2:27 AM

Bentley has taken control of the Spa 24 Hours at the halfway point, but remains locked in combat with BMW and Audi – with Mercedes now beginning to enter the fray after its penalty at the start.

#8 Bentley Team M-Sport, Bentley Continental GT3: Andy Soucek, Wolfgang Reip, Maxime Soulet
#28 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, Audi R8 LMS: Nico Müller, René Rast, Laurens Vanthoor
#666 Barwell Motorsport, Lamborghini Huracan GT3: Phil Keen, Jon Minshaw, Joe Osborne, Oliver Gavin
#333 Rinaldi Racing, Ferrari 488 GT3: Rinat Salikhov, Pierre Ehret, Alexander Matschull, Marco Seefried
#57 Black Falcon, Mercedes-AMG GT3: Adam Christodoulou, Hubert Haupt, Andreas Simonsen
#00 AMG-Team Black Falcon, Mercedes AMG-GT3: Yelmer Buurman, Maro Engel, Bernd Schneider
#84 AMG-Team HTP Motorsport, Mercedes-AMG GT3: Dominik Baumann, Jazeman Jaafar, Maximilian Buhk
View to the paddock during the start

The M-Sport-run Bentley of Maxime Soulet, Andy Soucek and Wolfgang Reip, which twice suffered drive-through penalties in the early going, surged to the head of the field as the race moved into its 11th hour.

Soulet escaped another penalty, however, when he knocked sixth-placed Edoardo Mortara’s ISR-run Audi R8 into a spin while lapping him. Bizarrely, the leader then spun at La Source under a full-course yellow due to an oil slick just as we reached the halfway point.

Bentley is running 1-3, with the #7 car in third behind the #6 Audi.

The Rowe Racing BMW M6 of Alexander Sims, Philipp Eng and Maxime Martin, which had been in control of the race by over a minute, took its mandatory 5-minute pitstop 90 minutes before the halfway point. It has dropped to fifth, behind the GRT Grasser Lamborghini of Mirko Bortolotti.

Audi’s hopes were dealt a double blow in this quarter of the race. The #6 Phoenix Audi, which led during the pitstop cycle, suffered a time-consuming puncture. Markus Winkelhock dragged it back into the fight for the lead, however.

The #1 WRT Audi had inherited its top-three spot, but had to make an unscheduled pitstop to replace its front splitter. That dropped it outside the top 30 positions.

After Mercedes suffered a wholesale grid-drop and 5-minute penalty, the leading SLS was the #57 Black Falcon car in seventh, driven by Hubert Haupt, ahead of the HTP entries, the #86 and #84.

This quarter of the race was affected by another long safety car period in Hour 8 for barrier repairs as the #24 Bentley crashed.

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Spa 24: Rowe BMW back in the lead at 18 hours

Spa 24: Rowe BMW back in the lead at 18 hours
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