Total Spa 24 Hours: 8-Hour Update

The start of the Total Spa 24 Hours was delayed for half an hour due to barrier repairs needed after an earlier support race. Once the race got under way however, it was the #88 AKKA ASP that lead from the start with the top four remaining how they started after the first lap.

There was plenty of jostling for position in the pack with the race not really settling down. It took 7 minutes for the first track limits warning as Nelson Panciatici received a warning. After ten minutes of racing a full course yellow was called as there was a tyre blowout just after Pouhon and debris needed to be collected.

On the restart the top six at the time remained the same but on the restart the #19 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team car spun into the wall after Speaker’s Corner but was able to continue. Before the pitstops there was a three car battle between Christopher Mies, Mattia Drudi and Maro Engel developed. Engel attempted to pass Mies but went deep into the Bus Stop chicane and lost positions as Drudi later passed the Audi Sport Team WRT driver to climb into second.

The first pit stops start to happen with the average stint length looking to be between 24 and 26 laps. As the HubAuto Ferrari pitted out of sequence, it was Kamui Kobayashi who briefly led the race before coming in and returning Rafaelle Marciello to the top spot. The #66 Audi Sport Team Attempto Racing car followed in second then the #63 Orange FFF car of Dennis Lind in third.

Credit: SRO Motorsports Group

Lind eventually passed Patric Niederhauser after a multi lap battle throughout the second quarter of the hour. At the time Steven Palette was running well at the front of the AM class group.

With the #66 seeming to be lacking pace, Engel and Thomas Preining in the GPX Racing Porsche start to pressure the Audi and Engel attempts a similar move to earlier on. Unfortunately it had a similar out come with the HRT Mercedes dropping back.

As all this is going on Richard Lietz closes in on the battle for third, by the time he gets there Preining passes for third with two minutes to go in the hour.

Dennis Lind starts to rapidly close in on Marciello after being released from the #66 Audi and when they pit, Marco Mapelli takes over the car and rejoins in front of Marciello and in the effective lead of the race.

For the majority of the hour a five car train forms behind the #66 with Romain Dumas being the first car to manage to get passed the Audi. The group constantly chops and changes positions with Kevin Estre, Matt Campbell and James Calado all doing their best to put their car in an advantageous position.

A temporary FCY slows the field but on the restart Marciello starts to close in on the Mapelli Lamborghini with Kevin Estre closing in on both of them.

Near the top of the hour, Charles Weerts gets tagged causing a FCY. The resulting safety car kicks off the next round of stops. Mapelli holds the lead with Felipe Fraga now in second after taking over the AKKA machine. Michael Christiansen, Dries Vanthoor and Luca Stolz round out the top 5 on the restart.

Credit: SRO Motorsports Group

As rain starts to fall Christiansen and Vanthoor start to pressure Fraga for the rest of the hour until the next round of stops kick in. During the stops, Fraga actually loses positions to the Porsche and now Kelvin Van Der Linde. But the recovery starts relatively soon as the Porsche received a drive through for exceeding track limits. Andrea Caldarelli took the controls of the #63 Lamborghini and continued to lead from Van der Linde in the #31 Audi Sport Team WRT car. This was the state of affairs until 30 minutes from the six-hour mark, when Van der Linde was hit with a drive-through penalty for track limits abuses as well.

Shortly after this Fraga completed a pass for the lead, making quick work of traffic to slip by Caldarelli. The positions were then frozen by a full-course yellow period caused by #26 Sainteloc Racing hitting the wall at the exit of Blanchimont.

There was drama just as the clock reached six-hours when #31 Audi Sport Team WRT pulled over at Raidillon, a drivetrain issue serving to remove one of the leading contenders from the race.

The next hour was littered by FCYs as cars started dropping in the tough conditions but amongst this, Marciello lead with Earl Bamber in second and the #63 Orange FFF car now in third place at the turn of the seventh hour.

Coming to the end of hour eight, after a brief FCY, the #66 Audi of Frederic Vervisch has moved into the lead being chased by the #88 AKKA ASP car of Marciello with Lind chasing them.

In Pro-Am Chris Goodwin in the Garage 59 Aston Martin leads the way, AM sees Ratron Racing, currently with Lucas Maurondriving, at the front and Frederik Schandorff leads the Silver Cup class in the Barwell Lamborghini.

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