2016 Total 24 Hours of Spa – Hours 5-8: Fireworks off and on track


The ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 of Alexander Sims, Philipp Eng and Maxime Martin led the field as the mega field of GT cars completed another four hours of the 2016 edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa without much incident.

That said at the start of the fifth hour, Am Cup leader Derek Pierce hit the tyre barrier at Les Combes in his Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3. He reported that the car snapped on him and he skimmed along the barrier causing notable damage to the front-right of the car, thankfully he got it going again and the mechanics worked hard to get the bodywork replaced.

As if it couldn’t get any worse for the team, the Tom Onslow-Cole driven Pro-Am Bentley stopped at the bottom of Eau Rouge with gearbox issues. The team managed to get a reprieve as the car appeared to get going again and got back to the pits for an inspection by the team’s mechanics.

Also suffering problems in the Pro-Am Cup was Karim Ojjeh in the Boutsen Ginion BMW M6 GT3 who suffered a puncture on the car’s left-rear wheel – he managed to limp it round to the pits from Bruxelles with no extra damage sustained, but he lost a hell of a lot of places.

Roughly an hour later, with 18hours and 44minutes remaining, it was another BMW experiencing issues as the BMW Team Italia car hit the barrier at the top of Raidillon and a safety car was called for to recover the car.

Twenty minutes later the safety car came back in but Jonathan Hirschi in the #114 Emil Frey Racing Jaguar XKR will have wished it didn’t as he got caught in a tangle with Rene Rast’s #28 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS who was running wide at Campus with a rear-left puncture. It was a genuine racing accident in the darkness of the night, but both suffered lengthy spells in the garage fixing various bits of damage on both cars.

 

As the eighth hour got underway, it seemed the race had settled in for the night somewhat as Alexander Sims kept knocking in quick laps in the ROWE Racing car at the front of the race and Steven Kane found himself slipping away ever so slightly in the #7 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3, with the lead extending to over 15 seconds at points.

Notably this four-hour block saw the Mercedes AMG runners start to come back from their five minute penalties in the opening hour of the race as Dominik Baumann in the AMG-Team HTP Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 climbed up from near enough dead last to get into tenth place.

Towards the end of hour 8, drivers out on track were allowed to take a quick breather as a full course yellow was enforced because of the #24 Team Parker Bentley, being driven at that point by Ian Loggie, in the tyre wall up at Les Combes that required recovery by circuit staff.

That meant the classification didn’t really change much as the clocks reached 00.30am. In the Pro-Am Cup it seemed as though the leader was the only car that didn’t have issues around the 7km Spa circuit and that honour went to Matt Griffin in the #52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 who managed to keep a Pro Cup car between himself and Louis Machiels in the #100 Attempto Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 which was in second for the latter part of this four hour stint.

In the Am Cup, no one had a response to the Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari 458 being driven by Alexander Moiseev which seemed to avoid the penalties being dished out to the #888 Kessel Racing Ferrari for track limit breaches.

The next report from The Checkered Flag will be in the morning with a round-up of all the action as the dead of night at Spa rolls into Sunday morning.