2011 Total 24 Hours Of Spa: Audi Complete Spa Domination

by James Broomhead

After 24 Hours of racing the Belgian Audi Club run no.33 Audi R8 LMS took a comfortable victory at the 2011 Total 24 Hours of Spa, the team of three drivers beating their nearest rival by two clear laps around the 7km Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

The final six hours of racing completed the Audi domination of the race, with the drivers Greg Franchi and DTM regulars Mattias Ekstrom and Timo Scheider running a faultess end to the race to keep their lead steady over the chasing BMW Z4 until the checkered flag.

Third overall – and in the premier Pro Cup – class went to Black Falcon in the best of the Mercedes SLS. The SLS's promotion onto the podium came at the expense of the two cars that had occupied third and fourth after 18 hours.

Fourth at that marker was the no.4 Hexis Aston Martin, however an on track clash with one of the United Autosports Audis began a troubled end to the race which included a number of calls to pits with the car trailing smoke and/or steam. The crew of Stef Dusseldorp, Fred Makowiecki and Henri Moser would eventually finish fifteenth

The no.2 Vita4One Ferrari was dramatically excluded from the race early into the 19th hour. The issue began at the end of the previous hour, when Andrea Bertolini came into the pits, handing the car over to Louis Machiels.

There the problems snowballed.

Machiels started the car while it was still raised on the jacks during the pitstop, resulting in a drive through penalty for the car. However, the Belgian, with suspected radio problems failed to heed the call from the team to take the penalty, a black flag at the start line finally getting the message across, but not before the team had been ruled out of the race for not respecting the time limit on taking the penalty.

Their retirement left the Pro-Am Cup category wide open, with the SOFREV ASP Ferrari, Preci-Spark Ferrari and DM Motorsport BMW Z4 all in the top ten fighting for class honours. The battling trio was reduced to a pair when the BMW crashed out at the Bus Stop, but the remaining Ferrari and Mercedes fought for the lead out on track, the Ferrari eventually getting the better to the SLS and taking the class, and sixth overall, by a lap over the British team.

There was further drama in the top ten for the Haribo Team Manthey. After leading in the opening hours before electrical problems the German endurance specialists had fought back into the top ten. Their race came to end with a fire in the rear of the Porsche as Richard Westbrook pulled away after a driver change. The Briton stopped the car at the pit exit at the foot of Eau Rouge, bailing out of the car while marshals tended to the car.

Ending the race one place in the overall rankings behind the Porsche was the GT4 winning RJN Motorsport Nissan 370Z of Alex Buncombe, Jordan Tresson and Christopher Hart.

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