The team of Frank Stippler, Rene Rast and Andrea Piccini hald on to give Audi a second consecutive victory in the Total 24 Hours of Spa, extending their lead in a dramatic final hour that included the final safety car.
Lorenzo Bontempelli spectacularly crashed the #72 Ferrari at Blanchimont, backing into the tyre wall on the outside of the corner and rolling the Pro-Am Cup class car, though fortunately he was able to walk away from the accident.
The final safety car – and the final pitstops of the race taken under it decided the race to some extent. Both Stippler in the leading #16 and Stephane Ortelli in the chasing #1 Audi making their final stops. However while Stippler escaped back into the race, Ortelli was held by the red light at the end of the pitlane, leaving a comfortable gap. Furthermore for his late dive in to pits – from the same drawer as Adam Christodoulou’s costly move in the race’s early stages – Stephane Ortelli was called in for driver through penalty that put him an entire lap down.
Stippler maintained the lead though the closing stages – the three remaining works supported Audis passing under the checkered flag together, the #6 car collecting sixth overall after their early delay.
Despite crossing the line with a puncture that shredded the rear right corner of the BMW Frank Kechele hauled Vita4One Racing’s BMW across the line to take third overall. However, the most dramatic finish belonged to Jose Close and the VDS Racing Adventures Ford Mustang.
Long sidelined out of the Gentlemen Trophy race the Close was sent out for a final lap to take the checkered flag, but as the trio of Audis passed to win the race Close was reduced to physically pushing the Mustang across the line to a 38th place finish, the final one of the car’s 334 laps completed with man – not horse – power.
First Motorsport won the gentlemen trophy class in an impressive 18th overall.
After their AF Corse teammates and race rivals in the #51 car where delayed with a coolant leak a few hours early the #52 squad finished fifth overall to win Pro-AM by five laps over the Uwe Alzen led Haribo Racing Team. Last year’s class winners SOFREV – represented by a team that included Olivier Panis and Fabien Barthez – rounded out the class podium.