Endurance Racing

2012 Spa 24 Hours: Update After 9 Hours

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The Blancpain-Reiter Lamborghini was one of several cars to hit trouble (Photo Credit: Dan Bathie/l'endurance)

There were fireworks on and off the circuit as the 2012 Total 24 Hours of Spa continued.

At the head of the field, the race has boiled down into a tight three way fight between the #3 Marc VDS BMW and #1 and #16 Audis. The lead has been changing regularly over the past few hours as cars cycled through their pit stops.

As rain once again hit the circuit, Maxime Martin starred. He caught and passed the two Audis in short order, and survived a brief scare with the #9 McLaren at Pouhon to keep the BMW ahead of a fleet of Audis.

Marc VDS still have a penalty to serve – with Markus Palttala having a drive through penalty for overtaking during a red flag in qualifying. The Belgian favourites are racing tactically despite this – with the Finnish driver not yet having taken over the driving duties.  Team boss Bas Leinders has taken over from Martin and currently leads by just over twenty seconds leading the #16 Audi driven by Rene, with Stephane Ortelli in the #1 in third.

Leinders, however, survived a scare with the #59 Ferrari of Filip Salaquarda. The Czech driver nudged the rear of the lead BMW under braking for the Bus Stop, pushing Leinders into a harmless spin on the tarmacked run off area while. Meanwhile the Ferrari speared hard left into the concrete wall, spinning down the wall into retirement.

The race continues to be one of attrition, as despite the huge 66 car entry list; many leading cars have encountered problems or retired in the last few hours.

Once of the more high profile casualties was the #5 leading Pro-Am McLaren after it was hit by the similar #62 car clattered into the Nico Verdonck driven car at the first corner.

The pole sitting Vita4One Racing BMW has dropped back and currently lies sixth – but was lucky to escape damage as an errant wheel rolled across the track from the #62 car.

With two damaged cars in the firing line at La Source and debris on the track, unsurprisingly the safety car made its fourth appearance of the race. Long time leaders in the Pro-Am Cup category – the Blancpain-Reiter Lamborghini squad have fallen back after having been forced to pit with a wheel hub problem. Their unplanned stop gave Pro GT the class lead, running in eighth overall chased by two AF Corse Ferrari on the opening lap.

There were further problems down the field with the #73 Ferrari – which was for a time leading Gentlemen Trophy ground to a halt at pit in and was believed to be missing a wheel. Therefore, the safety car lead the field for the fifth time this race. The lead in that class at the end of the ninth hour was with Bull Fight Racing's Dodge Viper.

The Cup class is led by the Belgian #94 Speedlover team.

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