2012 Spa 24 Hours: Update After 3 Hours

Marc VDS led Vita4One before the rain fell (Photo Credit: Jake Yorath/l'endurance)

Marc VDS Racing lead the Total 24 Hours of Spa after the opening three hours, Bad Leinders currently circulating behind the safety car after due to very heavy rain which began at the start of the third hour and remained out until the very final minutes of the hour.

Stephane Ortelli runs second in the #1 Audi Sport Team Phoenix R8 LMS ultra, Rene Rast third in another Audi, but run by Team Phoenix. Christian Menzel in the Haribo liveried Porsche lead Pro-Am Cup, chased by Edouard Mondon's Boutsen Ginion McLaren.

From the start of the race Maxime Martin took the lead from polesitter Frank Kechele, the two BMWs running side by side up Eau Rouge after taking the start, Martin swooping ahead onto the Kemmel Straight.

The two BMWs had the pace of everyone pulling out a lead over Alvaro Parente, who led the Pro-Am category for the opening stint. The Portuguese in the #88 Von Ryan McLaren would sacrifice  the Pro-Am lead to Eric van de Poele in Boutsen Ginion's MP4-12C.

The Belgian was part of a titanic scrap in the midst of the top ten with Uwe Alzen in the Haribo Porsche, Edward Sandstrom's #2 Team WRT Audi and Stephane Lemeret in the Pro Class DB Motorsport car, Sandstrom completing the best move of the battle as he and Lemeret went side by side through Eau Rouge, the Audi driver emerging ahead.

There were several small spins and collisions in the opening hours, but the most serious was between Adam Christodoulou in the Lapidus Racing McLaren and Andre Lotterer's team Phoenix Audi. The Briton moved across late to pit, but was caught by Lotterer, who had pulled alongside through the Bus Stop chicane.

Christodoulou was spat into the barriers, Lotterer collecting front left suspension damage causing significant delay to both cars. There was to be further punishment for Lapidus and Christodoulou especially as he was deemed to be at fault and was excluded from the race.

Despite running second for most of the opening two hours and early stop for Kechele – compared to the other front runners – coupled with the arrival of rain conspired to drop the #66 off the lead lap.

The rain, as widely predicted arrived shortly after 6pm local time, turning La Source into a treacherous skid pan. Julien Draper skated into the tyre wall, while behind him other span left right and centre, though fortunately all were able to continue. Not so lucky with Canadian driver Andrew Danyliw who span the #37 DB Motorsport BMW into the pitwall, causing enough damage to the front of his Z4 to put them out of the race.

So heavy was the rain – especially around the pit area – that the safety car was called out, collecting Bas Leinders who took over from Martin in the leading Marc VDS BMW.