Audi took an impressive podium sweep at the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps as their FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) rivals fell by the wayside.
It was formation flying for the Audi trio, as Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler took the victory in the #1 Audi, leading home the #2 and #3 cars to round out the top three.
Audi’s main championship rivals, Toyota, did not have such a successful day, as the race debut of its 2013-specification only managed to make it to the four-hour mark before an issue with the hybrid system led to brake issues which proved terminal for the #7 car. Despite the issue, the car showed strong pace and spent much of the first half of the race battling for the lead.
The second Toyota, the 2012-specification #8 machine, finished in fourth, ahead of the two Rebellion Racing Lolas, with the Strakka Racing machine rounding out the LMP1 finishers.
The start saw a well-behaved field make it through La Source unscathed, with the #7 Toyota making a strong get away, planting itself firmly in second place from the start.
The first half of the race saw a strong battle between the top Audi and Toyota machines, the #7 managing to keep the #2 of Loic Duval behind for an entire stint, and led the race at the halfway stage, albeit due to being in the middle of a pit stop cycle.
The LMP2 class saw a strong victory for the #49 Pecom Racing squad, taking the victory ahead of the #24 OAK Racing machine and the #38 JOTA Zytek prototype.
The Pecom squad – Luis Perez Companc, Pierre Kaffer and Nicolas Minassian – dominated the class but the result was thrown into some doubt when Kaffer suffered a puncture in the final hour. Fortunately he pitted with no real damage to the team’s ORECA-Nissan to and was able to retake the top spot when the Jota Zytek came in for a final stop just a dozen laps from the end of the race.
It was an LMP2 car which caused the only safety car period of the race, though, as Antonio Pizzonia lost control of his Delta-ADR Oreca going into Eau Rouge, spinning the car through 180 degrees and colliding with the tyre wall at speed. Pizzonia was OK, walking in to the medical car to be taken for routine checks.
In The LMGTE classes Ferrari had the measure of the rivals throughout most of the race, Gimmi Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella surviving penalties to win in LMGTE Pro with a margin of nine seconds. However closest battle of the day was fought behind them and came courtesy of Frederic Makowiecki in the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage he shared with Bruno Senna and Rob Bell. Makowicki battled hard to hold off Kamui Kobayashi‘s AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia on the final lap, finishing only one second ahead of the former Formula 1 driver.
The day for AMR was complicated by late race penalties harking back to the safety car in the first hour of the race following Pizzonia’s accident. Both the #98 and the #97, as well as the #91 Porsche were deemed to have pitted when the pitlane was closed the penalty costing Makoweicki and company a chance to take the class victory.
Finally, the GTE Am class saw a dominant display from the #81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari F458 Italia, finishing a lap ahead of the #95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 and the #50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette.