The twentieth hours of the 2013 Total 24 Hours of Spa delivered something of a rarity in this year’s race – safety car periods.
Twice the race was interrupted by full course yellows. First Louis Machiels pun out of the lead battle in Pro-Am at Eau Rouge, whipping into the tyre wall half way up the hill at the start of the lap. As ever the #50 AF Corse was recovered swiftly while the driver walked away unaided and the race was able to restart. The second incident caused a longer interruption.
Ian Dockerill was trying to allow a train of cars past to his right between the Fagnes chicane and Stavelot when Enzo Ide misjudged his pass on the slower Ferrari clipping the from of the car and pushing both Dockerill and himself hard into the tyre wall to drivers’ left of the track.
With both cars heavily damaged both joined a list of retirements that encompassed half the 60+ car field, Ide dropping the #16 Phoenix Racing Audi out of sixth overall. There were also problems for the #2 Audi of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT. The team completed a long pitstop to replace brake pads and discs, losing the overall podium place they had occupied previously. Their problems continued once the car was back on the track with a spin and Les Combes which the car slowly bunny-hopped away from as the driver struggled to get the car back up to speed.
The previous pattern in the battle for the lead continued up to the time that the safety car appeared after Machiels’ crash. It was Bernd Schneider’s turn to chase down the Porsche which he did, but he went further than his teammates has done in completing a pass on track for lead lead, taking the HTP Motorsport Mercedes around the outside of the first part of Fagnes to take the lead.
The battle was complicated slightly by the safety car appearances, with the Manthey Racing car pitting under the first period, the Mercedes under the second.
The most lasting impression left by the safety car, however, was the drive through penalty given to the Manthey team after Patrick Pilet passed lapped cars before the safety car line as he was part of the pack released before Stavelot.
The penalty, and another scheduled stop increased Schneider’s lead out to two laps, but that was returned to only one when he pitted towards the end of the 21st hour, giving Maximilian Gotz the controls of the Mercedes.
After the crash for Machiels, problems in the garage for the #70 SMP Racing Ferrari and a regular pitstop for the #71 car from the same team Matt Griffin held the lead in Pro-Am Cup with three hours remaining. SMP’s #71 was second, Peter Pyzera in the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN car completing the class top three with only the duration of a single Blancpain Endurance Series remaining.
SOFREV ASP’s #20 Ferrari still leads the Gentlemens’ Trophy.
2013 Total 24 Hours of Spa class standings after 21 hours:
1 – #84 HTP Motorsport – Buhk/Gotz/Schnieder
2 – #150 Manthey Racing – Lieb/Lietz/Pilet
3 – #44 Kessel Racing – Ramos/Rigon/Zampieri
1 – #59 AF Corse – Cameron/Griffin/Mortimer/Vilander
2 – #70 SMP Racing – Bobbi/Basov/Pier Guidi/Skryabin
3 – #35 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN – Mardenborough/Pyzera/Ordonez/Reip
1 – #20 – SOFREV ASP – Beaubelique/Blanchemain/Bouvy/Gouselard
2 – #52 – Sport Garage – Gorini/Lemeret/Prignaud
3 – #111 – Kessel Racing – Andreasi/Ciro/Paladino/Perez