The three hours of the 2013 Total 24 Hours of Spa up to the nine hour mark was all about duels.
At the front of the race the duel was between the #4 Marc VDS Racing BMW and the Manthey Racing Porsche (#150). As the race continues largely unabated, uninterrupted by safety cars as it has been since the second hour of the race only four cars survive on the lead lap with the #4 and #150 battling for the lead.
The other two cars on the lead lap, the #3 Marc VDS Racing car and the #84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes have each led a mere handful of laps during the previous three hours but have fallen back. At the end of the ninth hour Maxime Martin runs in third 30 seconds behind the Porsche, which in turn is ten seconds behind the leader.
The gap between the current leaders had as narrow as a second after the pair made their most recent pitstops but consistently Nicky Catsburg in the lead BMW has been able to pull away into an ever increasing lead.
The duel for the lead had been effected by another duel – that of the race against the weather. With rain promised for some point of the race showers threatened the track on several occasions, dampening one corner, or one section of the track at a time.
In the early minutes of the ninth hour one concentration of rain pushed many of the leaders – including all four on the lead lap to pit for wet tyres, Henri Moser in the #4 the last to pit, with new driver in the car Nicky Catsburg taking on wet tyres. However, as the rain moved off again all four were forced to pit to return to slick tyres, Catsburg keeping the lead but what was originally the narrowest of margins.
Another duel inside the Pro Cup class was that of Fortec Motorsports against retirement. Despite reports from earlier the team’s Mercedes SLS was not a Saturday evening retirement and returned to the pits and was returned to the race. However, suspension failure – a common complaint and cause of delay and retirement during the race – threatened to take the car from the race again but more work from the British team kept the car in the race, though heavily delayed.
Suspension damage – following contact – also dropped the #50 AF Corse Ferrari from the Pro-Am category lead, giving the lead to Peter Pyzera in the sole remaining Nissan GT Academy Team RJN entry. That entry, however, would fall back into a Pro-Am battle that consists of both of the bottom half of the top 20, the lead going to the #71 SMP Racing Ferrari with Toni Vilander holding second place in the #59 AF Corse entry.
The #20 SOFREV ASP Ferrari continues to lead in Gentlemens’ Trophy.