The driving combination of Rene Rast, Markus Winkelhock and Laurens Vanthoor gave Audi a third 24 Hour race win in just over two months, and gave Belgian Audi Club Team WRT victory in a Belgian battle at the 2014 Total 24 Hours of Spa.
The trio won out after a duel with the team of Dirk Werner, Markus Palttala and Lucas Luhr, sharing the #77 for BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS.
The closing hours were given a twist when the #1 was pushed back into the garage for a second brake disc and pad change. However, the Team WRT crew were typically faultless, returning the car to the track after a delay of only around half a minute.
It did though, prove enough for Werner to retake the lead in BMW, leaving the pitlane the following lap as the Audi negotiated a wad of traffic on the run from La Source to Eau Rouge. Once free of the traffic though the battle for the lead reprised the display from earlier in the race. Rast in the Audi was able to power up to the rear of the BMW, the #77 struggling with an ABS problem, before simply driving by to take the lead before starting to pull his lead out towards ten seconds as the final hour began.
Werner was given the lead back with 40 minutes remaining when Rast made his final planned pitstop. Again, the BMW man made his own stop the following lap, but the Bas Leinders led team made a brave strategy call, double stinting the tyres to give Werner the lead and, arguably, the team the best chance of snatching victory.
The stage was set for the final play of the race Rast trailing by 21 seconds.
Rast needed only 20 of the 38 minutes left on the clock to catch the BMW, but unlike previous moves Werner went defensive when the Audi man attacked at Les Combes. He kept him behind, forcing to the outside of both the Rivage hairpin and Pouhon. However, the BMW’s older tyres and braking issues proved too much and when Werner went deep into the Bus Stop on the end of lap 520 it allowed Rast the better run to La Source, and as Werner resolutely defended the inside line Rast used a wider to get the cut back to the inside, his ability to transmit power to track more efficiently putting him into the lead.
Werner cross the line, officially, seven seconds behind after a completing 527 laps, one more than the #3 Team WRT Audi that completed the podium. Sainteloc Racing’s #26 and HTP Motorsport’s #86 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 completed the top five
The quartet of Neik Hommerson, Louis Machiels, Marco Cioci and Andrea Bertolini finished sixth overall, winning the Pro-Am Cup class in the process. 31 seconds behind at the end of the race was Alexander Sims in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW, the British team leaning on the BMW works driver in the closing stints to try to prize the class win from the four in AF Corse’s #51 entry.
The class podium was completed by the #52 AF Corse entry, Craig Lowndes anchoring the team home in eighth overall.
The #84 Mercedes of HTP Motorsport and Pro-Am squad MP Motorsport AMR completed the overall top ten.
The #51 AF Corse team of Peter Mann, Alexander Talkanitsa, Francisco Guedes and Cedric Mezard completed what had become a domination the Gentlemen Trophy class, winning by four laps over the Team Parker Racing team of Ian Loggie, Julian Westwood, Carl Rosenbald and Leo Machitski.
Total 24 Hours of Spa class standings after 24 hours:
1 – #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT (Rast/Vanthoor/Winkelhock)
2 – #77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS (Luhr/Palttala/Werner)
3- #3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT (Mies/Nash/Stippler)
4 – #26 Sainteloc Racing (Guilvert/Ortelli/Sandstrom)
5 – #86 HTP Motorsport (Buhk/Gotz/Jaafar)
1 – #53 AF Corse – (Bertolini/Cioci/Hommerson/Machiels)
2 – #79 Ecurie Ecosse – (Bryant/McCaig/Sims/Smith)
3 – #52 AF Corse – (Lowndes/Piccini/Rugolo/Wyatt)
1 – #51 AF Corse (Guedes/Mann/Mezard/Talkanista)
2 – #22 Team Parker Racing (Loggie/Matschiski/Rosenblad/Westwood)
3 – #49 AF Corse (Bachelier/Blank/Mallegol/Perrodo)