The half way point of the 2014 Total 24 Hours of Spa fell with the green flag just out after the end of the seventh safety car period, the first since the brief spell of yellow that followed the unwelcome red flag shortly before the one quarter mark.
The latest safety car was for an incident that left the Oman Racing Team’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3 stranded at Blanchimont while in a – possibly separate – incident the GT Russian Team needed recovering from the pit lane entrance.
The safety car appeared shortly after Markus Palttala made his stop, giving up the leader to the Laurens Vanthoor driver #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, which Rene Rast had held in the lead before making his own stop. The half way mark fell with just three cars on the lead lap, Frank Stippler in the #3 Audi clinging onto the tail of the lead lap further up the same safety car train at the leader. While Stippler remained a distant presence in third – though he did gain on Palttala for a period – the pattern of the race where the #1 and the BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS #77 swap the lead as they work though opposing pit schedules.
The strong showing for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, holding first, third and fifth over the half way mark paid dividends for the team in the Blancpain GT Series standings with their only real rivals for the title, HTP Motorsport, having only a single car in the top ten overall. Likewise, Sainteloc Racing’s haul of points from the intermediate points will help lift them into Blancpain Endurance Series points title contention with rivals ART Grand Prix and M-Sport Bentley both suffering early one.
Andy Meyrick, did however, restore the #7 Bentley to the top ten in the Pro Cup class before the half way point of the race, running 15th overall, six laps in arrears to the race leaders.
The Scuderia Villoba Corse #90 Ferrari continues to lead the Pro-Am Cup ranks, holding a lead of over a lap ahead of Ecurie Ecosse with the similar BMW of TDS Racing in third, just a few second behind as the second and third placed teams where bunched up under the safety car period.
As aside from the dramas that led to the safety car there were minor incidents during the hours running up to the midway point.
Marc VDS were forced to retire the #66 BMW after the car hit a hare, doing significant damage to the front end of the already once repaired machine while the #19 Black Falcon Mercedes had to be retrieved from the gravel trap after an off by Abdulaziz Al Faisal.
Total 24 Hours of Spa class standings after 12 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 – #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT (Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer)
1 – #90 Scuderia Villoba Corse (Castellacci/Gai/Montermini/Rizzoli)
2 – #79 Ecurie Ecosse (Bryant/McCaig/Sims/Smith)
3 – #12 TDS Racing (Catsburg/Hassid/Klingman/Thiriet)
1 – #51 AF Corse (Guedes/Mann/Mezard/Talkanista)
2 – #42 Sport Garage (Bontempelli/Caccia/Van Hove/Vannelet)
3 – #228 Delahaye Racing (Al Azhari/Bordet/Lemeret/Viron)