2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa: Hour 1 Update

by James Broomhead
2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa (Credit: Vision Sport Agency)

The first hour of the 2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa ended under safety car conditions after the second crash of the hour approaching the chicane at Les Combes.

The accident, which occurred 13 minutes before the close of the hour was the larger of the two offs both of which prompted interventions from the two safety cars stationed around the 7km Spa-Francorchamps track.

Earlier in the race Gilles Duqueine had spun his team’s AM Cup Ferrari into the barriers under braking for the right hander at the end of the Kemmel Straight. The disabled driver was unhurt in the accident, but the #90 entry was not the nose first impact into the barriers heavily damaging the radiators concealed within the front of the 458 Italia.

The recovery of the stricken car required a 20 minute safety car, the locations of the SC deployment splitting the front runners, placing more than a minute’s gap between the cars in third and fourth places.

The race had started amid the persistent rain that had been falling throughout much of the day leading up to the race and as pole sitter Frank Stippler cautiously approach Eau Rouge on the outside of fellow front row starter Kevin Estre the McLaren driver powered through into the lead, taking Alvaro Parente in the sister Von Ryan Racing car into second behind him.

The two McLarens pulled away, leaving Stippler to fight with Rene Rast over third and fourth, Rast pushing Stippler a further position back from his hard won starting spot.

It was into the gap between the two R8 LMS that the safety car inserted itself, cleaving the fight apart.

The cavernous gap had no time to close following the reappearance of the green flag as Karim Ojjeh crashed the Boutsen Ginion #15 BMW into the same section of barrier. His impact, however, threw the car into the car. Happily the driver was again unhurt and walked away from the wrecked car.

The safety car came out at an opportune time with both Estre and Rast taking to the pitlane letting Parente take the lead after he had  – only minutes later – been demoted to third as Rast ranged up the outside of the 650S GT3 under braking for the Bus Stop chicane.

Stippler, still stuck in the ‘second’ safety car train also pitted as did Andrea Piccini in the Kessel Racing Ferrari that had led the Pro-Am Cup class since the drop of the green flag.

Those who did not pit under what is sure to be a lengthy safety car – the Armco needing repairs – were shuffled to the top of the order, with Parente – by combination of pit strategy and safety car timing having a lap’s lead over the two Bentley Team M-Sport cars, Maxime Soulet’s #8 ahead of Guy Smith’s #7.

After Piccini’s stop, as well as Bernd Schneider’s pittinf the #18 Black Falcon Mercedes the Pro-Am lead went to the #47 AF Corse Ferrari started by Alessandro Pier Guidi, the Italian holding fifth overall. The #52 – another of the AF Corse run 458’s in the class  – went off early in the hands of Toni Vilander, the Finn losing the brakes in his yellow machine on the approach to the Brussels hairpin, coming to rest in the gravel. Unlike those who go off at Les Combes there was no additional damage to the car and he continued, only to pit for the team to tend to the issue in the pits.

Sport Garage’s #42 Ferrari held the Am Cup lead, the class polesitter’s Team Parker Racing ending the first 60 minutes third in class with Benny Simonsen taking the first stint in the car.

Total 24 Hours of Spa overall standings after 1 hour:
1 – #59 Von Ryan Racing – Parente/Quaife-Hobbs/Senna
2 – #8 Bentley Team M-Sport – Buhk/Soucek/Soulet
3 – #7 Bentley Team M-Sport – Kane/Meyrick/Smith
4 – #9 ROAL Motorsport – Glock/Spengler/Zanardi
5 – #47 AF Corse – Bruni/Lathouras/Lemeret/Pier Guidi

Pro Cup standings after 1 hour:
1 – #59 Von Ryan Racing – Parente/Quaife-Hobbs/Senna
2 – #8 Bentley Team M-Sport – Buhk/Soucek/Soulet
3 – #7 Bentley Team M-Sport – Kane/Meyrick/Smith

Pro-Am Cup standings after 1 hour:
1 – #47 AF Corse – Bruni/Lathouras/Lemeret/Pier Guidi
2 – #44 Oman Racing Team – Adam/Al Harthy/Lloyd/Venter
3 – #32 Leonard Motorsport AMR – Leonard/Meadows/Mucke/Onslow-Cole

Am Cup standings after 1 hour:
1 – Sport Garage  – Beroujon/Corten/Guillot/Samon
2 – Akka ASP – Belloc/Bourret/Gibon/Polette
3 – Team Parker Racing – Loggie/MacLeod/Simonsen/Westwood

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