2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa: Hour 18 Update

by James Broomhead
2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa (Credit: Tom Loomes Photography)

With ‘only’ six hours of the 2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa remaining the BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS’ #45 car has a comfortable lead of over 50 seconds over their nearest challengers, but the team had to survive a scare before they could take the top spot.

8am local time brought the return of live pictures to the coverage of the race, and with it – coincidentally or not – came a raft of warning and penalties for a range of offences including track limits abuses and passing under yellows. At the time the #45, with Augusto Farfus behing the wheel, was second overall and trying to chase down the #2 Audi Sport Team WRT R8 LMS that had been able to establish a lead.

However, any charge from the BMW was put on hold when the team were given a drive through penalty having been adjudged to have overtaken behind yellow flags. The team protested – publically and privately – as Farfus continued to lap unperturbed and half an hour after it was announced the penalty was quietly withdrawn.

The team’s appeal proved crucial as second place had become the lead in the 30 minutes between issue and repeal. Their move into the lead came after Nico Mueller brought the #2 in for a routine stop.

Slightly less routine was the #45’s next pit visit as Bas Leinders’ squad chose to make use of a Full Course Yellow, with Farfus staying in the car. The decision took them out of sync with the #99 ROWE Racing Mercedes, which pitted from third place ten minutes later.

The #99 reach the six-to-go point in fourth place, the #46 Marc VDS BMW in third place with Nick Catsburg trying to make up the ground to catch the Audi in second place. His job was made a little easier by a pitstop by the #2 crew that was slowed by a stubborn right rear wheel that wouldn not part company with the hub cleanly, the mechanic resorting to a couple of kicks that seemed to complete the job.

The car, though, remained in second place, the Audi between the two Marc VDS BMWs. Behind the #99 Mercedes the #5 Audi Sport Team Phoenix completed the top five – comprised entirely of Prro Cup cars.

The AF Corse dominance of the Pro-AM ranks continues with the #47 and #51 holding their long established spots, first and second in class. Third in the class, as it was at the end of 15 hours, was the Ecurie Ecosse BMW.

Two cars that had previosly been front runners in the class were taken out of competitive roles by incidents however. Lewis Plato crashed the #71 GT Russian Team at the Stavelot end of the circuit, taking out the Mercedes that had run fourth in class just minutes earlier. The #12 TDS Racing BMW also has problems, Mathias Beche limping the car around the majority of a lap with a right rear puncture and suspension damage. Impressively he reached the pitlane without the tyre coming apart, though he only succeeded in bringing the car back for the team to spin him back into the garage.

Team Parker Racing, in 19th overall, continue to lead the Am Cup class with three laps in hand over  Attempto Racing’s Porsche.

Total 24 Hours of Spa overall standings after 18 hours:
1 – #45 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS – Farfus/Martin/Werner
2 – #2 Audi Sport Team WRT – Muller/Ortelli/Stippler
3 – #46 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS – Catsburg/Luhr/Palttala
4 – #99 ROWE Racing – Bastian/Dusseldorp/Juncadella
5 – #5 Audi Sport Team Phoenix – Mamerow/Mies/Thiim

Pro Cup standings after 18 hours:
1 – #45 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS – Farfus/Martin/Werner
2 – #2 Audi Sport Team WRT – Muller/Ortelli/Stippler
3 – #46 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS – Catsburg/Luhr/Palttala

Pro Am Cup standings after 18 hours:
1 – #47 AF Corse – Bruni/Lathouras/Lemeret/Pier Guidi
2 – #51 AF Corse – Cameron/Griffin/Guedes/Rigon
3 – #79 Ecurie Ecosse – Bryant/McCaig/Modell/Sims

Am Cup standings after 18 hours:
1 – #24 Team Parker Racing – Loggie/MacLeod/Simonsen/Westwood
2 – #56 Attempto Racing – Haring/Konstantinou/Schmickler/Wlazik
3 – #111 Kessel Racing – Earle//Talbot/Rostan/Zanuttini

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