2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa: Hour 21 Update

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

With three hours left to run in the 2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa it is a BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS Z4 in the lead. However, rather than the #45 team led into the final quarter of the race it was their teammates in the #46 car who are edging closer to victory.

The change in fortunes happened early in the race’s 19th hour when Dirk Werner spun the #45 under braking for the Brussels hairpin, apparently after the rear axle seized. With the mechanicals beyond repair the marshals pushed the car off the circuit where Werner was forced to abandon what had been the leading car.

Werner’s decision to retire the car gave the lead over the #2 Audi Sport Team WRT entry, with Stephane Ortelli the driver who assumed the lead on the 400th lap of the race, just before making a scheduled pitstop. He returned to the track still in the lead, but with Nick Catsburg in the #46 BMW right on his tail. After a lap of following the Audi around the circuit Catsburg fashioned a way past a struggling Ortelli into La Source, taking the lead before building up a lead of 41 second in the half hour of racing before the Frenchman pitted to hand the car over to Nico Muller.

Catsburg pitted ten minutes later, with Lucas Luhr taking the car back out onto the track with a 27 second lead that he started to add to, though not quite at the same rate as Catsburg had done previously. Increasingly Muller’s attentions were being taken by the #99 ROWE Racing Mercedes, making gains on him from third place. However, before the SLS could get close enough to threaten the position the team pitted the car.

They would lose time to the lead duo as shortly after their stop the race fell under a Full Course Yellow after the Am Cup class #50 Ferrari spun on the exit of Fagnes. Muller pitted first from second place, remaining in the car and even though Luhr pitted a lap later for Markus Palttala to take over driving duties the gap between the front two had grown to over a minute.

That remained unchanged during a second Full Course Yellow, caused by Daniel Lloyd and the Oman Racing Team Aston Martin, which stopped just off the track at the Bus Stop. The British based team had threatened the podium positions in class, but their challenge ended with the #44 entry being pushed down the pitlane.

The #47 AF Corse Ferrari continues to lead the Pro-Am Cup class from fifth overall – behind the #5 Audi Sport team Phoenix entry – with two laps in hand over their stablemates in the #51 entry. Another two laps lay between them and the Ecurie Ecosse BMW.

Team Parker Racing had to fall back on some of the margin they had built during the race to absorb the time given up to serve a drive through penalty for exceeding track limits. The #10 Akka ASP Ferrari – third in the class – was also made to serve a drive through, as was the Emil Frey Racing Jaguar, the Swiss team still pounding on, though well down the Pro Am order.

Total 24 Hours of Spa overall standings after 21 hours:
1 – #46 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS – Catsburg/Luhr/Palttala
2 – #2 Audi Sport Team WRT – Muller/Ortelli/Stippler
3 – #99 ROWE Racing – Bastian/Dusseldorp/Juncadella
4 – #5 Audi Sport Team Phoenix – Mamerow/Mies/Thiim
5 – #47 AF Corse – Bruni/Lathouras/Lemeret/Pier Guidi

Pro Cup standings after 21 hours:
1 – #46 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS – Catsburg/Luhr/Palttala
2 – #2 Audi Sport team WRT – Muller/Ortelli/Stippler
3 – #99 ROWE Racing – Bastian/Dusseldorp/Juncadella

Pro Am Cup standings after 21 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 21 hours:
1 – #24 Team Parker Racing – Loggie/MacLeod/Simonsen/Westwood
2 – #10 Akka ASP – Belloc/Bourret/Gibon/Polette
3 – #111 Kessel Racing – Earle/Talbot/Rostan/Zanuttini

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