GT World Challenge

2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa: Hour 3 Update

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

The second and third hours of the 2015 Total 24 Hours of Spa featured only 40 minutes of green flag running between two long safety car periods.

The chink of green flag racing between them – coming across the end of the second hour gave the teams time to perform pitstops with the lead changing hands through five drivers and teams.

With barriers repaired following Karim Ojjeh’s hefty off at Les Combes the green flag came out amid a break in the weather. Several teams took the opportunity to switch to slicks, including the leading Von Ryan Racing McLaren of Alvaro Parente, his pitstop handing the lead to Rene Rast in the #1 Audi Sport Team WRT R8 LMS.

However, almost as soon as he had returned to the track the rain returned to Spa, forcing the Portuguese back into the pits to revert back to the treaded Pirelli tyres. Rast’s later stop allowed him to avoid the folly of taking on wet tyres, though his pitstop still dropped him off the lead, Nico Bastian taking up the top spot briefly in the #99 ROWE Racing Mercedes before he too pitted giving the overall lead to the Jonny Cocker in the Pro AM Cup class Team Russia by Barwell BMW, the British driver under pressure from Christophe Bouchut in the #70 Mercedes, another car that features a Russia connection, hailing from GT Russia Team.

Both men pitted together, Maxime Martin taking the lead at the head of a 1-2 for BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS. But when both Martin and Lucas Luhr pitted together it was Maxime Soulet in the #8 Bentley Team M-Sport who took held the lead why the race fell under a Full Course Caution for the first time, limiting the field to a set speed without the addition of the safety car. They would, however, been needed only minutes later after contact between Jean-Karl Vernay in the #3 Team ART Audi and Michele Rugolo in the #53 AF Corse Ferrari left two cars heavily damaged on the exit of Courbe Paul Frere.

Vernay limped the the turquoise #3 back to the pits, the car missing a wheel and crabbing wildly. The rain also caught out Sean Walkinshaw in the MRS GT Nissan GT-R, an off into the barriers doing enough damage to end the race for the all-British driving line-up.

The combination of the clean up after the accident and the hazards of the torrential rain extended the safety car period to 40 minutes, leaving only 12 minutes of green flag running before the end of the third hour, the #1 holding the still by more than a minute, a hangover of the safety cars during the opening hour.

The Ecurie Ecosse BMW team – Alexander Sims in the car – held second overall and the lead of Pro-Am with the #99 third overall.

Second place during the third safety car of the race had been the #63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan, Mirko Bortolitti completing the rise up the order after both Lambos had started from the rear of the grid after engine changes overnight.

Team Parker Racing hold the lead in Am Cup ahead of the Ferrari of Akka ASP.

Total 24 Hours of Spa overall standings after 3 hours:
1 – #1 Audi Sport Team WRT – Rast/Vanthoor/Winkelhock
2 – #79 Ecurie Ecosse – Bryant/McCaig/Modell/Sims
3 – #99 ROWE Racing – Bastian/Dusseldorp/Juncadella
4 – #46 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS – Farfus/Martin/Werner
5 – #78 Team Russia by Barwell – Cocker/Keen/Machitski/Minshaw

Pro Cup standings after 3 hours:
1 – #1 Audi Sport Team WRT – Rast/Vanthoor/Winkelhock
2 – #99 ROWE Racing – Bastian/Dusseldorp/Juncadella
3 – #46 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS – Farfus/Martin/Werner

Pro Am Cup standings after 3 hours:
1 – #79 Ecurie Ecosse – Bryant/McCaig/Modell/Sims
2 – #78 Team Russia by Barwell – Cocker/Keen/Machitski/Minshaw
3 –  #4 Team WRT – Bottemanne/Koebolt/Nash/Schothorst

Am Cup standings after 3 hours:
1 – #24 Team Parker Racing – Loggie/MacLeod/Simonsen/Westwood
2 – #10 Akka ASP – Bourret/Belloc/Gibon/Polette
3 – #28 Delahaye Racing Team – Bouret/Chatin/Orgeval/Viron

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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