2016 Total 24 Hours of Spa – Hours 9-17: BMW, Bentley and Audi fight through the night

Maxime Martin in the ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 came out of the night at the Total 24 Hours of Spa in the lead of the race after a fierce battle with the #8 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 and the #6 Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS.

There was a number of incidents through the night as teams got caught out by the absolute darkness of a Spa circuit unlit as soon as teams left the Kemmel Straight and indeed, that was where the first victim fell.

That unfortunate soul was Ian Loggie in the #24 Team Parker Racing Bentley who ran on at Les Combes and hit the tyre barrier, necessitating a safety car period as hardworking circuit staff had to repair damage to the barrier.

From that point on, there was a game of pit-stop brinksmanship going on between the crew of the #99 ROWE BMW and the #8 Bentley with the cars swapping the lead each time the other went in for their stop.

However, the overnight was all about cars suffering issues, not ones enjoying themselves, and one car having issues was the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup strong team – the #58 Garage 59 McLaren of Rob Bell who lost a lot of time in the pits because of an unknown mechanical problem.

As daylight rolled in, Frank Stippler in the #6 Audi Sport Team Phoenix R8 fired a warning shot to BMW and Bentley that the four rings were not to be ignored as he led long stints of the race with an alternative pit strategy to the others.

In the Pro-Am Cup, a fierce battle started to form as the sun came up between the IMSA Performance Porsche of Patrick Pilet and the ISR Racing Audi of Nicolas Lapierre with the lead being a very cut and thrust affair – the gap only ten seconds when this mega stint came to an end.

Am Cup saw major drama as the erstwhile class leading #49 Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari 458 with Rui Aguas behind the wheel was pushed into the pits and eventual retired. That meant the lead in the class shifted to another Ferrari, the Rino Mastronardi driven #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458, with another Ferrari, the Kessel Racing machine of Liam Talbot, lying second in class.