Audi Sport celebrates victory at 2017 Total 24 Hours of Spa with Audi Sport Team Saintéloc

by Vince Pettit

Audi Sport Team Saintéloc have taken their first victory at Spa-Francorchamps and on their début as a factory-backed entry for the 2017 Total 24 Hours of Spa.

The #25 Audi R8 LMS driven by Jules Gounon, Christopher Haase, and Markus Winkelhock as they stayed out of trouble for the 24 hour epic to sweep victory away with an advantage of 11.862 seconds.

The victory marks Audi’s fourth at the Belgium circuit having taken the win in 2011, 2012 and 2014; For the last two years it has been ROWE Racing in their BMW that have reached the top step of the podium.

In the closing hours of the race Raffaele Marciello led the way in the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3, but Haase set his sights on the ultimate goal and closed in on his rival, managing to pass the Italian with superior pace and a better pit strategy, leading to a maiden 24 Hours of Spa victory for Hasse and Gounon, with Winkelhock marking his second.

“Sincere congratulations to the victorious drivers and the team on this outstanding performance,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing.

“This was a particularly tough edition of the 24 Hours of Spa because, due to a very good balance of performance, the Stéphane Ratel organization and Claude Surmont managed to create a field that has been as level as hardly ever before.

“This was hard work for all the teams because no-one dominated this race. What we saw this weekend was perfect advertising for GT3 racing.”

Pre-race favourites Audi Sport Team WRT had their moment in the spotlight as they led after three hours with the #5 car of Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Dries Vanthoor, but during the night a damaged brake pad forced the team to make an unplanned stop, dropping them down the order to fourty fifth; They tried hard to recover from incident but could only get as high as eleventh place.

Nine hours in to the race it was the #2 Audi Sport Team WRT car at the front of Christopher Mies/Connor De Phillippi/Frédéric Vervisch, but bad luck and time lost during pit stops saw the car drop to fifth place for the finish. The sister #1 car of Antonio García/Nico Müller/René Rast also spent time at the front of the pack but could only manage sixth place after two sporting penalties cost them valuable time.

Audi Sport Team ISR finished the race in ninth with Pierre Kaffer/Kelvin van der Linde/Frank Stippler while three privateer drivers in #26 Audi R8 LMS from Saintéloc Racing – Fred Bouvy/Christian Kelders/Marc Rostan – achieved fourth place in the AM class with a twenty-seventh place 27 overall.

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