Nick Tandy took the chequered flag at the Total Spa 24 Hours in a wounded #98 ROWE Racing Porsche after a fine display with his fellow teammates; Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber.
The Total 24 Hours of Spa entered its final part with a clear winner yet to emerge. Audi Sport Team Sainteloc led the way at three-quarter distance with Christopher Haase at the wheel of its #25 machine, they stopped under safety car conditions and managed to leap-frog the #66 Audi Sport Team Attempto Racing car. James Calado ran third in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari, followed by the #12 GPX Racing Porsche and the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari.
One of the big talking points of the race will be when with 16 hours and 40 minutes complete, the leading #63 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini spun into the barriers at Raidillon whilst being driven by Dennis Lind. He managed to remove the car and work on getting back to the pits but the damage was to severe an it forced him to pull off for good at Bruxelles.
Another big hit caused a safety car just before the 17-hour mark when the #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin spun at Raidillon. Chris Goodwin managed to recover and get going without hitting anything, but the #991 Herberth Motorsport Porsche crashed heavily behind trying to take avoiding action. The Silver Class leading #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini failed to get through the stricken Porsche and was also eliminated. Shortly after the restart the #52 AF Corse Ferrari had a heavy crash that added it to the list of retirements. All drivers were able to walk away from this set of incidents.
Sky Tempesta Racing led Pro-Am at three-quarter distance, its #93 Ferrari running ahead of the #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin, which was in the hands of a charging Maxime Martin following Goodwin’s spin. The #77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini sat third, a lap down on the class leaders.
The departure of the #78 Barwell car gave the #5 HRT Mercedes-AMG breathing space in the Silver Cup battle. The lead swapped between these cars for several hours, but the HRT machine held a one-lap lead over the #84 HTP Mercedes-AMG shortly before 09.00
Just one car remains in the Am Cup after a crash at Raidillon eliminated the #129 Raton Racing Lamborghini, which means the #108 CMR Bentley needs only keep running to capture class honours. The race went green once again at three-quarter distance, setting up a six-hour dash for Total 24 Hours of Spa glory.
With four hours left on the clock and with light rain falling, the slick-shod #25 Team Sainteloc car had just taken the lead from the #66 Team Attempto, which was running on wet Pirelli rubber although it was soon reversed as the rain came down a lot harder and consistently.
The #51 AF Corse machine ran third having surrendered top spot at the previous round of stops. Like the leader, it was running on slicks but along with the #25 Audi, it proved to be the wrong choice as they both eventually had to pit leaving the #66 Attempto car with a hugely commanding lead over their rivals.
The #93 Sky Tempesta Ferrari remained at the head of the Pro-Am order, while the #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin was still on the same lap. The #5 HRT Mercedes-AMG held a clear advantage in the Silver Cup classification, while the #108 CMR Bentley continued to circulate as the Am Cup leader.
With three hours to go a full course yellow was called as the #33 Audi Sport Team WRT car hit the wall. This was then allowing cars to pit to makes sure they were on the right strategy to get the cars to the end of the race.
After a lengthy delay for barrier repair, the safety car released the field with Dorian Boccolacci leading Frederic Vervisch followed by James Calado and Sergey Sirotkin. Soon after Nick Tandy in the ROWE Racing Porsche passes the SMP Ferrari of Sirotkin and immediately starts to make in roads to the third place runner of Calado.
Patrick Pilet then starts to have a go at the struggling Russian but tags the Ferrari into Speaker’s corner sending it into the outside tyre barrier. The accident spawned another full course yellow but once it ended, Maro Engel starts to come under pressure from Pilet who was trying to recover the positions that were lost.
Come the what at the time seemed to be the penultimate stops, Nick Tandy gets by Alessandro Pier Guidi (taking over from Calado) and starts to look ahead and catch the two Audi runners ahead of him. As Tandy gets onto the back of Boccolacci a FCY is called as the #163 Emil Frey Lamborghini hits the wall at Blanchimont. The lengthy caution means the lead Attempto Audi pits as does Nick Tandy. The Attempto machine takes new tyres however and falls behind the Porsche but both are temporarily behind Boccolacci. The Sainteloc squad were waiting for the 65 minute mark to arrive so they would not have to pit again but just before the restart, Tandy and Patric Niederhauser drive through the pit lane to reset their stint length and come out in first and second.
On the restart Tandy gets away for Patric as he gets held behind the GPX Racing Porsche of Louis Deletraz who was a lap down. Pier Guidi manages to force his way passed Matteo Cairoli who had silently put his #54 Dinamic Motorsport into third for the restart. Niederhauser didn’t have to wait too long to close in on the ROWE Porsche as another FCY was shown as the beautiful Boutsen Ginion BMW art car ended up in the gravel at Les Fagnes.
Initially on the restart positions didn’t change among the top runners but then Mattieu Jaminet got a run on Boccolacci to move up another position, the Porsche coping with the wet weather conditions very well. With twenty minutes to go Cairoli and Pier Guidi resume their battle for the final spot on the podium and it went the way of the Porsche after a fantastic move in Eau Rouge. The two drivers doing really well to keep it clean going side by side in such a daunting corner in the wet weather.
Jaminet also overtakes the AF Corse machine near the end of the race to finish fourth.
It was a wet masterclass by Nick Tandy however. The Porsche driver taking victory by two seconds over Niederhauser despite a late scare where the car developed a possible issue with two minutes to go. Porsche enjoyed a really strong finish with Cairoli taking third and Jaminet fourth. Pier Guidi hung on to fifth and Boccolacci brought the Sainteloc Audi home in sixth.
In Pro-Am, Sandy Mitchell brought home the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini that he shares with Leo Machitski, Ricky Collard and Rob Collard in the lead taking a brilliant class victory. The #93 SKY Tempesta Racing followed home in second place with the #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin in third.
The AM Cup went the way of the #108 CMR Bentley piloted by Clement Mateu, Romano Ricci, Stephane Tribaudini and Stephane Lemeret. Hubert Haupt brought home the class victory in the Silver Cup for the #5 HRT Mercedes. Haupt shared the car with Gabriele Piana, Michele Beretta and Sergey Afanasiev.