24 Hours of Spa: after six hours

27 July 2019

SMP Racing’s Ferrari lead at one-quarter distance of this year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa where rain set in just before the seventh hour began.

Mikhail Aleshin stayed out on slicks to collect maximum Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup points before immediately diving in for wet tyres, a move echoed by Christian Engelhart (Grasser Lamborghini) and Yelmer Buurman whose Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG led the first two stints from pole.

Earlier, the 488 shared by Aleshin/Rigon/Molina and WRT’s #1 Audi driven by Frijns/Muller/Rast fought a proxi-war between hours three and six thanks to strategies that diverged during four early Full Course Yellow periods. The crews repeatedly swapped places during their pitstop cycles but only met on track when Muller began to catch Aleshin as the clock ticked towards the seventh hour.

Their expected battle was cut short by rain, which prompted WRT – whose Audi isn’t in Blancpain GT Series contention – to pit immediately. Switching to wets proved the correct decision and one that subsequently elevated Rast to first overall once the rest of the front-runners stopped over the following 10 minutes.

Audi’s Intercontinental GT Challenge entries now run first and second courtesy of Sainteloc’s Frederic Vervisch, who also stopped for wets before the rain fully set in, while #IntGTC championship leader Maxi Goetz (GruppeM) lies third.

Engelhart and Buurman’s later stops dropped them to fourth and fifth ahead of Jake Dennis’ Aston Martin and Aleshin’s compromised Ferrari.

The best of the BMWs occupies eighth courtesy of Team Schnitzer’s John Edwards, Bentley’s Jordan Pepper has made his way up to 12th, Honda’s Bertrand Baguette is 16th and Nissan’s Oliver Jarvis 23rd.

Elsewhere, a slew of penalties checked Porsche’s early progress. KUS Team75 Bernhard’s Timo Bernhard is now best of the manufacturer’s Intercontinental-nominated 911s in 15th after Earl Bamber and then Laurens Vanthoor ran up front early on.