SPA FRANCORCHAMPS – Nick Tandy accomplished the ultimate lap with a damaged gearbox to declare Total 24 Hours of Spa and Intercontinental GT Challenge victories for Porsche alongside ROWE Racing co-drivers Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor this weekend.
The sick 911 GT3 R one way or the other made it round the 527th tour to beat Audi Sport Team Attempto Racing’s Frederic Vervisch, Patric Niederhauser and Mattia Drudi by 4.6s, whereas Matteo Cairoli’s late move on Alessandro Pier Guidi sealed third place total for Dinamic Motorsport’s Porsche.
GPX Racing’s Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet and Patrick Pilet accomplished the Intercontinental rostrum in fourth total after additionally passing AF Corse’s Ferrari late on.
Tense end, tense race
Nick Tandy was a part of the ROWE entry that completed second total behind GPX final season, however the Englishman was in a position to go one higher a yr and 92 days later by nursing his sick-sounding Porsche round the ultimate lap-and-a-half. Incredibly, the oil that flowed from its broken gearbox casing mixed with the already moist observe floor to create an unintentional slick that stored the chasing pack headed by Patric Niederhauser at bay.
It was additionally a race that ROWE first led on advantage at the begin of the ultimate hour after Audi, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Mercedes-AMG all hung out at the entrance.
Raffaele Marciello transformed pole place into an early lead however was hauled in by the rapid-starting Dennis Lind who moved Orange 1 FFF Racing’s Huracan from eighth to second throughout the first two hours.
A faster pitstop then helped Marco Mapelli soar forward of Felipe Fraga, and it was the Huracan that led for the subsequent two hours earlier than AKKA ASP’s Mercedes-AMG re-took the benefit earlier than quarter-distance. Alternative methods apart, it will stay out entrance till the eleventh hour when James Calado – whose Ferrari had maintained a presence inside the top-five since the begin – handed Fraga into Les Combes.
Damage attributable to a left-front brake failure ended AKKA’s hopes quickly after, which left Alessandro Pier Guidi and AF Corse co-driver Nicklas Nielsen out entrance till dawn when a collection of accidents and subsequent Safety Car durations introduced others again into competition.
Indeed, Audi’s detached day was about to be revived by the incidents that accounted for Dennis Lind’s victory-contending Lamborghini and Martin Tomczyk’s BMW. Both its #66 and #25 entries minimised the time misplaced of their longer, obligatory technical pitstops by stopping throughout Safety Car durations to vault into competition.
The web end result was Christopher Hasse main Mattia Drudi as the race entered its ultimate third. But subsequent pitstops, at which Winkelhock and Vervisch climbed aboard their respective Sainteloc and Attempto R8s, arrange a very entertaining hour wherein bursts of rain helped or hindered the moist and slick-shod Audis.
The pair repeatedly traded the lead whereas being caught by AF Corse and SMP’s Ferraris till Vervisch’s choice to match wets left Attempto 1m25s clear when the intermittent localised drizzle turned to circuit-wide rain.
However, his hard-earned benefit was quickly eroded by one other Full Course Yellow and Safety Car interval that allowed the chasing pack, which additionally included ROWE’s #98 Porsche and HRT’s Mercedes-AMG, to negate the time misplaced making one other pitstop. Further warning durations thereafter continued to jumble the top-six as groups timed their stops to re-set stint lengths and play with methods as the ultimate hour approached.
Rain got here to play
The rain that set in at round lunchtime had allowed ROWE’s Porsche to change into a critical contender in the fingers of Tandy who reeled in and handed each manufacturing facility Ferraris earlier than setting his sights on the Audis. Time saved altering simply two tyres at the third-from final cease, solely refuelling at the penultimate go to, and Tandy driving via to re-set his stint size as the race ticked into its ultimate 65 minutes left the Porsche out entrance when it mattered.
38 minutes remained when the Safety Car withdrew for the ultimate time. Niederhauser, who’d taken over from Vervisch, did nicely to follow Tandy initially and even obtained inside two seconds at one stage earlier than the Porsche reasserted its authority.
From there victory appeared assured. But with lower than two laps remaining onboard footage prompt issues have been removed from nicely with the 911, which had developed a definite grinding sound.
“Halfway through the penultimate lap I had a small lock-up into Turn 8, and when I exited the corner, I heard this loud knocking noise,” mentioned Tandy. “I thought a driveshaft joining had broken, but the car was still running. Apparently, the gearbox casing was broken as well, and unfortunately for our competitors, we coated the track with oil. We can only apologise for this, but it kind of saved us.
“I had to drive the last lap and a half without pushing, and I had to coast through the corners in order not to cause more damage. But in the end, to win this with [Vanthoor and Bamber], it is an incredible feeling. And to be able to share this with all the team at ROWE… they have been so good this week, and I’m so happy that they could win Spa and Nürburgring in the same year.”
Tough day for all
Track circumstances made it inconceivable for Niederhauser or anybody else to reap the benefits of the ailing Porsche. Instead, the Swiss got here house 28s forward of Cairoli, Sven Mueller and Christian Engelhart whose Dinamic Porsche, which wasn’t nominated to rating Intercontinental factors, loved a trouble-free run to third total.
GPX’s #12 911 remained a top-six contender all through and duly collected factors for third in Intercontinental, in addition to fourth place total forward of AF Corse’s Ferrari that includes Calado, Pier Guidi and Nicklas Nielsen. The 488 spent most of the early hours out entrance earlier than slipping again in the direction of the end.
The Sainteloc Audi that led with six hours remaining would possible have completed on the podium with out the afternoon’s rain and Safety Car durations. Instead, Marcus Winkelhock, Dorian Boccolacci and Christopher Haase banked stable Intercontinental factors in sixth total after ending forward of HRT’s Mercedes-AMG shared by Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Vince Abril.
Frikadelli Racing ensured three automobiles – the most quantity permitted – scored Intercontinental factors for Porsche, whereas Team Honda Racing and Bentley additionally featured in the total top-10 after a topsy-turvy 24 hours wherein every had the tempo to end inside the top-six.
Following the highs of Indianapolis, erstwhile championship leaders BMW endured a difficult Total 24 Hours of Spa the place neither of Walkenhorst’s Pro entries completed.
The end result has helped Porsche flip a 10-point deficit right into a 29-point Manufacturers’ Championship lead over Mercedes-AMG, whereas race winners Bamber and Vanthoor prime the Drivers’ standings by one level from Porsche manufacturing facility colleagues Campbell, Jaminet and Pilet.
The Kyalami 9 Hour hosts this season’s Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli championship showdown on December 10-12.