It turned out to be a highly dramatic FIA World Endurance Championship race at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium.
Already in the practice and qualifying there were signs of a very close weekend in all classes. In LMP1 it appeared that Porsche had a bit more pace than the competitors. The 2 Porsches qualified 1-2 followed by #Audi #8, Toyota #6, Audi #7 and Toyota #5. But the race was 6 hours and that should quickly get some of the cars into troubles.
Short time into the race the championship leading Porsche number 2 got some hybrid problems, that wouldn’t fully be solved for the rest of the race. The team managed to just lose a few seconds per lap to the very fastest in the class.
Porsche number 1 was soon to hit troubles as well. 2 punctures within a few laps put that out of contention. Until that point, Toyota number 5 had been pushing them for the lead and even been in the lead already.
When hour 2 of the race was done, Toyota 5 with Anthony Davidson, Sebastian Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima were the leaders by just over 30 seconds to Audi 8 with Lucas De Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval behind the wheel.
This lead would last until the penultimate hour of the race, where Toyota got engine troubles and had to take the car back to the pits. The car finished the very final lap of the race, to do a lap on pure Electric power, since the combustion engine couldn’t be started Again.
Audi number 8 had temperature issues through most of the race, so they couldn’t go flat out through the race either. Still they managed to capture the victory with 2 laps ahead of the sick Porsche number 2 and with Rebellion Racing with Dominik Kraihamer, Alexandre Imperatori and Matheo Tuscher in 3rd place.
So this was the second race in a row where Rebellion Racing was on the podium. Actually they are 2nd in the LMP1 drivers championship only beaten by Porsche number 2.
In the LMP1 Privateers championship, Rebellion Racing 13 won ahead of Rebellion Racing 12 and ByKolles Racing Team 4.
LMP2 saw nothing decided until the final lap. Signature Alpine #36 won the race ahead of Extreme Speed Motorsport #31 and Manor #45. 10 minutes before the finish flag was waved, #36 overtakes #31 for the lead and on the final lap #45 passes RGR Sport by Morand with a robust manouvre at the La Sourche hairpin. The lead in the championship is shared by the #43 with Felipe Alberquerque, Bruno Senna and Ricardo Gonzalez with #36 with Gustavo Menzeres, Nicolas Lapierre and Stefano Richelmi. Number 31 ESM is just 1 point behind them with Chris Cumming, Ryan Dalziel and Pipo Derani.
AF Corse appeared to have everything under control in GTE Pro. Throughout the race the team had been 1-2 but with 20 minutes left of the race, the leading #51 driven by Gimmi Bruni and James Calado entered the pit with smoke and steam pouring from the rear of the car, and was not to return Again, and therefore not classified.
Instead the Victory went to the sister car with number 71 piloted by Davide Rigon and Sam Bird. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing number 67 finished 2nd while Aston Martin Racing 97 finished 3rd. There was a lot of drama in this class. After around 1½ hours Aston Martin Racing #95 driving by Nicki Thiim was hit by G-Drive Racing #38. The GTE Pro car went into a slide and hit a tyre barrier that flip the car over on the roof and back onto it Wheels. Thiim thankfully could walk away from the car, but had to retire on the spot. Number 38 got a 2 minutes stop-and-go penalty for the incident.
With just over 1 hour left of the race, Stefen Mücke in Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #66 send shockwaves through the paddock when he crashed heavily at Eau Rouge at top speed. The rear tyre exploded and send him hard into the tyre wall with the car being totally destroyed. Even when it looked back, thankfully nothing but a few bruises happened to him.
The GTE Pro championship is lead by Davide Rigon and Sam Bird while Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell and Marino Franchitti is second ahead of Gimmi Bruni and James Calado.
In GTE Am the class was dominated from Aston Martin Racing #98 from almost start to finish and took the Victory with 1 lap ahead of AF Corse number 83 and Larbre Competition number 50 – while KCMG number 78 finished just 0,161 of a second behind Larbre and therefore missed the podium by a very small margin.
Aston Martin Racing 98 with Mathias Lauda, Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana leads the GTE Am championship but just 1 point behind them we find AF Corse 83 with Emanuelle Collard, Francois Perrodo and Rui Aguas with Paulo Ruberti, Pierre Ragues og Yutaka Yamagishi in Larbre Competition in 3rd position.
The next round will be the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. Not only is it the most prestigious race of the year, but also double points are awarded to everybody who finishes the race – and that means crossing the finishing line after the 24 hours, and not retiring with 20, 10 or even 2 minutes left!