It was a really wet fifth round of European Le Mans Series at Spa Francorchamps.
The rain drizzled over the track all day, but it only intensified as the day went.
That was why the race director chose to start the race behind the Safety Car, where the cars tried to get rid of some water off the track.
The start of the race went pretty calm, but unfortunately High Class Racing #49 was the first car to get into troubles, with a tour on the grass – more of that later.
JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 with Liam Griffen approached the start very calmly, and thus he fell down to last in the GTE category. Ebimotors Porsche #80, on the other hand, didn’t hold anything back and took the lead, while Proton Competition #88 and #77 were second and third.
Nicolas Jamin in Duqueine Engineering #29 was flying in the rain, and quickly went up from fourth start position to the lead, where he drove past Andrea Pizzitola in G-Drive Racing #26, that fell further and further back. It didn’t get better when he went off through the gravel, sending him even further down the field.
AT Racing #9 stopped on Kemmel Straight a bit over an hour into the race. Unfortunately, it was the last time we saw the car today.
The first actual Safety Car period came when Jean-Baptiste Lahaye hit the tire barrier hard in Turn 13. Luckily nothing happened apart from some material damage, but the car was out of the race.
After 50 minutes of racing, High Class Racing #49 chose to park the car. After a few pitstops due to electrical problems, which also forced Anders Fjordbach to drive off the track on the first flying lap, as we mentioned before. It happened when the pit limiter suddenly turned on, which braked the car hard and he had to do everything he could to regain control of the car. Shortly after the incident, the car was stuck on fifth gear, but after a reset he could drive the car back to the pits. But there was nothing the team could do. Because of the difficult conditions on the track, they decided to park the car for the rest of the day, since they couldn’t gain any valuable experience, anyway.
Krohn Racing Ferrari #83 and NEFIS by Speed Factory #5 hit each other under braking on the way to La Source. After #5 just overtook #83 and braked right ahead of it, with no chance for Niclas Jönsson to avoid. It damaged both cars, and #83 had to retired due to big damages o n the front of the car. #5 just managed to escape with a defect rear end.
United Autosports #22 pitted early and changed from Phil Hanson to Filipe Albuerquerque. It looked like the strategy paid off, when they took the lead of the race after everybody had done their first pitstop.
RLR MSport #15 was in front in the LMP3 class after the first hour. Although there were a lot of different pit strategies, so it was hard to see who the real leader was.
DKR Engineering #8 had to do an extra tour to the pits, because during their pitstop under the Safety Car they drove out of the pitlane when the red light was still on. It cost them a Drive-Through penalty.
Jean-Eric Vergne in G-Drive Racing #26 attracted attention when he hit something on the side under braking and hit poor Christian Ried, who got sent out over the grass right next to APR – Rebellion Racing #31, who defencelessly lost their rear wing. Ried’s car was so damaged that he had to retire. The team owner was livid, and was about to kick a stool in the pits when he either thought that he already had a big bill coming his way for the car repair and didn’t need another one on a stool – or that it would be ridiculous to break a foot by kicking something.
Inter Europol Competition #13 got hit by Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen #7 in Turn 1, after an hour and a half, but both could continue. But #13 got a damage on the rear of the car that had to be repaired in the next pitstop.
After an hour and 40 minutes, the Safety Car was deployed when APR – Rebellion Racing #31 stalled on Kemmel Straight and had to be towed.
At the same time Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen #7 had a little off track moment, but he could put the car in reverse gear and continue.
RLR MSport #15 had a very exciting moment in Eau Rouge when the car aquaplaned for Job van Uitert, but he regained control of it again.
Two hours into the race, United Autosports #22 was leading, ahead of DragonSpeed #21 and Panis Barthez Competition #23. In LMP3 it was United Autosports #2 in front, followed by RLR MSport #15 and 360 Racing #6, while Ebimotors Porsche #80 continued to lead the GTE class in front of Spirit of Race Ferrari #55 and Proton Competition #88.
After half an hour behind Safety Car, the race director chose to stop the race, since the conditions were only getting worse.
They tried to wait for another half an hour, but the weather didn’t get better, so the race couldn’t be restarted under reasonable conditions.
United Autosports #22 with Filipe Albuerquerque and Phil Hanson won the race, ahead of DragonSpeed #21 with Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman and Nicolas Lapierre, and Panis Barthez Competition #23 with Will Stevens, Timothy Buret and Julian Canal.
In LMP3 class, United Autosports #2 won with John Falb and substitute driver Scott Andrews, ahead of RLR MSport #15 with Rob Garofall, John Farano and Job van Uitert, with 360 Racing #6 with Ross Kaiser and Terrence Woodward in third.
Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen #7 with Christian Stubbe Olsen, Alex Kapadia and Colin Noble finished ninth in LMP3.
Ebimotors Porsche #80 with Fabio Babini, Riccardo Pera and Bret Curtis won the GTE class, ahead of Spirit of Race Ferrari #55 with Matt Griffin, Duncan Cameron and Andrew Scott, and in third place Proton Competition Porsche #88 with Gianluca Roda, Giorgio Roda Jr. and Matteo Cairoli.
At the moment, the championship points are still unclear, since they only went through a bit over 50% of the race before the red flag came out.
We will write more about the point situation as soon as we know.