Podium spots at Spa decided at the very end

It was a European Le Mans Series race at Spa Francorchamps, which had a bit of everything.

United Autosports #22 had Pole Position for the race with Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson, ahead of the sister car with Job van Uitert, Alex Brundle and Will Owen in #32, while Mikkel Jensen and Roman Rusinov started the race from P3 in the G-Drive Racing #26.

LMP3 had Wayne Boyd, Tom Gamble and Rob Wheldon on Pole with United Autosports #2, ahead of DKR Engineering #4 with Laurents Hörr, Francois Kirmann and Wolfgang Triller second, and Realteam Racing #8 with Esteban Garcia and David Droux on P3.

The GTE category had Richard Lietz, Felipe Laser and Michael Fassbender in the Proton Competition #93 on Pole, ahead of Kessel Racing Ferrari #74 with David Perel, Michael Broniszewski and Marcos Gomes, while Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 with Andrea Piccini, Claudio Schiavoni and Sergio Pianezzola starting third.

DragonSpeed #21 had to start from the pits, when they noted a fuel leak on the way to the starting grid. The rules also state, that if you start from the pits, you will lose a lap, before you can join the race.

Spa Francorchamps 2020 Start
Photo: JJ Media

There was plenty of battles throughout the field on the first lap.

JOTA #38 was up to the third place for a short amount of time, when  Anthony Davidson was a bit more bold in the first turns. G-Drive Racing #26 with Mikkel Jensen did however quickly regain third.

It was a hectic start to the GTE category, where there was contact in the mid-field, where Paul Dalla-Lana grabbed the chance, and took the lead in the AMR #98.

RLR MSport #15 with Malthe Jakobsen behind the wheel quickly made his way from fifth to second, in less than a lap.

RLR MSport #15
Photo: JJ Media

JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 and Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 had a contact at the end of the Kemmel Straight, where #66 came off worst, and damaged the suspension, and had to pit for repairs. Manuela Gostner lost quite a bit of time on the track, before she got going again, but she was able to continue without damage to the car.

Shortly into the race, there was a contact between Inter Europol Competition #13 and Nielsen Racing #10. #10 with Rob Hodes lost the rear of his car, and #13 with Martin Hippe was trying to avoid the spinning car, but wasn’t able to do so, before he hit the tire wall hard, at the same time as #10 slid backwards into his car as well. While #10 was able to wobble back to the pits under its own steam, #13 was out on the spot. That resulted in the first Safety Car of the day, so #13 could be craned away.

When the race went green, it was Mikkel Jensen in the G-Drive Racing #26 who was the bravest through the Eau Rouge/Raidillon corners, and carried so much extra speed, that he could take the race lead from Phil Hanson in United Autosports #22.

JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 got a Drive-through for the contact with the Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 earlier in the race.

JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66
Photo: JJ Media

There was more drama after 50 minutes of racing, with Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 and United Autosports #32 making contact. Claudio Schiavoni zig-zagged a bit from right to left, so Will Owen in #32 wasn’t quite sure which way to go. He made a decision and was almost fully past before there was contact between the two cars, which send #60 hard into the wall and out of the race.

That resulted in the second Safety Car of the race, so the car could be removed in a safe manner.

Jensen in G-Drive Racing #26 was lucky to have two LMP3 cars between himself and Phil Hanson in United Autosports #22. Cool Racing #37 saw a chance at the end of the Kemmel Straight, but Antonin Borga had to get hard on the brakes, so he didn’t plough into United Autosports #32 and JOTA #38, in their battle for third.

The stewards had looked at the #32 and #60 incident and gave UA #32 the blame, and handing them a Stop & Go penalty.

G-Drive Racing #26, Mikkel Jensen -> Roman Rusinov
Photo: JJ Media

Realteam Racing #8 had a solo spin, where Proton Competition Porsche #77 barely managed to avoid.

When G-Drive Racing #26 pitted two switches to Roman Rusinov, the actual driver change went well, but one of the mechanics was sadly hit by Cool Racing #37.

DKR Engineering #4, BHK Motorsport #16 and Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 were all called to the stewards, and their penalties were announced shortly after – 105 seconds Stop & Go penalty for having pitted during Safety car. That made an already bad day for #83 even worse.

There was a contact between Inter Europol Competition #34 and Cool Racing #37, which cost the rear light on #37, which had to pit for a new rear end.

Realteam Racing #8 was once again pointing in the wrong direction, but this time due to being hit by James Dayson in RLR MSport #15 in Turn 1.

Realteam Racing #8
Photo: JJ Media

There was a Full Course Yellow when AF Corse Ferrari #54 stopped out on the track.

When the race went green again, it was Filipe Albuquerque in UA #22, who was slightly faster than Mikkel Jensen in G-Drive Racing #26 and took the lead of the race.

Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 got the second penalty of the day, for pitting under Safety Car. This time was another Stop & Go penalty of 105 seconds.

BHK Motorsport #16 got a 45 seconds Stop & Go, for not respecting the first Stop & Go.

With 75 minutes left on the clock, the black clouds were heading towards the track.

Proton Competition Porsche #77
Photo: JJ Media

RLR MSport #15 with James Dayson had a spin at the end of the Kemmel Straight, but quickly rejoined.

Inter Europol Competition #34 got a Drive-through penalty for the contact with Cool Racing #37.

Proton Competition Porsche #93 and BHK Motorsport #16 got a Stop & Go penalty for having the engine running during their pitstops.

DKR Engineering #4 got a Drive-through penalty for speeding in the pits.

Duqueine Team #30
Photo: JJ Media

Dennis Andersen in High Class Racing #20 made contact with Colin Noble in Nielsen Racing #7, and had a half spin, before continuing on.

The final hour of the race had United Autosports #22 leading LMP2, United Autosports #2 in LMP3 and Proton Competition Porsche #77 in GTE.

There was a huge drama right after the final hour had started. Mikkel Jensen in G-Drive Racing #26 took the lead from Filipe Albuquerque in the United Autosports #22, when he got a huge run on up the Kemmel Straight.

That happened at the same time as Michele Beretta in the Proton Competition Porsche #77 spun at the top of Raidillon. That cost him the lead in the GTE category, with something that looked like a left-rear puncture – at least there wasn’t any air in the tire, after the first few pirouettes.

And then the rain started falling on parts of the track. And just when that started, Mikkel Jensen in #26 spun off the track, and hit the tire wall hard with both front and rear of the car, and was out of the race.

That resulted in a Full Course Yellow, to get the car towed away.

Kessel Racing Ferrari #74
Photo: JJ Media

The track dried up in the meantime, so all the teams that had pitted for rain tires, had made a wrong choice.

AF Corse Ferrari #88 got a Drive-though for speeding in the pitlane.

RLR MSport #15 dropped back in the field, when they had to repair their rear lights on the car, before Robert Megennis was able to take it to the track.

There was a quite exciting moment between IDEC Sport #28 and United Autosports #32, where Richard Bradley and Alex Brundle went side by side through La Source, and only just agreed to have #32 before getting to Eau Rouge – where the pair had to tackle the slower Proton Competition Porsche #77.

Graff #39
Photo: JJ Media

Shortly after the #32 got caught behind DKR Engineering #4, and had to give be spot back to #28, with a bit of rubbing during the overtake.

Thomas Laurent in Graff #39 went past Roberto Gonzalez in JOTA #38, claiming the third position in the race.

AF Corse Ferrari #88 took the second place in GTE, when Harrison Newey made his way past Matt Griffin in Spirit Of Race Ferrari #55.

Nielsen Racing #10 had to retire with 25 minutes left of the race, when they slowly rolled off the track and parked next to the guard rail.

BHK Motorsport #35 & High Class Racing #20
Photo: JJ Media

Duqueine Team #30 was almost getting into troubles when Tristan Gommendy was trying to overtake both an LMP3 and GTE car through Blanciment.

There was a Full Course Yellow shortly after, with a few debris to remove from Turn 16.

Several of the teams used that opportunity, to pit for the final time in the race.

The race went green with 17 minutes left.

Duqueine Team #30 pitted exactly at that point, resulting in them dropping off the podium.

United Autosports #2
Photo: JJ Media

Shortly after, the Realteam Racing #8 was parked in the Bus Stop chicane, and four marshals had to push the car through the pit entry. So unlucky for them, since they were sitting third in the LMP3 category.

IDEC Sport #28 was on the grass for a few meters, in a battle with Richard Mille Racing Team #50, in a very tough battle for 5th, with United Autosports #32 holding that position, less than a second further up the road.

The battle for second in LMP2 really heated up, with Graff #39 almost crashing, when Thomas Laurent was a bit too fast on the throttle, but Will Stevens in Panis Racing #31 had to stay behind. Tristian Gommendy in #30 was gaining hand over fist, catching the pair with several seconds per lap.

Algarve Pro Racing #25, Graff #39, Richard Mille Racing Team #50, Inter Europol Competition #34
Photo: JJ Media

Laurent in #39 made a small braking error going into the Bus Stop chicane, which gave Stevens in #31 a small chance, but not able to make it past. Going onto the very final lap, #39 made another small mistake, which delayed #31 so much, that #30 could grab third.

While Gommendy was pushing Laurent hard, he punctured going into the Blancimont corner, and had a wild spin, but luckily without hitting anything.

So in a crazy finish, United Autosports #22 with Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque crossed the line first, ahead of Graff #39 with Thomas Laurent, James Allen and Alexandre Cougnaud, and Panis Racing #31 with Will Stevens, Julien Canal and Nicolas Jamin in third.

LMP3 was won United Autosports #2 with Wayne Boyd, Tom Gamble and Rob Wheldon, ahead of Nielsen Racing #7 with Colin Noble and Tony Wells, while Eurointernational #11 with Niko Kari, Tommy Erdos and Andreas Laskaratos finished P3.

United Autosports #22
Photo: JJ Media

Kessel Racing Ferrari #74 won GTE with David Perel, Michael Broniszewski and Marcos Gomes, while AF Corse Ferrari #88 with Harrison Newey, Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo was second, and Aston Martin Racing #98 with Paul Dalla Lana, Augusto Farfus and Mathias Lauda finished third.

That was the end of the European Le Mans Series at Spa Francorchamps. The teams will return to Paul Ricard in three weeks’ time, for a Saturday evening race.

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