Fantastic race at Spa Francorchamps

FIA World Endurance Championship race at Spa Francorchamps was a classic Spa race, with changing weather and fantastic racing.

Olivier Pla, Pipo Derani and Romain Dumas in Glickenhaus Racing #708 had taken the team’s first Pole Position in FIA WEC, ahead of Alpine Elf Team #36 with Matthieu Vaxiviere, Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao, followed by Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway, and Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 with Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa and Sebastien Buemi in P4.

AF Corse #83 with Alessio Rovera, Nicklas Nielsen and Francois Perrodo started from not only LMP2 Pole, but also LMP2 Pro/Am Pole. WRT #31 with Robin Frijns, Sean Gelael and Rene Rast started from the second place, ahead of United Autosports USA #22 with Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Will Owen.

Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz in Porsche #91 was the GTE Pro Pole, ahead of Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre in Porsche #92, while Corvette Racing #64 with Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner was in P3. AF Corse Ferrari #51 with Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, and Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco in #52 were in P4 and 5 respectively.

TF Sport Aston Martin #33 with Ben Keating, Marco Sørensen and Henrique Chaves started from Pole in GTE Am, ahead of Northwest AMR #98 with Paul Dalla Lana, Nicki Thiim and David Pittard, while Brendan Iribe, Ben Barnicoat and Oliver Millroy in Team Project 1 Porsche #56 was third.

6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps 2022 start
Photo: JJ Media

The start was chaotic, where Alpine Elf Team #36 tried to take a long way around in Turn 1. With the new gravel area, however, they had to merge back in and lost so much speed that Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 could drive past down the straight. In fact, AF Corse #83 was also close to overtaking some of the cars, but they had to merge back in behind, ending up losing a spot to JOTA #38.

In the GTE Pro category, Estre in #92 outbraked himself but managed to avoid hitting his teammate Bruni in #91 by the skin of his teeth. At the exit of La Source, however, there was contact between the two, which broke the rim of #91, so Bruni had to crawl for an entire lap with just three tires, which cost him a lap.

Before GR Racing Porsche #86 managed to come to the starting line, Michael Wainwright spun by himself.

Christina Nielsen in Iron Dames Ferrari #85 got a push in Turn 1 by Team Project 1 Porsche, and ended up in the gravel, where she got stuck. It triggered a Safety Car, so she could get pulled back to the track and continue. It ended up costing the team a whole lap before the car came back to the asphalt.

Porsche #91
Photo: JJ Media

Porsche #91 had to pit again to change the remaining tires on the car, and came up with a different pit strategy.

Northwest AMR #98 and Spirit of Race Ferrari #71 had contact in the Bus Stop Chicane, sending #71 a few positions down in the GTE Am field.

AF Corse Ferrari #21 had taken the lead in GTE Am, ahead of D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777 – but the two cars hadn’t put their Bronze-rated driver in the cars to start the race, which was a huge advantage compared to the competitors.

AF Corse #83, WRT #31 and Prema Orlen Team #9 fought for the second to fourth positions in LMP2, which sometimes happened outside the asphalt, which also resulted in warnings for the drivers.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 took the lead of the race, after half an hour, when Buemi got an advantage over Pla in Glickenhaus Racing #708, and drove past at the end of Kemmel Straight.

Realteam by WRT #41 got a puncture on their left rear tire, but luckily Rui Andrade managed to slow down the car before something serious could happen.

Glickenhaus Racing #708 also lost second place when Mike Conway, who was a bit bold in the traffic, got past from the outside in the Bus Stop Chicane.

The stewards gave Northwest AMR #98 a Drive-through, for the contact with Spirit of Race Ferrari #71 earlier in the race.

Vector Sport #10
Photo: JJ Media

An hour into the race, the rain clouds began to get close to the track, and the first reports about showers in the air came in from the far end of the track.

Prema Orlen Team #9 started to be more and more frustrated to get stuck behind WRT #31, and got more and more desperate in outbraking attempts.

Glickenhaus Racing #708 was the first Hypercar that pitted.

Team Project 1 Porsche #56 got a Drive-through for the contact with Iron Dames Ferrari #85 on the first lap.

ARC Bratislava #44 stalled in the middle of the track, where Miro Konopka had some difficulties restarting the car, but finally managed to continue.

Prema Orlen Team #9 finally got past WRT #31, when #31 got caught up behind Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 up through the Eau Rouge-Raidillon combination, and thus had a better line to Kemmel Straight.

ARC Bratislava #44 had a big accident in Turn 13, where Miro Konopka went over the gravel on the right side, tried to catch the car, and hit the barrier on the left side, which ripped both the front and rear parts of the car. Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 managed to avoid them in the very last second. It triggered another Safety Car, which turned into a red flag since it required huge clean-up work. Luckily, Konopka was okay and could come out of the car by himself.

D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777
Photo: JJ Media

All the cars stopped at the start-finish straight, meanwhile, the rain slowly but surely began to fall over the track.

After half an hour of red flag, the race got restarted behind the Safety Car. It took a bit of time for Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 to start the, but finally they managed to get some life in the car again.

But it didn’t take further than Eau Rough, where Buemi almost spun due to the wet asphalt. A few metres later, the car stopped on the track and he could only watch the entire field drive past. He restarted the car, but only for half a lap before it stopped again, and this time it was over. The car stopped with the electricity still on, which meant Buemi had to jump out of the car by himself, without touching the ground. After that, the team’s mechanics arrived to get the hybrid part under control before the marshals were allowed to touch the car.

Spirit of Race Ferrari #71 spun halfway into the lap and hit the tire wall quite hard. Franck Dezoteux got the car back to the pits, where it got pushed back into the garage.

Alpine Elf Team #36 and Glickenhaus Racing #708 both spun off the track under the Safety Car, since there was so much rainwater on the track. But both could continue.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 was leading the race, with Prema Orlen Team #9 in P2 – in an LMP2.

Glickenhaus Racing #708 & Porsche #91
Photo: JJ Media

Everyone had to pit for fuel, straight away after the pitlane opened. A lot of teams chose to put on wet tires, but they were still behind the Safety Car since the Toyota mechanics were still busy putting the #8 hybrid system into safe mode, so the car could get moved.

It meant that Vector Sport #10 was the new leader in the race, but they hadn’t pitted.

Algarve Pro Racing #45, D’Station Racing #777 and Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 were under investigation for having potentially done something illegal under the SC period. Later, AF Corse Ferrari #51 was added to the list.

At the same time, #45 got ordered to let the other cars get past as they were on slicks, while the rain fell hard over the track.

The race director chose to red flag the race again due to the so much water on the track, so it would take a long time to release the cars again.

Corvette Racing #64
Photo: JJ Media

The clock kept ticking under the red flag, which was good for some teams and bad for some others, depending on whether they had their lowest-ranked driver in the car or not.

After two hours, WRT #31 was the overall leader as well as the LMP2 category, ahead of Alpine Elf Team #36, who was the leader in Hypercar, while Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 and Glickenhaus Racing #708 were second and third. Prema Orlen Team #9 was P2 in the LMP2 category, while United Autosports USA #22 and #23 were third and fourth.

AF Corse #83 was sixth in LMP2, and at the same time the leader in LMP2 Pro/Am.

AF Corse Ferrari #52 was leading GTE Pro, but with one less pitstop from the others – and thus they would have to pit soon. Porsche #92 with Michael Christensen was second, AF Corse Ferrari #51 was third.

AF Corse Ferrari #21 led GTE Am, ahead of Northwest AMR #98 and AF Corse Ferrari #54.

The race got restarted after half an hour, where the car rolled behind the Safety Car.

AF Corse #83 got under investigation by the stewards for getting help at the grip, from a person who wasn’t permitted to touch the car.

The race got restarted in the rain but less heavy than earlier in the afternoon.

Glickenhaus Racing #708 fought with some LMP2 cars but managed to drive past them.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 overtook Alpine Elf Team #36 after battling for one lap, but they still needed to catch WRT #31, who had a driver who’s good in the rain Robin Frijns behind the wheel.

Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 had a spin in the Bus Stop Chicane, but managed to continue.

Inter Europol Competition #34
Photo: JJ Media

D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777 had also a spin, one lap later, but it took Satoshi Hoshino a bit longer to continue. It turned out Iron Dames Ferrari #85 had contact with #777, which got investigated by the stewards.

Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 also got investigated for potentially having received help before the race restart.

The two United Autosports USA cars swapped positions, so #23 was now ahead of #22. Alexander Lynn was flying in the rain, chasing Robert Kubica in Prema Orlen Team #9 with lighting speed.

Team Penske #5 went off the track in Turn 8, after Dane Cameron tried to outbrake Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88, but he braked way too late.

Shortly afterwards, Richard Mille Racing Team #1 with Sebastien Ogier went over the gravel in Turn 14, but managed to come back without any issue, even though there was light contact with the tire barrier.

AF Corse Ferrari #54 had a solo spin out of Turn 9, where Francesco Castellacci was lucky not to be stuck in the gravel and hit the armco, since he went off sideways. The Italian quickly continued without any damage, but he lost the lead to Team Project 1 Porsche #46, where Matteo Cairoli was doing his magic behind the wheel.

D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777 got a Drive-through for getting too much fuel under an earlier Safety Car period. You’re only allowed to refuel for five seconds, if you pit within the first three laps.

Team Penske #5 had a spin, very similarly to AF Corse Ferrari #54, a few minutes before. Dane Cameron could quickly continue.

Iron Dames Ferrari #85
Photo: JJ Media

Porsche #91 went over the gravel in Turn 15, but Bruni could come back to the asphalt by himself.

JOTA #38 went off the track in Turn 1, where Antonio Felix da Costa ran out of asphalt – but he could come back by himself.

Ultimate #35 got stuck in the gravel in Turn 12, which triggered a Full Course Yellow, so that Matthieu Lahaye could be pulled back to the asphalt.

The FCY period caused a whole lot of pitstops, since the teams could save some time compared to pitting under a normal green flag period.

Iron Dames Ferrari #85 got a Drive-through for the contact with D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777.

Just as the FCY got lifted, Inter Europol Competition #34 had a big run-off in Turn 9, which broke the LMP2 car. Luckily, Alex Brundle was okay, but the car was so damaged it couldn’t drive from there.

It caused another Safety Car period, since the rain fell even harder than before, plus #34 had to be removed, and the armco that Brundle hit had to be repaired.

AF Corse Ferrari #54 and JOTA #38 had contact on the way through Eau Rouge, but both cars survived.

AF Corse Ferrari #21 almost spun off the track under the SC period when it aquaplaned. Luckily, it was past the incident spot. It could get serious if he hit the parked marshal car, that currently inspecting the armco.

It turned into a red flag, since it took about twenty minutes for the rain to lessen and the armco to be repaired.

Alpine Elf Team #36
Photo: JJ Media

After twenty minutes, the cars got sent out again behind the SC. Meanwhile, the rain stopped, but the track was still very wet.

The race finally got restarted with a bit over two hours left.

AF Corse Ferrari #21 got a 20-second Stop & Go for speeding in the pitlane.

Richard Mille Racing Team #1 went over the gravel again, where Sebastien Ogier shared a bit of the gravel with two other drivers when he came back to the track.

AF Corse Ferrari #51 took second place in GTE Pro when they overtook Porsche #92, that wasn’t as fast as they were before, even though it was actually the classic Porsche weather.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 took the overall lead of the race with under two hours left, when Kamui Kobayashi drove past Robin Frijns in WRT #31. At the same time, Glickenhaus Racing #708 lurked behind them, waiting for the chance to overtake #31 as well. It happened one lap later, and so we were back to Hypercar 1-2.

Mikkel O. Pedersen got in Team Project 1 Porsche #46 with an hour and 52 minutes left. The Dane would have to do his best to hold on the lead that his teammate Cairoli had fought for. It wasn’t easy since it was the first time he got into a Porsche 911 RSR-19 on wet tires, and that was why he had to get used to it first.

JOTA #38 went over the gravel in the Stavelot corner, but Antonio Felix da Costa got the car back to the asphalt.

Realteam by WRT #41 got overtaken by AF Corse #83. Nicklas Nielsen didn’t give up without a fight, but he still had to think about keeping the lead in LMP2 Pro/Am.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 thought they could overtake both AF Corse Ferrari #54 and TF Sport Aston Martin #33 at the same attempt, but they had to use the run-off area at the end of Kemmel Straight to come around the corner.

Vector Sport #10 got stuck in the gravel in Turn 8 when Sebastien Bourdais outbraked himself. It triggered an FCY in order to get him back to the track.

AF Corse Ferrari #51 and some others used the chance to pit for slicks, taking a gamble on whether the track would soon be dry enough for that. There were dry tracks in some places, but was it too early?

Team Project 1 Porsche #46
Photo: JJ Media

United Autosports #23 couldn’t get their door opened, and they had to do their drive change from the passenger side from Alexander Lynn to Oliver Jarvis.

AF Corse #83 got a three-minute Stop & Go for not respecting the Safety Car procedure earlier in the race. A huge drama for the LMP2 Pro/Am leading car.

Glickenhaus Racing #708 had to pit after intermediates after gambling on slicks, since they meant it was too early.

Prema Orlen Team #9 lost control of the car at the same place where Inter Europol Competition #34 did earlier in the race. Louis Deletraz spun and instead of hitting the armco on the outside, he went sideways and hit the armco on the inside, which damaged the front of the ORECA 07 Gibson car.

AF Corse Ferrari #21 had a spin in the gravel in the Les Combes chicane. It caused another FCY period, so Simon Mann could get pulled back to the asphalt.

The last hour of the race started with Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 leading the race, WRT #31 leading LMP2, AF Corse #83 leading LMP2 Pro/Am, AF Corse Ferrari #52 leading GTE Pro, and TF Sport Aston Martin #33 with Marco Sørensen leading GTE Am.

Vector Sport #10 had a spin under the FCY period, which wasn’t usual for Bourdais.

Just as the FCY period ended, it only took a few corners before JOTA #28 hit the tire wall in Stavelot hard, with Jonathan Aberdein behind the wall. Hence there was another FCY.

AF Corse #83 had a spin under the FCY period, but Rovera could quickly continue.

Aberdein managed to get JOTA #28 back to the pits to get a new nose.

When the race got restarted, Michael Christensen in Porsche #92 was less than two seconds from GTE Pro lead. The problem was just, that there were two AF Corse Ferraris ahead of him.

AF Corse Ferrari #21 went over the gravel in Turn 9, but this time Mann could recover without any help.

Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 got a three-minute Stop & Go for a mistake under an earlier Safety Car period.

Algarve Pro Racing #45
Photo: JJ Media

The lead in GTE Am changed when Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 overtook TF Sport Aston Martin #33. Harry Tincknell snatched the lead from Marco Sørensen, after having overtaken Thiim in Northwest AMR #98 shortly beforehand.

United Autosports #22 took the second place in the LMP2 category, and shortly after that Realteam by WRT #41 almost went off the track in Turn 1, in an attempt to catch #22. The positions soon changed again when Hanson got held back a bit by Toyota Gazoo Racing #7.

One and a half laps later it changed again when Ferdinand Habsburg #41 got held back by a slower GTE car, and thus Phil Hanson in #22 got a huge advantage over him.

Things got physical between AF Corse Ferrari #52 and Porsche #92, where #52 blocked a few times and tried to push Christensen over the wet tracks. Wisely, the Dane pulled back from the battle, since it’s not good to have two cars side-by-side through the Eau Rouge/Raidillon combination.

United Autosports USA #22 lost the rear of the car under braking to the Bus Stop chicane, and not only lost second place in the LMP2 category, but also to JOTA #38.

Hanson in #22 lost a position more to Team Penske #5, which the Englishman quickly got back again. Shortly afterwards, Hanson and Felipe Nasr in #5 tried to drive side-by-side through Eau Rouge. Her, Nasr chose to pull back, since there was only one dry track through the corner.

Porsche #92 took second place in GTE Pro with 26 minutes left from AF Corse Ferrari #52. After that, Christensen was only a bit over one second behind the leading AF Corse Ferrari #51.

WRT #31 went off the track, in the otherwise dominant lead. Rene Rast braked too late on the Les Combes Chicane, but luckily he didn’t lose any position.

TF Sport Aston Martin #33 & Northwest AMR #98
Photo: JJ Media

Team Project 1 Porsche #56 went off the track in Turn 9, where Brendan Iribe hit the tire wall hard. It caused yet another Full Course Yellow, just as Porsche #92 had caught up with AF Corse Ferrari #51.

Richard Mille Racing Team #1 had a spin in Turn 1, blocking the pit exit, just as Team Project 1 Porsche #56 was on the way out. #56 had to overtake it from the outside.

The race got restarted again with ten minutes left. Porsche #92 put pressure on AF Corse Ferrari #51 straight away.

AF Corse Ferrari #21 had a spin on the way to the Bus Stop Chicane, but could continue by itself.

United Autosports USA #22 and Team Penske #5 fought so hard that both braked late at the end of Kemmel Straight, and had to take the shortcut through the Les Combes Chicane.

The race was over for Team Project 1 Porsche #56 when Brendan Iribe had to park the car with steam coming out from the engine.

There was contact between Ultimate #35 and WRT #31, but both could continue.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi won the race, ahead of Alpine Elf Team #36 with Matthieu Vaxiviere, Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao, while Glickenhaus Racing #708 with Pipo Derani, Romain Dumas and Olivier Pla finished third in Hypercar.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7
Photo: JJ Media

WRT #31 with Rene Rast, Robin Frijns and Sean Gelael not only won the LMP2 category, but also finished third overall. Realteam by WRT #41 with Ferdinand Habsburg, Norman Nato and Rui Andrade finished second, and JOTA #38 with Will Stevens, Roberto Gonzalez and Antonio Felix da Costa finished in P3.

WRT #31
Photo: JJ Media

AF Corse #83 with Alessio Rovera, Francois Perrodo and Nicklas Nielsen won the LMP2 Pro/Am category, ahead of Algarve Pro Racing #45 with James Allen, Steven Thomas and Rene Binder, while Ultimate #35 with Jean-Baptiste and Matthieu Lahaye plus Francois Heriou finished third.

AF Corse #83
Photo: JJ Media

GTE Pro category got won by AF Corse Ferrari #51 with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi, 0,523 second ahead of Porsche #92 with Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, while AF Corse Ferrari #52 with Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina finished 0,733 second further back. Corvette Racing #64 with Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy finished fourth, while Porsche #91 with Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz had to be happy with fifth place, after the chaos on the first lap.

AF Corse Ferrari #51
Photo: JJ Media

In the GTE Am, Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 won with Harry Tincknell, Sebastian Priaulx and Christian Ried, with 1,539 second down to TF Sport Aston Martin #33 with Ben Keating, Henrique Chaves and Marco Sørensen, while Northwest AMR #98 with Nicki Thiim, Paul Dalla Lana and David Pittard finished third.

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77
Photo: JJ Media

Alpine Elf Team #36 keeps the lead in Hypercar, ahead of Glickenhaus Racing #708 and Toyota Gazoo Racing #8.

WRT #31 has taken the lead in the LMP2 category, ahead of United Autosports USA #23 and Realteam by WRT #41.

AF Corse #83 holds tight in the LMP2 Pro/Am championship lead, ahead of Ultimate #35 and Algarve Pro Racing #45.

Porsche #92 keeps the lead in GTE Pro, ahead of AF Corse Ferrari #51, and Corvette Racing #64.

Northwest AMR #98 keeps the lead in GTE AM, ahead of TF Sport Aston Martin #33, while Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 moves up to third in the championship.

The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship is on 11-12 June when the 2022 edition of 24 Hours of Le Mans will be run.

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