Text: Rick Kiewiet
Nick Tandy, Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber have won the 24 hours of Spa in the #98 Rowe Racing Porsche. After last year’s GPX win, Porsche now scored two victories in a row in the biggest GT3 race in the world.
Barwell Motorsport looked set to do the same in the Silver Cup after last year’s win, but the #78 crashed into the spun #991 Herberth Motorsport Porsche on top of Raidillon and ended their hopes for the win with little over a quarter race to go. The #5 HRT Mercedes inherited the lead and managed to take the class win.
Dennis Lind in the #63 Orange 1 FFF Lamborghini he shared with former champions Mapelli and Caldarelli, was next to try and pass the WEC-themed Ferrari of Calado, Pier Guidi and Nielsen.
He had more success, though not before the #51 took the GT World Challenge Endurance Cup points at the 12-hour mark.
By the time dawn broke, 8 cars were still in the lead lap.
Dennis Lind led in the #63 Lamborghini, about a second ahead of the #98 Rowe Racing Porsche with Earl Bamber in the driver’s seat.
Some 25 seconds behind were the #51 AF Corse Ferrari and the #12 GPX Porsche of Campbell, Pilet and Jaminet.
The #4 HRT Mercedes of Stolz, Engel and Abril was half a minute further down.
The #54 Dinamic Porsche of Cairoli, Müller and Engelhart followed at a minute, pursued by the #66 Attempto Audi of Vervisch, Niederhauser and Drudi and the #25 Sainteloc R8 of Haase, Winkelhock and Boccolacci.
Then suddenly, at two thirds of the race, Lind crashed out of the race at high speed at Raidillon handing over the lead to the #98 Porsche.
The last safety car came out just passed the last 65-minute mark, the maximum stint time, giving all the leaders the opportunity to make their last stop towards the end.
With an hour to go, great strategy, the right choices and great driving had brought Earl Bamber in the #98 Porsche the lead, though still closely followed by the same group of cars that chased him 5 hours earlier.
Only now, they were all within 15 seconds, separated only by a small number of back markers, if any.