Porsche took its first Spa 24 Hours victory since 2010 as GPX Racing stormed to victory despite two safety cars in the final 30 minutes at Spa-Francorchamps.
In the final two hours, the GPX Porsche 911 GT3 R moved into the lead thanks to several breath-taking stints by Kévin Estre – who has taken his first outright 24 hours victory with this win – Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen.
It wasn’t plain sailing for the team though, as Nick Tandy – in the #998 ROWE Racing Porsche – powered his way from fourth to second and looked like he was going to soon be on the back of Estre in the Gulf-liveried car.
However, Estre was assisted by two caution periods for two separate crashes. The first was to recover Benny Simonsen’s Modena Motorsports Porsche with 25 minutes still to go as he took too much kerb coming out of No Name corner and slammed into the barriers. He got out of the car unaided and thanks to quick work from the track team, there was only a brief caution period.
It was only a couple of minutes after the track went green again that there was yet another caution as the #54 Dinamic Porsche spun into both Rene Rast’s fourth-placed Team WRT Audi R8 LMS and the #444 HB Racing Ferrari 488. The Ferrari managed to continue but both Rast and Klaus Bachler – in the Dinamic car – were forced to retire at Double Gauche.
Both of those caution periods, while they were over quickly, gave Tandy too much to do with too little time as he tried to thread his way through the traffic between himself and Estre. The Brit took the flag just 3.374sec behind.
It wasn’t easy for the Frenchman though as he almost had his race ended with 32 minutes still to race as he was almost taken out by Shae Davies in the #17 Team WRT Audi. Estre went up the inside of the Australian going into the Bus Stop and Davies appeared to have not seen the Porsche as he went to take the normal racing line and hit the GPX car. There appeared to be no lasting damage to either car, despite a spin for Davies.
There was no such drama for Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Yelmer Buurman as Engel fought off a late charge from Christopher Haase in the Sainteloc Racing Audi to take the final spot on the overall podium.
Capping a strong showing for Porsche was the #98 ROWE Racing entry claiming fifth in the closing minutes of the race as Matthieu Jaminet elbowed his way past Renger van der Zande in the Honda Team Motul NSX on the run down to Eau Rouge.
Seventh was the third ROWE Racing Porsche, with Andrea Caldarelli – in the #563 FFF Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo – dropping to eighth late on after a drive-through penalty just before the 23-hour mark for causing a collision.
Ninth went to the #117 Team75 Bernhard Porsche with the GruppeM Mercedes-AMG GT3 rounding out the top ten.
Silver Cup honours went to James Pull, Sandy Mitchell and Jordan Witt in the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini who took the class lead at mid-distance and never seemed likely to relinquish the top spot.
Also never looking likely to give up their class win was the Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage crew. After a mega start from the pitlane for Nicki Thiim, Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Ahmad Al Harthy joined the Dane in pulling off a faultless drive up through the field, gaining 50 places as they finished 22nd overall to take Pro-Am Cup honours. They were a lap ahead of the next nearest car in that class, the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
28th overall went to Am Cup winners Rinaldi Racing as the Ferrari 488 GT3 team finished a lap ahead of long-time competitors the #77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini.
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