Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spa 24 Hours: Audi wins the Spa 24 Hours 2014

By Tarek Ramchani

Audi did it again at Spa-Francorchamps. The Ingolstadt brand just won the prestigious Total 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps overall with the all conquering Audi R8 LMS ultra. A total of four cars made into the Top 5 overall.

The winning #1 Audi R8 LMS ultra run by the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT was simply the best car in this demanding all GT3 field. Laurens Vanthoor, René Rast and Markus Winkelhock who started from pole position Saturday afternoon crossed the finish line victorious covering 527 laps. René Rast made the decisive move with 15 minutes left passing the leading BMW.

The three drivers pushed very hard all race long and deserved this victory after a very hard 24-hour race. Laurens Vanthoor, René Rast and Markus Winkelhock gave also Audi a first victory this season in the Blancpain Endurance Series.

René Rast won his second Spa 24 Hours victory after the victory in 2012 with Phoenix Racing. for both Laurens Vanthoor and Markus Winkelhock this is a first win in the Belgian Ardennes.

Second place went to the #77 BMW Z4 GT3 from BMW Sports Trophy Team VDS driven by Dirk Werner, Lucas Lhur and Markus Paltalla. The podium was completed by the #3 Audi R8 LMS ultra from Belgian Audi Club Team WRT in the hands of Christopher Mies, Frank Stippler and James Nash who performed very well all race long.

A great race for the French Sainteloc Racing team. Their #26 Audi R8 LMS ultra of Stéphane Ortelli, Edward Sandstrom and Gregory Guilvert ended in a very strong fourth place.

Bad luck hit the three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winners. André Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler finished twelfth overall after loosing many laps in their garage.

Credits to the British Parker Racing Team who finished the Spa 24 Hours in a fine second place within the Gentlemen Trophy class. Their #22 Audi R8 LMS ultra was driven by Ian Loggie, Leonid Machitski, Carl Rosenblad and Julian Westwood.

This marks the third major endurance victory for Audi this year after the wins at Le Mans 24 Hours with Audi Sport Team Joest (Audi R18 e-tron quattro) and the Nurburgring 24 Hours with Phoenix Racing (Audi R8 LMS ultra). Audi repeated an achievement already done in 2012 when the brand won all three major European endurance races.

For the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT today's victory at Spa-Francorchamps is their second in the Belgian endurance classic after their first win back in 2011.

At first the Audi victory looks really easy, but fact is the field was great and the race was very hard for all competitors. A lot of Saftey Car periods and even a long red flag after a horrific crash involving two Ferrari 458 GT3s highlighted this 2014 edition.

Now all focus will be on the Blancpain Endurance Series season finale at the Nurburgring. Audi teams and drivers will fight for the championship titles in the special 1000km race. Laurens Vanthoor is the new Pro-Cup leader with 74 points followed by the three Sainteloc Racing Audi drivers Stéphane Ortelli, Edward Sandstrom and Gregory Guilvert in second with 67 points.

Photo credit: Audi Media