Night falls on the Ardennes and the 24h of Spa-Francorchamps enters one of the most difficult phases when we have passed the fourth of the race.
The GT World Challenge Europe – Endurance Cup and Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers continued to give good overtaking and action on the 7km of the Belgian track, where however also the race direction had its work cut out by inflicting a tide of Drive-Through per track -limits not respected by the protagonists.
This has further reshuffled the cards and the ranking, also because some teams have opted for different strategies than their rivals, managing to recover positions.
Among those who have paid the aforementioned penalties are Saintéloc Racing (Audi # 26 and # 27), AKKA ASP (Mercedes # 87), Attempto Racing (Audi # 99), Boutsen Ginion Racing (BMW # 10), Winward Racing (Mercedes # 57), Haegely by T2 Racing (Porsche # 166), GPX Martini Racing (Porsche # 22), Herberth Motorsport (Porsche # 911), Sky Tempesta Racing (Ferrari # 93), Jota (McLaren # 38), GRT (Lamborghini # 16) and Team Allied Racing (Porsche # 222).
Kessel Racing (Ferrari # 11) had to serve a Drive Through for exceeding the speed limit in the pit lane, same fate as the Porsche # 56 of Dinamic Motorsport for causing an accident. The WRT’s # 30 Audi stopped for a 30 “Stop & Go after exceeding the limit in stints.
Speaking of the ranking, Alessandro Pier Guidi made a big hit during the 5th hour, jumping in front of Marco Mapelli with a great move at the end of the “Kemmel” straight. The Iron Lynx driver thus rises to the absolute command and the PRO Class with the Ferrari # 51, chased by the Lamborghini # 63 of Orange 1 FFF Racing Team now in the hands of Andrea Caldarelli.
Third is the BMW M6 # 35 of Walkenhorst Motorsport (Timo Glock / Martin Tomczyk / Thomas Neubauer), which has one more stop to its assets than the other cars that precede it, while the Audi R8 # 32 of Team WRT (Dries Vanthoor / Kelvin Van Der Linde / Charles Weerts) is trying to climb back into the Top10 from the back, now occupying fourth place.
Jota’s McLaren 720 S # 38 (Rob Bell / Oliver Wilkinson / Ben Barnicoat) is doing well despite an obvious penalty and is fifth, followed by Schnabl Engineering’s Porsche # 3 (Dennis Olsen / Michael Christensen / Frédéric Makowiecki).
Seventh Mercedes-AMG # 90 of MadPanda Motorsport (Ezequiel Perez Companc / Ricardo Sanchez / Patrick Kujala / Rik Breukers), leading widely in the Silver Cup Class.
A different strategy than the others also for Team WRT’s Audi # 37, which with Nico Müller / Robin Frijns / Dennis Lind was in the lead in the first part of the race, now closely followed by the # 88 Mercedes-AMG branded AKKA ASP (Raffaele Marciello / Daniel Juncadella / Jules Gounon) in the tug-of-war for eighth and ninth place.
The Mercedes # 50 of HubAuto (Nicky Catsburg / Maxi Buhk / Maxi Götz) and the Porsche 911 GT3-R # 22 of GPX Martini Racing (Matt Campbell / Earl Bamber / Mathieu Jaminet) closed the absolute Top 10 and the PRO one respectively.
In the Silver Cup, second place is always in the Lamborghini # 14 of Alex Fontana / Ricardo Feller / Rolf Ineichen (Emil Frey Racing), while the Bentley Continental # 107 of Stuart White / Pierre-Alexandre Jean / Nelson Panciatici / Ulysse De gets third. Pauw, who overtook Winward Racing’s # 57 Mercedes driven by Philip Ellis / Mikael Grenier / Russell Ward.
The Ferrari # 33 of Rinaldi Racing (Benjamin Hites / Fabrizio Crestani / David Perel) got behind the Audi # 99 of Attempto Racing (Fabien Lavergne / Max Hofer / Alex Aka) in the duel for fifth place in the category.
In the PRO-AM Class, the Lamborghini # 77 of Barwell Motorsport (Miguel Ramos / Leo Machitski / Henrique Chaves / Sandy Mitchell) took command of the operations, chased by the Aston Martin Vantage # 188 of Garage 59 (Alexander West / Chris Goodwin / Charlie Eastwood / Marvin Kirchhöfer).
However, both have AF Corse Ferraris (# 52 Louis Machiels / John Wartique / Andrea Bertolini / Alessio Rovera) and Sky Tempesta Racing (# 93 Jonathan Hui / Chris Froggatt / Matteo Cressoni / Eddie Cheever) threateningly behind them.
Finally in the AM Class the Porsche # 166 of Haegely by T2 Racing (Pieder Decurtins / Dennis Busch / Manuel Lauck / Marc Basseng) slipped behind the # 23 of Hubert Motorsport (Jacob Schell / Ivan Jacoma / Niki Leutwiler / Nico Menzel) after having discounted the Drive Through mentioned above.