Audi Take Slim Win in Spa

Audi outmanoeuvred their opponents again today to take a slim win in the FIAWEC 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps. The #7 R18 etron Quattro of Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer took the chequered flag after 176 faultless laps around the legendary Belgian circuit.

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From the start it looked like Porsche had too much in the tank to be stopped, but a series of drivers errors and technical issues left a single Stuttgart entry fighting the ever-present threat of the Audi. When the #18 of Jani, Lieb and Dumas exited the pits after the final round of stops there was a 14 second gap that, in the end, Jani couldn’t overturn.

The rest of the P1 field had anything but an easy day, with the other two Porsches being shuffled back due to penalties from a bizarre off track excursion and recurring brake issues respectively.

The #17, at the hands of Bernhard, Webber and Hartley managed to get back up to speed and take third on the podium, however. The #9 Audi was best of the rest ahead of the #2 Toyota, the Japanese marque having had an unimpressive weekend to be forgotten.

The ever expanding LMP1 field was rounded out by the #8 Audi and #1 Toyota, with the privateer ByKolles CLM only managing to complete 46 laps before being wheeled back into the garage.

LMP2 saw another starring performance from the guesting ELMS stalwarts and 2014 Le Mans class winners JOTA Sport. Piloted by Harry Tincknell, Simon Dolan and a debuting Mitch Evans, the newly christened Gibson 015S-Nissan finished the race a lap ahead of the rest of the pack.

The #28 of G-Drive Racing was the first of the full time WEC crew, taking full race winners points due to JOTA’s non-championship status. Team Sard Morand, in their first race after a dud start to the year, took third on the podium.

Fourth was the Oreca 05 of KCMG which had to start the race from the pit lane due to a technical infringement in qualifying. Reigning ELMS champions Signatech-Alpine were next ahead of the # 42 Strakka-Dome S103 and #35 Oak Racing Ligier.

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Extreme Speed Motorsports were forced to treat the race as more of a test session, having only taken delivery of one of their cars on Monday and not turned dry laps until Friday’s track running. The winners of the last round at Silverstone, the #26 G-Drive Nissan, suffered an engine failure after 124 laps.

GTE Pro was the usual thrilling ride with a battle that should have gone right down to the wire between the #51 AF Corse Ferrari and #99 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, were it not for a late race pit stop penalty for the Italian team that left them fourth.

This allowed the #92 and #91 Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSRs up into second and third, a result that not even the most avid team fans would have predicted at the start. The #97 and #95 Aston Martins finished fifth and sixth in class ahead of the #71 AF Corse.

The GTE Am crown was taken by Lamy, Dalla Lana and Lauda in the #98 Aston Martin, ahead of the #83 AF Corse and #72 SMP Racing Ferraris. An error-beset Dempsey Racing entry could only manage 5th behind the Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche and the finishers were rounded out by the #96 Aston and #55 AF Corse.

The Larbre Competition Corvette was running well until Kristian Poulsen had a moment out of Paul Frere, ending the race with rear right damage sustained in contact with the tyre wall.

The WEC field (plus a few others) will meet next at the greatest race in the world, the Le Mans 24 Hours.