8R18 a.a.16.05.07

Audi Sport Team Joest Take Victory In FIA WEC Thriller

The #8 Audi Sport Team Joest R18, driven by Lucas Di Grassi, Loïc Duval and Oliver Jarvis, took the chequered flag after a thrilling 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps which saw all three manufacturers take the lead over the course of the race.

In second place was the #2 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid driven by Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb. The #13 Rebellion Racing R-One AER, driven by Mathéo Tuchser, Dominik Kraihamer and Alexandre Imperatori took the final podium slot.

The LPM1 class was closely fought. Technical issues were widespread, however, across the class. The #5 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050-Hybrid gained an early advantage, only to lose the lead after three hours due to mechanical problem. The car then remained in the garage, only to return to complete one final lap under hybrid power in order to score championship points. The sister #6 Toyota, driven by Stéphane Sarazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi retired after four hours with electronics issues.

Despite its second place, Porsche also had a difficult day. The #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid, driven by Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard led at the start, only to suffer a series of punctures and a gearbox failure which meant the car had to be worked on in the garage for over 90 minutes, to emerge with just enough time to complete enough laps to gain points.

Rebellion Racing enjoyed what must have been a very satisfying result for the team. The #13 R-One-AER, driven by Mathéo Tuscher, Dominik Kraihamer and Alexandra Imperatori finished third, the best ever FIA World Endurance Championship finish for the Swiss-based team. The #12 sister car, driven by Nicolas Prost, Nelson Piquet Jr and Nick Heidfeld finished fourth, ensuring that then team took maximum LMP1 Privateer points from the race.

The result means that Porsche now lead the FIA World Endurance Championship with 54 points, followed by Toyota on 45 and Audi on 41. Lieb, Jani and Dumas lead the Drivers Championship with 43 points each.

LMP2 also witnessed close battles. The class was won by the #36 Signatech Alpine A460-Nissan driven by Gustavo Menezes, Nicolas Lapierre and Stéphane Richelmi. Second was the #31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 driven by Ryan Dalziel, Pipo Derani and Christopher Cumming. Taking the final podium spot was the #45 Manor Ligier JS P2 driven by Matt Rao, Richard Bradley and Roberto Mehri.

The early class lead was taken by the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 05 with René Rast at the wheel. However Nathanaël Berthon suffered a puncture which took the car out of contention and the race was subsequently fought over by Manor, Extreme Speed Motorsports, Signatech Alpine and RGR Motorsport By Morand. Lapierre, in the #36 Signatech Alpine, took the lead in the closing minutes of the race after a courageous pass on the #31 ESM car.

The result saw Manor take its first podium in the FIA World Endurance Championship. At one stage, however, Manor’s cars were running first and fourth in class so Manor must be taking a lot of positives away from Spa in preparation for Le Mans.

GTE Pro was won by the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE driven by Davide Rigon and Sam Bird. However it was the sister #51 car, driven by Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado that had led the class for the race, only to retire with ten minutes to go. Calado appeared to be very upset with the retirement.

Second place was taken by the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK Ford GT driven by Marino Franchitti, Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell, the team’s first podium in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Third place was taken by the #97 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage driven by Richie Stanaway, Fernando Rees and Jonny Adam, Adam being on a roll after winning in the British GT Championship at both Brands Hatch and Rockingham.

GTE Am saw three different manufacturers take the class podium. The winner was the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 driven by Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda. Second was the #83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 GTE driven by François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas while the #50 Larbre Competition Corvette C7-Z06 driven by Yukata Yamagishi, Pierre Ragues and Paolo Ruberti was third.

The race witnessed a concerning incident when the #95 Aston Martin, driven by Nicki Thiim, rolled after contact with the #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S driven by Simon Dolan. Thankfully no serious injuries were sustained by the Danish driver. A Full Course Yellow neutralised the race whilst the driver was attended to.

The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be the 24 Hours of Le Mans, held on June 18 and 19

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