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6 HOURS OF SPA: JOTA'S VICTORY AMID CONTROVERSY



The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps once again thrilled fans with an exciting and dramatic race. Despite the absence of the usual rain to complicate matters, the Ardennes circuit delivered pure spectacle. Between Full Course Yellows, safety cars, and a red flag, Porsche dominated, achieving a significant one-two finish. Unlike the race in Qatar, it was the Jota team's 963 LMDh that crossed the finish line first, followed by the sister car from the official Porsche Penske team. This victory marks a historic milestone for the British team, with Will Stevens and Callum Illot stepping in for Norman Nato, who was busy with Formula E in Berlin.


At the start of the race, it was the Proton Competition Porsche that drew attention. Julien Andlauer, starting third, overtook Alex Lynn's Cadillac by the sixth lap. After being overtaken, Lynn slowed down to conserve his tires. Determined, Andlauer set his sights on pole sitter Frederic Makowiecki, taking advantage of a lap pass by Takeshi Kimura's Lexus to overtake him at the Bus Stop.


The Ferraris, starting from the middle of the pack, climbed the ranks with impressive overtakes. Antonio Giovinazzi reached third place, followed by the AF Corse 499P driven by Robert Kubica. After a couple of Full Course Yellows due to debris on the track, the first major incident occurred midway through the second hour. Phil Hanson collided with René Rast's BMW at the Brussels corner, losing control of his Porsche and hitting Ahmad Al Harthy. A safety car was necessary to clear the vehicles and secure the track.


In the third hour, Michael Christensen made a critical error, losing control of his Porsche 963 LMDh and crashing into the wall at the exit of Blanchimont, resulting in another Full Course Yellow and forcing his retirement. At the restart, James Calado capitalized on a lap pass to overtake Neel Jani and take the lead, then handed the wheel of the Ferrari 499P to Alessandro Pier Guidi. Antonio Fuoco, taking over from Miguel Molina, began a furious comeback, overtaking Jani and positioning himself behind teammate Pier Guidi.


With less than two hours remaining, an incident halted the race. Earl Bamber, attempting to pass Jani, collided with Sean Gelael's BMW M4 GT3 on the Kemmel straight. The violent collision between the Cadillac V-Series.R and the Bavarian GT car nearly caused the LMDh to flip. The red flag was immediately displayed, but the damage to the barriers was significant and the clock kept ticking. Amid controversy, race officials decided to extend the race by an hour and forty-four minutes. The competition resumed behind the safety car, with several teams forced to pit stops except for the Jota and Penske Porsches. Illot, having refueled just before the red flag, found himself leading, followed by Kevin Estre. The Jota team's mechanics completed the job, allowing Illot to cross the finish line first, followed by the trio of Estre, Lotterer, and Vanthoor, over twelve seconds behind.


Rounding out the podium was the Ferrari 499P of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, and Nicklas Nielsen, who fought hard to close the gap with the Porsches. The Ferrari of Pier Guidi, Calado, and Giovinazzi also battled intensely with the Toyotas, with the 2023 Le Mans winners finishing fourth, ahead of the GR010 Hybrid driven by Hartley, Hirakawa, and Buemi, who was penalized with a drive-through for overboost. The other Toyota of Conway, Kobayashi, and De Vries finished ahead of the AF Corse Ferrari 499P.


Completing the points positions was the Alpine of Charles Milesi, Jules Gounon, and Paul-Loup Chatin, showing competitiveness on the Ardennes' undulating terrain, ahead of the Peugeot 9X8 of Mikkel Jensen and Nico Müller. The Isotta Fraschini Tipo 6 LMH, continuing to improve, finished fifteenth overall, while Lamborghini was forced to retire due to a rear suspension issue.


In LMGT3, Porsche achieved a double victory in an exciting finish. The Manthey team's 911, driven by Yasser Shain, Morris Schuring, and Richard Lietz, won, followed by teammates Alex Malykhin, Joel Sturm, and Klaus Bachler. The Lamborghini Iron Lynx team came close to victory with Claudio Schiavoni, Matteo Cressoni, and Franck Perera, but a pit stop on the last lap relegated the crew to third place.


The Iron Dames team of Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey, and Michelle Gatting, who had dominated much of the race, finished fourth. A slow pit stop and a rear-end collision by Kobayashi slowed their progress. Fifth place went to James Cottingham, Nicolas Costa, and Gregoire Saucy of McLaren United Autosports, who outpaced the Ferrari 296 GT3 driven by Davide Rigon, Francesco Castellacci, and Thomas Flohr.




© Cavalieri Garage & Co.

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