Audi’s dominance of 24 hour endurance racing has continued with Frank Stippler (DEU), Rene Rast (DEU) and Andrea Piccini (ITA) winning the Spa 24 hour race in Belgium.
Audi finished one-two in the classic race after a commanding performance throughout.
The win marks the first time that an automobile manufacturer has won the three most important 24-hour races in Europe: Nürburgring (D), Le Mans (F) and now Spa-Francorchamps (B).
66 cars from twelve different marques competed at the 54th running of the race on the Grand Prix circuit in the Belgian Ardennes. After 509 laps on the 7.004-kilometre track the two Audi R8 LMS ultra cars prevailed against their competition from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren and company.
“Winning three 24-hour races within just 71 days is another milestone in the successful motorsport history of our company,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich after the historic triumph. “The field at Spa was unique and enormously competitive. There were more than 20 vehicles in contention for victory. In the end, the combination of quality, reliability and speed for which Audi is known prevailed yet again. Everybody who was involved in achieving this historic triple can be proud - first and foremost of course our teams and drivers, but naturally all of our employees in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and Biberach as well.”
In the dramatic final hour of the race, there was catastrophe for the No.72 Kessel Racing Ferrari, which crashed heavily into T17. The car rolled over but landed back on it’s wheels.
The safety car was deployed and Frank Stippler in the No.16 Audi visited the pits under the Safety Car. Stephane Ortelli (MCO) followed in the No.1 R8 but was held in the queue in the pit lane. Once released, Ortelli had half a lap to make up as he lost two and a half minutes in the queue.
Upon leaving the pits Stippler received a drive through penalty for crossing the white line at pit entry, a worrying mistake at this late stage. At the same time Frank Kechele (DEU) in the No.66 Vita4One BMW made one last stop and retained third place.
As the 20th minute concluded the 500th lap was completed and Ortelli had a lap lead over Stippler. Frank Kechele was is third in the Vita4One BMW No.66 and was ahead of Maxime Martin (BEL) in the Marc VDS BMW No.3.
In the final 15 minutes, No.24 Blancpain Reiter Lamborghini driven by Marc Hayek (CHE) left the track briefly resulting in a broken front splitter and smoke bellowing out of the right hand side of the car, sending him to the pits for a quick fix.
With only seven minutes to go the No.50 AF Corse Ferrari received a drive through penalty for overtaking before then end of the safety car procedure.
As the chequered flag dropped the Audi drove over the start/finish line proudly, well in the knowledge of a solid effort from the whole team. Taking second was the No.1 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 and in third the No.66 Vita4One BMW Z4 despite a puncture and a spin on the final lap.
The No.52 AF Corse Ferrari 458 came top in the PRO-AM class. The No. 25 First Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 R took the “Gentlemen” Racer class win and the No.94 Speedlover Porsche 997 GT3 R clinched the CUP Class win.
With Audi Motorsport and Blancpain Series Media Releases