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6-hour report: Sorensen leads for ComToYou Aston Martin

Text: Rick Kiewiet

Images: SRO

The 24 hours of Spa is well underway, and we’re currently working our way into the night. After a somewhat awkward safety car phase (see below), Sorensen leads in the #007 ComToYou Aston Martin, followed by Maxi Götz in the #9 Boutsen VDS Mercedes. Klaus Bachler in the #911 PurX Racing Porsche is third. It appeared to start raining a couple of minutes ago, but now, it seems to get dry again.


 From the start, Franck Perera in the #163 GRT Lamborghini took the lead and had to fight off Lucas Auer in the #48 Mann-Filter Mercedes. He managed about 25 minutes, after which Auer squeezed his yellow-green AMG past. Just over half of the first hour of the race, the first FCY sparked the first round of stops. Auer kept the lead, ahead of Davide Rigon in the #51 Ferrari and Luca Stolz in the #2 GetSpeed Mercedes. Perera dropped to 4th after an issue with the fuel hose costs him about 15 seconds extra.


In the second hour, Lucas Auer picked up a puncture on the rear left. Limping back to the pits and handing the car over to Maro Engel dropped the car to p59, but, crucially, still in the lead lap. Rigon in the #51 Ferrari was now in the lead, just ahead of the #2 Mercedes and Gold Class leader the #25 Sainteloc Audi. The #88 Tresor Audi and the #34 Walkenhorst Aston Martin, which made a significant gain in the first two hours of the race, were 4th and 5th.


During the next pit cycle the #48, out of sync, recovered to 12th, just behind the #163 Lamborghini of Caldarelli. Some banging and rubbing in the hairpin La Source send both cars into the gravel but both could continue.


Quite a frightening incident happened around 19h, when the #333 Ferrari with Chris Hook behind the wheel, suddenly lost speed and stopped on track on the straight heading towards Eau Rouge. He had made contact with the #12 ComToYou Aston which brought his Ferrari to a halt in the middle of the racing line. Most drivers could take evasive action on time, except for the #61 EBM Porsche, in which Adrian D’Silva collected the Ferrari at almost full speed, sending the #333 into wall and catching fire. A replay was not shown but around 21.00 came the message that the drivers were OK.


The next hours, frequently interrupted by several FCY’s and Safety Cars, saw a couple of cars move up through the field. Around 21.30h, in the lead group were still the #2 Mercedes and #51 Ferrari, but their drivers Gounon (#2) and Rigon (#51) were now 3rd and 5th respectively. In the lead was Marco Sorensen in the #007 ComToYou Aston Martin who’d just overtook Valentino Rossi in the #46 WRT BMW. The BMW made an impressive move through the field, being almost at the back of the field in the early hours of the race. The #007’s advance was no less impressive, the car was brought to the front of the field by Thiim and Drudi, who already led shortly by the end of the 4th hour. Behind Gounon was Sheldon van der Linde in the other WRT BMW, the #32, followed by Rigon and Maxi Götz in the #9 Boutsen VDS Mercedes.


By this time, we’d already seen a drop of rain every now and then, and the threat of rain became more and more imminent as the sun disappeared behind the horizon.


Shortly after Sorensen taking the lead from Rossi, Jules Gounon (#2), Van der Linde (#32) and Rigon (#51) also got past the #46 BMW, leaving the MotoGP legend in 5th. While plowing through some back markers, as drops started to fall again, Rossi drove into Rigon at the Bus stop chicane, dropping the Ferrari to p9.

At 21:45h, yet another FCY was called to recover the #88 Tresor Audi and around 22.00h we saw the next round of pits stops. During this cycle, we saw a couple of cars gambling and switch to rain tires, most notably the #46 BMW of Rossi.

After the stops and now under Safety Car, Sorensen was in the lead in the #007 Aston. Luca Stolz in the #2 Mercedes was 2nd. In 3rd was Gold Cup leader Williamson in the #60 Mercedes. Strange things happened at WRT. Initially, Rossi was 5th in the #46 BMW, but just before the safety car released the field, he came back in to switch back to slicks, dropping him to p24. At the same time, Martin Konrad in the #888 Mercedes, who got a wave by under the safety car to make his way back to the lead lap, went off and even flipped his car upside down, extending the safety car yet again. Right after Konrad's incident, the #32 WRT of van der Linde came in to switch to rain tires, followed by Stolz and Williamson! Van der Linde rejoined in p21 and Stolz in p25.

Then, racing resumed two minutes before the 6-hour mark and it was now getting wet. Sorensen crossed the line first followed by Götz in the #9 Mercedes. Ricardo Feller in the #99 Tresor Audi made his way up to 3rd, followed by Froggatt in the #93 Sky-Tempesta Ferrari from the Bronze class. Davide Rigon in the #51 Ferrari completed the top-5, followed by Evans in the #23 Porsche and Augusto Farfus in the #998 ROWE BMW. Klaus Bachler in the #911 PurX Racing Porsche was on rain tires and then quickly climbed up, currently running third.


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