With a little over half of the six-hours run under green flag conditions, this year’s TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps was a red flag interrupted race with a GTE sprint race at the end.
The No. 7 Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez claimed victory overall from the No. 36 Alpine Elf Team Hypercar of Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxiviere by 27.473 seconds. Third overall was the No 31 LMP2 Team WRT car of Sean Gelael, Robin Frijns and Rene Rast.
The action started at the first corner with the No. 92 Porsche driven by Kevin Estre out braking himself and causing contact between himself and his team mate Gianmaria Bruni and pole sitter in class. The No. 91 sustained damage to a wheel causing a puncture, Bruni had to navigate the entire track before making it back to the pits. There was also drama at La Source with Christina Neilsen being helped into the new gravel trap, causing the first safety car of the day. This allowed Bruni to limp the No. 91 back to the pits, however a mistake by the crew meant they had to remove the full set of tyres they had put on as under SC rules they could only make emergency repairs.
As we went back to green the No. 33 TF Sport of Ben Keating and No. 98 Northwest AMR of Paul Dalla Lana were engaged in door to door battles around the circuit in the GTE-Am class.
The battles for track position continued throughout the field with Sean Gelael in the No. 31 WRT and Lorenzo Columbo in the No. 9 Prema Orlen Team fighting over 2nd position in class both on track and during the first round of pit stops.
Around 1 hour into the race, race director Eduardo Freitas classed the track as being wet and cars were to use their rain lights, this also meant that teams could now use the wet tyres.
Only 10 minutes later we saw the No. 44 ARC Bratislava of Miroslav Konopka go wide into the gravel at turn 13 before crossing the track and hitting hard into the tyre wall, narrowly missing the Toyota of Mike Conway. Initially the safety car was deployed, but ultimately a red flag was thrown to allow the now stranded LMP2 to be recovered for the centre of the track.
Light rain was felt as the car waiting on the start / finish straight to resume, with 10 minutes till the restart the call came from race direction that teams could change tyres to wets if they wanted.
Drama then started to unfold for the No. 8 Toyota with Sébastien Buemi onboard, we hear on the team radio that Buemi was not sure if the car had restarted correctly and wanted an engineer to check. But as the Porsche Safety Car pulled away, Buemi’s Toyota at the head of the field refused to move. The car seemed to recycle its systems before pulling away, but later on the first lap it stopped out on track before re-joining. Ultimately the Buemi was told to stop the car as the hybrid system was ‘Red’ meaning there was a dangerous fault with the Hybrid system. As the safety car now continued due to the stranded No. 8, 2 Toyota engineers were dispatched to the scene to make the car safe for recovery.
During the prolonged safety car period the rain started to get worse, and eventually with 4 hours remaining we saw a second red flag, this lasted for around half an hour. As we again got back to green Alex Brundle in the No. 34 Inter Europol car aquaplaned on the new T9 motorcycle track water runoff, this his very first lap of the whole weekend. A further safety car period ensued, followed by – yes you guessed it another red flag after several car left the track behind the safety car due to the sheer amount of rain which was falling.
With around 2 hours remaining we went back to racing, and as the track started to dry we saw several battles emerging, namely in the LMP2 and GTE fields. In GTE-Pro the No. 92 Porsche spent the closing laps of the race battling to gain the lead of the class from James Clado in the No. 51 with the No.52 Ferrari keeping a close eye on proceedings – these 3 cars would end the race just 1.7 seconds apart.
During a pit stop the No. 23 United Autosports driver’s door refused to open causing the driver change to take place on the ‘wrong side’ – this may later cause an exclusion to the car, we will have to see what the stewards decide later.
So to round up the results for you, the full results can be found at the bottom of the page - these are provisional.
1, No. 7 Toyota
2, No. 36 Alpine
3, No. 708 Glickenhaus
1, No. 31 WRT
2, No. 41 WRT
3, No. 38 Jota
1, No. 51 AF Corse
2, No. 92 Porsche
3, No. 52 AF Corse
1, No. 77 Dempsey Proton
2, No. 33 TF Sport
3, No. 98 Northwest AMR