Text & Images: Rick Kiewiet
A race where the main character was not a driver, nor a car or an incident, but the weather. From sunny, to snow in five minutes, back to sunny, to hail, to snow again, and that the whole afternoon... Typical weather for the Ardennes. The snow-shower that started half an hour before the end of the race meant the end: red flag. Toyota wins, but not the way they aimed for, a 1-2. Rebellion and SMP Racing completed the podium. Aston Martin took its second win of the season with local hero Maxime Martin, Dragonspeed took the honours in LMP2 and Dempsey-Proton took home another victory in GT Am.
Right from the start it was the Pole sitting no. 7 car which took the lead over the no. 8. Mid-race however the car suffered a sensor issue, forcing it to make a pitstop that lost the car 4 laps to the leader. The no. 8 didn't come under pressure from the other competitors and so Alonso, who was in the car at the fourth and final safety car phase of the day, could take the victory 14 minutes early when the race was red flagged. While SMP seemed to hold the best papers to take second place, it was the Rebellion no. 3 who won the battle for second, profiting from a later stop than the SMP no. 11. The no. 7 Toyota moved up to 6th place in the second part of the race, still scoring 8 points for the championship. The no. 8 squad heads to Le Mans, the Superseason finale, with a 31 point lead. In France, there are still 39 points up for grabs.
In LMP2, surprisingly the no. 31 Dragonspeed car with Pastor Maldonado, Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez took the win, after being in the midfield for the first three quarters of the race. Good choices and a bit of luck with the safety cars secured victory for the American team. The Pole winning G-Drive car had to settle for 2nd, championship leaders Signatec Alpine completed the podium.
Stars of the opening stages of the race, Racing Team Nederland in the only Dallara, couldn't hold on to their lead after the opening hour. After a blistering start of the race, where Giedo van der Garde could even bring the fight to some LMP1 cars in wet conditions, they had to settle for 6th in the end.
Maxime Martin managed to win his home race with team mate Alex Lynn in their no. 97 Aston Martin. The no. 51 Ferrari with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi took second, the no. 92 Porsche took third. Initially that place was won by the no. 91 Porsche, but it was handed a 17 second time penalty after causing a collision in the Bus-stop chicane. Quite remarkably, the whole field except for the no. 66 Porsche finished in the lead lap, showing again how close the GT Pro category is at the moment.
The Project 1 Racing Porsche 911 RSR didn't manage to take the title in GT Am. It even saw its closest pursuer, the no. 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari, gain a couple points, as it finished 4th, where the Porsche came in 5th. The battle for victory was between the no. 77 Proton Porsche and the Pole sitting no. 90 TF Sport Aston Martin. The fight was decided in the former's advantage in the last hour of the race, although at the finish they were only separated by just over 5 seconds. The podium was completed by the Clearwater Racing Ferrari, scoring its third podium of the season.