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Spa 24 Hours: WRT Audi leads as shunts mar opening three hours

Spa 24 Hours start

The Spa 24 Hours has been interrupted by a run of four safety-car periods before the race reached the three-hour mark.

The race was neutralised behind two safety cars in the second hour when Russian driver Vyacheslav Maleev crashed heavily at Eau Rouge in his SMP/Russian Bears Ferrari 458 Italia.

The race went green after three laps, only for Tim Mullen to crash the VonRyan Racing McLaren MP4-12C at the first left-hand kink at Blanchimont after his group was released one corner before at Stavelot.

The six-lap safety car period was immediately followed by another major incident when Karim Ojjeh crashed his Boutsen McLaren at Eau Rouge, causing the race to be neutralised for a third time in less than an hour.

This period lasted three laps before the green flag, which was followed by a multi-car accident at Eau Rouge.

The incident involved Andrew Howard in the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage, Andrew Danyliw in a AF Corse Ferrari, German driver Tim Muller in a Rinaldi Ferrari and Alex Demirdjian in the second of the Boutsen McLarens.

Maleev and Ojjeh were able to extricate themselves from their cars unaided.

Mullen and Howard, who were both conscious after their accidents, were taken to the circuit medical centre and then onto hospital for tests.

The race was led two hours and 45 minutes into the race by the #3 WRT Audi R8 LMS driven by Frank Stippler from Rene Rast in the team's #1 car.

The #3 car moved into the lead when the leading runners made their stops during the second of the four safety cars.

The #1 Audi (pictured above) made the early running in pole winner Laurens Vanthoor's hands.

Leading positions after 2h45m:

Pos Cl  Drivers                          Team/Car              Time/Gap
1.  PRO Miles/Stippler/Nash              WRT Audi               63 laps
2.  PRO Vanthoor/Winkelhock/Rast         WRT Audi               +6.837s
3.  PRO Ortelli/Sandstrom/Guilvert       Sainteloc Audi        +10.126s
4.  PRO Fassler/Lotterer/Treluer         WRT Audi            +1m22.031s
5.  PRO Buhk/Gotz/Jaafar                 HTP Mercedes        +1m32.656s
6.  PRO Smith/Meyrick/Kane               Marc VDS BMW        +1m39.064s
7.  PRO Schneider/Primat/Verdonck        HTP Mercedes        +1m39.788s
8.  PAM Barthez/Debard/Bade/Vautier      Sofrev/ASP Ferrari      -1 lap
9.  PAM Abra/Poole/Turner/Osborne        MP Aston Martin         -1 lap
10. GTR Mann/Talkanista/Guedes/Mezard    AF Ferrari              -1 lap
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