BMW leads Spa 24 Hours into night with Sims, Eng and Martin

BMW led the Spa 24 Hours at the six-hour mark with the Rowe Racing entry driven by Alexander Sims, Philipp Eng and Maxime Martin

BMW leads Spa 24 Hours into night with Sims, Eng and Martin

Sims held a 28-second lead over the factory Phoenix Audi with Christopher Mies at the wheel as the race hit one-quarter distance and the first batch of points were awarded for the blue-riband round of the Blancpain GT Series.

The Rowe BMW M6 GT3 established itself in the lead after making its fourth and fifth pitstops during a full course yellow virtual safety car and then a safety car.

Sims held a lead of just over six seconds when the race went green and was able to increase the gap to the Audi R8 LMS Mies shares with Marcus Winkelhock and Frank Stippler over the remainder of the sixth hour.

Third place was held by the best of the WRT Audis driven by Will Stevens.

The ex-Formula 1 driver was 34s down on Mies in the R8 LMS he is driving with Dries Vanthoor and Frederic Vervisch.

Andrea Piccini, a Spa winner in 2012, held fourth place in the Grasser Lamborghini Huracan GT3 he shares with Luca Stolz and Michele Beretta.

The #8 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 moved up to fifth after Wolfgang Reip overtook Pierre Kaffer in the #4 WRT Audi as the end of the hour approached.

The Bentley Reip shares with Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek was twice delayed by drivethrough penalties for pitstop and drive-time infringements.

Behind the Audi Kaffer is driving with late stand-in Bertrand Baguette and Adrian de Leener came the second of the factory Bentleys shared by Guy Smith, Steven Kane and Vincent Abril, which started from the pitlane after encountering fuelling issues.

The #58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3 was running eighth in the hands of Shane van Gisbergen and the top Mercedes-AMG GT3 was the Black Falcon entry driven by Adam Christodoulou in 12th.

The first of the Mercedes penalised after qualifying and forced to take a five-minute stop-go penalty during the opening 30 minutes of the race was the factory HTP Motorsport car with Maximilian Buhk at the wheel.

The German, who is partnered by Jazeman Jaafar and Dominik Baumann, was only a lap off the leader in 13th place.

The #28 factory WRT Audi that started from pole after the Mercedes were penalised lost time in the pits during hour six when Rene Rast sustained damage following contact with Jonathan Hirschi's Emil Frey Jaguar.

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