Spa 24 Hours Blancpain GT: Rowe BMW wins after long Bentley battle

BMW claimed a second consecutive Spa 24 Hours victory after a thrilling battle with Bentley that lasted much of the race

Spa 24 Hours Blancpain GT: Rowe BMW wins after long Bentley battle

Rowe Racing trio Alexander Sims, Philipp Eng and Maxime Martin took victory aboard their BMW M6 GT3 at the end of a race interrupted by 15 full course yellows, three safety cars and two periods of wet running.

The factory-backed team followed up on the Marc VDS squad's victory last year with the Z4 GT3 and gave BMW its 23rd overall win in the Spa enduro.

Rowe triumphed by just under two minutes from the Auto Sport Promotion Mercedes-AMG GT3 in a confused finish to the double-points round of the Blancpain GT Series that followed a heavy shower in the closing stages.

The Mercedes shared by Felix Rosenqvist, Renger van der Zande and Tristan Vautier ended up just over five seconds up on the WRT Audi R8 LMS of Laurens Vanthoor, Rene Rast and Nico Muller.

The BMW had come out on top of a thrilling battle with the best of the M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3s with three hours to go and was approximately two minutes clear when the rain returned with half an hour left.

Eng said: "It's pure relief that it is over.

"We had good luck in the yellows and bad luck in the yellows, and to be here on top is amazing."

Martin, who finally emulated his father Jean-Michel and uncle Philippe by winning Spa, described the triumph as "just the best victory".

Rosenqvist hung onto to second after a late challenge from Vanthoor when the race went green for the final 15 minutes.

The Audi driver got within two seconds of the Mercedes, but ultimately fell short in his bid to take the runner-up spot.

Both cars suffered major delays during the race.

The ASP works entry was one of six Mercedes to be awarded a five-minute stop-and-go penalty for running illegal ignition mapping in qualifying.

The Audi lost time to repairs in the sixth hour and then had its fightback blunted in the final stages by a puncture and a drivethrough penalty.

The M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 ended up only fourth in the hands of Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet and Wolfgang Reip after losing time in the final, confused round of pitstops.

The second Mercedes, the HTP Motorsport car shared by Gary Paffett, Maximilian Gotz and Thomas Jager, lost third with a drivethrough following an unsafe release in the final round of stops.

It ended up fifth ahead of the sister car driven by Maximilian Buhk, Jazeman Jaafar and Dominik Baumann.

Honours in the pro-am class went to the Imsa Performance Porsche 911 GT3-R driven by Patrick Pilet, Maxime Jousse, Thierry Comac and team owner Raymond Narac.

They were a lap up at the finish on the ISR Audi shared by Frank Perera, Nicolas Lapierre, Henry Hassid and Philippe Giauque.

RESULTS - 531 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 M.Martin, P.Eng, A.Sims Rowe Racing BMW 24h02m18.980s
2 T.Vautier, R.van der Zande, F.Rosenqvist AMG - Team AKKA ASP Mercedes 1m55.408s
3 L.Vanthoor, R.Rast, N.Muller Audi Sport Team WRT Audi 2m00.586s
4 A.Soucek, W.Reip, M.Soulet Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley 1 Lap
5 T.Jager, M.Gotz, G.Paffett AMG - Team HTP Motorsport Mercedes 1 Lap
6 D.Baumann, J.Jaafar, M.Buhk AMG - Team HTP Motorsport Mercedes 2 Laps
7 G.Guilvert, M.Parisy, C.Haase Sainteloc Audi 4 Laps
8 A.De Leener, B.Baguette, P.Kaffer Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi 4 Laps
9 M.Stockinger, F.Salaquarda, E.Mortara ISR Audi 4 Laps
10 M.Jousse, T.Cornac, R.Narac, P.Pilet IMSA Performance Porsche 4 Laps
11 R.Ineichen, J.Bleekemolen, M.Bortolotti GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini 4 Laps
12 R.Baptista, S.Jimenez, F.Albuquerque Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi 5 Laps
13 P.Giauque, H.Hassid, F.Perera, N.Lapierre ISR Audi 5 Laps
14 F.Babini, P.Niederhauser, D.Zampieri Attempto Racing Lamborghini 5 Laps
15 M.Beretta, A.Piccini, L.Stolz GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini 6 Laps
16 P.Lathouras, M.Rugolo, A.P.Guidi AF Corse Ferrari 7 Laps
17 P.Keen, J.Minshaw, J.Osborne, O.Gavin Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini 7 Laps
18 G.Smith, V.Abril, S.Kane Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley 7 Laps
19 D.Perfetti, L.Cazenave, M.Lyons, M.M.Traffort Akka ASP Team Mercedes 8 Laps
20 B.Schneider, M.Engel, Y.Buurman AMG - Team Black Falcon Mercedes 8 Laps
21 L.Bacheta, I.Dontje, C.Schmid HTP Motorsport Mercedes 9 Laps
22 M.Broniszewski, A.Bonacini, A.Rizzoli, G.Piccini Kessel Racing Ferrari 10 Laps
23 J.Pisarik, J.Kral, D.Fumanelli, M.Malucelli Scuderia Praha Ferrari 12 Laps
24 A.Al Harthy, D.Modell, J.Adam, D.Turner Oman Racing Team Aston Martin 13 Laps
25 L.Machitski, M.Attard, M.Mapelli, T.K.-Smith Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini 14 Laps
26 M.Toril, O.Morley, A.Al Faisal, D.Juncadella Black Falcon Mercedes 15 Laps
27 E.P.Companc, R.Giammaria, A.Balzan AF Corse Ferrari 16 Laps
28 M.Cerruti, L.Spinelli, G.Vannelet, C.Sbirrazzuoli Antonelli Motorsport Lamborghini 17 Laps
29 W.Stevens, D.Vanthoor, F.Vervisch Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi 17 Laps
30 C.Zochling, J.Gounon, L.Rettenbacher, R.Breukers Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini 18 Laps
31 S.Gisbergen, C.Ledogar, R.Bell Garage 59 McLaren 18 Laps
32 M.Zanuttini, V.Gitlin, L.Talbot, N.Cadei Kessel Racing Ferrari 18 Laps
33 H.Haupt, A.Simonsen, A.Christodoulou Black Falcon Mercedes 19 Laps
34 P.Mann, F.Guedes, R.Mastronardi, M.Cressoni AF Corse Ferrari 19 Laps
35 R.Lago, S.Owen, D.Russell, J.Webb Lago Racing Lamborghini 22 Laps
36 R.Salikhov, P.Ehret, A.Mattschull, M.Seefried Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 25 Laps
37 M.Simmons, R.Sarazin, S.Walkinshaw, R.Sanchez Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan 25 Laps
38 F.Geri, D.Mancinelli, G.Romanelli, N.Schiro Easy race Ferrari 26 Laps
39 M.Konopka, A.Lewandowski, T.Myszkowski, Z.Mikulasko ARC Bratislava Lamborghini 29 Laps
40 B.Senna, D.Tappy, P.Derani Garage 59 McLaren 31 Laps
41 N.Catsburg, S.Dusseldorp, D.Werner Rowe Racing BMW 34 Laps
42 N.Pohler, D.Alessi, A.Fjordbach, D.Andersen GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini 43 Laps
43 C.Kelders, M.Rostan, M.Bonanomi, F.Bouvy Sainteloc Audi 47 Laps
44 L.Ordonez, M.Takaboshi, A.Buncombe Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan 50 Laps
45 S.Costantini, G.Berton, M.Beretta, S.Gattuso Ombra Racing Lamborghini 51 Laps
46 D.Cameron, A.Scott, M.Griffin, R.Ragazzi AF Corse Ferrari 60 Laps
47 F.Notari, J-M.Bachelier, Y.Mallegol, H.Blank Porsche 61 Laps
48 R.Philippe, W.Meulders, G.Paisse, P-Y.Paque Speedlover Porsche 63 Laps
49 M.Palttala, J.Hirschi, C.Klien Emil Frey Racing Jaguar 85 Laps
50 C.Mies, F.Stippler, M.Winkelhock Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi 106 Laps
51 M.Blanchemain, G.Lallement, V.H.-Clot, J-P.Buffin Sainteloc Audi 107 Laps
52 M.van Splunteren, L.Machiels, J.Mul, G.Venturini Attempto Racing Lamborghini 116 Laps
53 L.Frey, S.Ortelli, A.Costa Emil Frey Racing Jaguar 123 Laps
54 C.Harris, D.Pierce, C.Rosenblad, D.Perel Team Parker Racing Bentley 155 Laps
- M.Cioci, F.Castellacci, P.Perazzini, T.Flohr AT Racing Ferrari Retirement
- S.Leonard, M.Meadows, R.Frijns Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi Retirement
- K.Ojjeh, J.Darras, O.Grotz, A.Santamato Boutsen Ginion Racing BMW Retirement
- A.Moiseev, S.Lemeret, D.Rizzo, R.Aguas Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari Retirement
- R.Brandela, T.Buret, M.Petit, B.Delhez Classic & Modern Racing Ferrari Retirement
- E.Mouez, D.Loger, T.Nicolle, S.Debs Classic & Modern Racing Ferrari Retirement
- S.Moore, A.Fontana, A.Watson Garage 59 McLaren Retirement
- T.O.-Cole, I.Loggie, C.MacLeod, A.Meyrick Team Parker Racing Bentley Retirement
- M.Koebolt, G.Roda, S.Colombo, M.Tomczyk BMW Team Italia BMW Retirement
- C.Mateu, J.Haring, N.Armindo, K.Estre Attempto Racing Porsche Retirement
- M.Ishikawa, L.Bontempelli, G.Fisichella, O.Beretta AF Corse Ferrari Retirement

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Spa 24 Hours: BMW leads Bentley into final quarter of the race

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