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

BMW was on top in the Spa 24 Hours as the race hit three-quarter distance

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

The #99 Rowe Racing shared by Alexander Sims, Philipp Eng and Maxime Martin enjoyed a lead of 11 seconds over the #8 Bentley Continental GT3 of Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet and Wolfgang Reip after 401 laps of racing on the 18-hour mark.

The Rowe car had been on top after six hours, but the team opted to take its mandatory five-minute technical pitstop in the 11th hour during a prolonged safety car.

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That meant it was only fourth when the the second batch of Blancpain GT Series points were awarded, but it moved back up the order towards the front as its rivals made their five-minute stops.

The car moved back into the lead in the 16th hour when the factory Phoenix Audi R8 LMS came into the pits for its technical stop.

Soucek in the Bentley, which had been hit by three drivethrough penalties, was closing on Martin in the final stages of the 18th hour.

The Bentley gained time in the round of pitstops before the hour-mark and then Soulet was able to reduce a lead of just under 20s to just over 10s.

The Phoenix Audi with Mies at the wheel held third position a further half a minute behind.

The factory WRT Audi driven by Rene Rast, Laurens Vanthoor and Nico Muller had worked its way back up to fourth position, albeit one lap down, after losing time in the sixth hour after an incident with one of the Emil Frey Jaguars.

The second Rowe BMW shared by Nicky Catsburg, Dirk Werner and Stef Dusseldorp held fifth from the best of the factory Mercedes that had to take five-minute stop-go penalties in the opening stages of the race.

The Auto Sport Promotion team's lead Mercedes-AMG GT3 shared by Felix Rosenqvist, Tristan Vautier and van der Zande was just a handful of second up on the HTP Mercedes in which Gary Paffett is teamed with Maximilian Gotz and Thomas Jager.

The fastest of the Garage 59 Mclaren 650S GT3, which had run in the top 10 for much of the early going, lost time in the 11th hour after Come Ledogar had a coming together with a Lamborghini and lost 10 minutes to repairs.

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

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

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