Walkenhorst BMW wins 2018 Spa 24 Hours after tight late battle

The Walkenhorst BMW driven by Philipp Eng, Tom Blomqvist and Christian Krognes came out on top in a tight late-race battle to win the Spa 24 Hours

Walkenhorst BMW wins 2018 Spa 24 Hours after tight late battle

The Nurburgring-Nordschleife specialist, which was fielding a pro class car in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup for the first time this season, took the German manufacturer's third victory in four years in the classic Belgian event after prevailing over fellow BMW team Rowe Motorsport.

Nicky Catsburg, who shared the #99 Rowe M6 GT3 with Alexander Sims and Jens Klingmann, closed down on Eng at the start of the third hour, before the BMW DTM driver was able to pull away into a 15 seconds lead before the next round of pits

The gap between the two BMW M6s was 20s before the final stops, after which Sims came out with only half that deficit.

Rowe saved time by taking its final joker pitstop — which can be shorter than the regular 1m52s minimum — but the British driver was unable to make a further dent in the Eng's advantage.

Blomqvist said: "We're just a tiny privateer team who races around the Nordschleife; we put a pro car in and have gone and won the thing."

Sims had been under pressure from Frederic Vervisch in the third-placed Sainteloc Audi R8 LMS early in the final hour before a slow lap from last year's winners put paid to its hopes as the Audi appeared to splutter out of fuel on its in-lap.

The seconds lost dropped the Sainteloc factory entry, in which Vervisch was joined by 2017 winners Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Haase, behind the Land Motorsport Audi in the final order.

Brothers Kelvin and Sheldon van der Linde and Jeffrey Schmidt had been in with a shout of victory until losing time with time penalty at its penultimate stop for a track limits infringement.

Fifth place went to the best of the Mercedes-AMG GT3s, the factory Black Falcon entry driven by Yelmer Buurman, Maro Engel and Luca Stolz.

They lost any realistic chance of the podium when the car pitted under green flag conditions just before all their rivals took their stops under a full course yellow minutes later with three hours to go.

The Auto Sport Promotion Merc squad took sixth place, one lap behind, with Raffaele Marciello, Daniel Juncadella and Tristan Vautier.

Nissan took seventh with the RJN Motorsport-run GT-R NISMO GT3 driven by Alex Buncombe, Lucas Ordonez and Matt Parry.

The best of the factory WRT Audis, the #2 car shared by Rene Rast, Robin Frijns and Nico Muller, was two laps down in eighth.

The sister car, which Dries Vanthoor had qualified on pole position before being excluded for a technical infraction, retired in the final hours with an overheating problem.

The R-Motorsport Aston Martin squad took ninth with the V12 Vantage driven by Nicki Thiim, Jake Dennis and Matthieu Vaxiviere, despite two brake changes and multiple punctures.

Bentley again missed out on Spa victory after having the pace to win with the new-for-2018 second-generation Continental GT3.

The #8 factory M-Sport entry driven by Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet and Vincent Abril was in contention until a clash with an amateur class Ferrari shortly after the one-quarter distance.

The car retired on Sunday morning shortly after undergoing lengthy repairs after an on-track clash involving the Team75 Bernhard Porsche.

The sister Bentley came from the back after problems in qualifying to run in the top three in the hands of Steven Kane, Jules Gounon and Jordan Pepper until a holed radiator and problems with the right rear corner dropped the car to an eventual 25th place.

Race result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 P.Eng, T.Blomqvist, C.Krognes Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW 511 24h01m34.979s
2 J.Klingmann, N.Catsburg, A.Sims Rowe Racing BMW 511 10.408s
3 K.van der Linde, S.van der Linde, J.Schmidt Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi 511 37.941s
4 M.Winkelhock, C.Haase, F.Vervisch Audi Sport Team Sainteloc Audi 511 53.645s
5 M.Engel, Y.Buurman, L.Stolz Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon Mercedes 511 1m17.916s
6 R.Marciello, T.Vautier, D.Juncadella Mercedes-AMG Team Akka ASP Mercedes 510 1 Lap
7 L.Ordonez, A.Buncombe, M.Parry GT Sport Motul Team RJN Nissan 510 1 Lap
8 R.Frijns, N.Muller, R.Rast Audi Sport Team WRT Audi 509 2 Laps
9 M.Vaxiviere, J.Dennis, N.Thiim R-Motorsport Aston Martin 508 3 Laps
10 M.Aleshin, M.Molina, D.Rigon SMP Racing Ferrari 508 3 Laps
11 M.Buhk, M.Gotz, A.Parente Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing Mercedes 508 3 Laps
12 G.Paffett, E.Mortara, R.van der Zande Mercedes-AMG Team Mann-Filter Mercedes 507 4 Laps
13 C.Klien, A.Costa, M.Seefried Emil Frey Lexus Racing Lexus/Toyota 507 4 Laps
14 E.P.Companc, R.Giammaria, M.Mapelli GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini 506 5 Laps
15 A.Mattschull, R.Salikhov, D.Perel, D.Keilwitz Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 506 5 Laps
16 V.Petrov, D.Bulatov, M.Meadows SMP Racing by AKKA ASP Mercedes 505 6 Laps
17 N.Leventis, C.Buncombe, L.Williamson, D.Fumanelli Strakka Racing Mercedes 504 7 Laps
18 A.Frassineti, A.Rizzoli, R.Monti, K.Ling Ombra Racing Lamborghini 504 7 Laps
19 M.Beretta, M.Kodric, S.Mitchell, R.Breukers Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini 504 7 Laps
20 K.Habul, M.Konrad, B.Schneider, T.Jager Sun Energy 1 Team HTP Motorsport Mercedes 503 8 Laps
21 D.Cameron, R.Mastronardi, M.Griffin, A.Scott AF Corse Ferrari 503 8 Laps
22 C.Ledogar, B.Barnicoat, O.Pla Garage 59 McLaren 503 8 Laps
23 H.Haupt, G.Piana, A.Al Faisal, M.Metzger Black Falcon Mercedes 501 10 Laps
24 P.Kaffer, K-L.Schramm, C.Schmid Attempto Racing Audi 501 10 Laps
25 S.Kane, J.Pepper, J.Gounon Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley 499 12 Laps
26 N.Hommerson, L.Machiels, A.Bertolini, M.Cioci AF Corse Ferrari 499 12 Laps
27 L.Machitski, A.Amstutz, R.Abra, P.Kujala Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini 496 15 Laps
28 A.Fontana, A.Zaugg, M.Grenier Emil Frey Jaguar Racing Jaguar 496 15 Laps
29 R.Dumas, F.Makowiecki, D.Werner Manthey Racing Porsche 493 18 Laps
30 S.Costantini, A.Di Folco, S.Debs, B.Delhez Target Racing Lamborghini 491 20 Laps
31 K.Lendoudis, S.Al-Faisal, R.Aguas, T.O.-Cole Black Falcon Mercedes 490 21 Laps
32 R.Patrese, L.Depailler, B.Baguette, E.Guerrieri Castrol Honda Racing Acura/Honda 490 21 Laps
33 S.Yoluc, D.Burke, E.Hankey, F.Rosenqvist RAM Racing Mercedes 489 22 Laps
34 R.Yoon, P.Ehret, M.Sultanov, N.Boulle Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 23 Laps
35 D.Baumann, M.Kirchhofer, M.Martin R-Motorsport Aston Martin 485 26 Laps
36 G.Teo, D.Tjiptobiantoro, C.Colombo, M.Cressoni T2 Motorsport Ferrari 482 29 Laps
37 S.Moore, R.Sanchez, J.Witt, S.Walkinshaw GT Sport Motul Team RJN Nissan 482 29 Laps
38 H.Walkenhorst, R.Oeverhaus, A.Buchardt, I.Vinke Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW 478 33 Laps
39 J.Haring, E.L.Brauner, W.Triller, A.Renauer Herberth Motorsport Porsche 475 36 Laps
40 A.Riberas, C.Mies, D.Vanthoor Audi Sport Team WRT Audi 456 55 Laps
41 T.Pappas, J.Bleekemolen, M.Lieb, M.Miller Black Swan Racing Porsche 447 64 Laps
42 A.West, C.Goodwin, C.Harris, A.Watson Garage 59 McLaren 391 120 Laps
43 P-Y.Paque, G.Paisse, B.Wilwert, G.Petit Speedlover Porsche 390 121 Laps
44 P.Schothorst, S.Schothorst, J.Green Attempto Racing Audi 384 127 Laps
45 T.Verbergt, K.Wauters, S.Dejonghe, N.Van Dierendonck Brussels Racing Aston Martin 376 135 Laps
46 J.Perez, G.Giraudi, L.Spinelli, G.Altoe Antonelli Motorsport Lamborghini 374 137 Laps
47 A.Haryanto, A.Josephsohn, B.Caccia, S.Bovy GDL Racing Lamborghini 364 147 Laps
- T.Bernhard, E.Bamber, L.Vanthoor KUS TEAM75 Bernhard Porsche 353 Retirement
- A.Soucek, M.Soulet, V.Abril Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley 349 Retirement
- N.Rogivue, L.Hezemans, P.Frommenwiler, T.Dauenhauer Aust Motorsport Audi 342 Retirement
- R.Ineichen, P.Keen, F.Perera GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini 311 Retirement
- J.Manchester, N.Bastian, J.Szymkowiak, F.Schiller Akka ASP Team Mercedes 261 Retirement
- S.Heyrowsky, T.Muller, J-L.Jasper, J.Krebs Attempto Racing Lamborghini 227 Retirement
- S.Ortelli, N.Siedler, M.Palttala Emil Frey Racing Lexus/Toyota 196 Retirement
- S.Morris, D.Pierce, R.Smith, A.Meyrick Team Parker Racing Bentley 195 Retirement
- M.Wittmann, J.Krohn, R.Collard Rowe Racing BMW 194 Retirement
- A.Santamato, F.Crestani, S.Gattuso, N.Pohler Daiko Lazarus Racing Lamborghini 135 Retirement
- R.Barrichello, F.Fraga, C.Vietoris Strakka Racing Mercedes 117 Retirement
- M.Bortolotti, C.Engelhart, A.Caldarelli GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini 113 Retirement
- S.Leonard, M.Fassler, D.Serra Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi 93 Retirement
- A.Al Harthy, C.Eastwood, E.McKay, R.Gunn Oman Racing Team with TF Sport Aston Martin 72 Retirement
- E.Debard, P.Giauque, F.Barthez, N.Jamin Akka ASP Team Mercedes 43 Retirement
- N.Stievenart, M.Rostan, S.Gachet, C.Kelders Sainteloc Racing Audi 39 Retirement

Spa 24 Hours: Sainteloc Audi leads at three-quarters distance

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Series GT
Author Gary Watkins
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