WRT Audi wins Spa 24 Hours

Audi claimed its first outright victory in the Spa 24 Hours after dominating the 63rd running of the Belgian endurance classic

WRT Audi wins Spa 24 Hours

One of the Audi R8 LMS GT3s entered by the factory-supported WRT and Phoenix teams led nearly all the way from the middle of the third hour.

The Phoenix car driven by Marc Basseng, Frank Stippler and Christopher Haase topped the leaderboard until shortly before half-distance when the last-named crashed out. The WRT entry, driven by Audi DTM stars Mattias Ekstrom and Timo Scheider, and Belgian racer Greg Franchi, took over at the front and went on to record a two-lap victory over the Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 shared by Dirk Werner, Claudia Hurtgen and Edward Sandstrom.

Scheider, who added victory this year to his 2005 triumph at Spa with the Vitaphone Maserati squad, said: "The team did an awesome job. Just like my team-mates, they made no mistakes. We were the only Audi that ran through the race without problems, and that is why we won."

The second R8 fielded by Vincent Vosse's WRT squad fought back to finish fourth in the hands of Stephane Ortelli, Filipe Albuquerque and Bert Longin. The car dropped 12 laps off the lead in the fifth hour when a wishbone detached itself from an upright.

Phoenix appeared to have the edge on WRT both on the track and in the pits, yet came away with an unrepresentative 14th-place finish with the entry shared by Mike Rockenfeller, Andrea Piccini and Marcel Fassler. The car lost second gear early in the race and required a gearbox change when third gear also disappeared.

Third place went to the first of the Mercedes SLS AMGs, the Black Falcon entry of Thomas Jager, Stephane Lemeret and Kenneth Heyer. It finished 10 laps off the lead after losing time during the night with bodywork damage.

The only one of the three Ferrari 458 Italias entered by the German Vita4One squad to finish ended up fifth with Matteo Bobbi, Frank Kechele and Giacomo Petrobelli sharing driving duties. It finished on the same lap as the similar Auto Sport Promotion 458, which claimed Pro-Am honours with the line-up of Guillaume Moreau, Ludovic Badey, Franck Morel and Jean-Luc Beaubelique.

The CRS Racing-run McLaren GT squad got one of its new MP4-12Cs, the car entered in the Pro-Am division, to the finish in 25th position. Its two all-pro cars went out early: Andrew Kirkaldy crashed out when he was tipped into the wall in the first hour and Tim Mullen stopped in hour five when his car caught fire.

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Author Gary Watkins
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