Jota-Porsche celebrates sensational victory after extra time

Double victory for Porsche in the third race of the 2024 WEC season in Spa-Francorchamps! In a memorable race that was extended by almost two hours, a private customer team achieved a sensational victory: the #12 Porsche 963 driven by Jota with the driver duo Will Stevens/Callum Ilott triumphed after 141 laps.

At the finish at 8:55 p.m. on Saturday evening, Jota final driver Ilott’s lead was 12.363 seconds over second-placed Kevin Estre in the #6 Penske-Porsche (Estre, Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor). For LMDh racing cars from Zuffenhausen it was the third double podium in the third race of the season.

WEC Spa: Serious racing accident triggers red flags (01:53 min.)

Ferrari on the podium after qualifying disqualification

The #50 factory Ferrari (Fuoco, Molina, Nielsen) completed the podium in third place and experienced a roller coaster of emotions on the Ardennes circuit: On Saturday night, Antonio Fuoco lost pole position because the Ferrari was around one kilo underweight had been determined. This meant that the trio had to start the race from 19th place on the grid.

Red flags ensure preliminary decision in Spa

It was a long Saturday in Spa for the numerous visitors (almost 90,000 on the weekend) and teams: due to an accident and almost two hours of repair work on guardrails, the race management decided to extend the race duration by 1:44 hours.

The long compulsory break with red flags also brought the preliminary decision: Shortly before the break, the #12 Porsche and the #6 Penske-963 had made their pit stops. This gave the duo at the front an advantage of more than a minute at the restart, after the rest of the hypercar field had immediately turned into the pits. At the final pit stops a good 40 minutes before the end of the race, the Jota Porsche gained eleven seconds on the #6 thanks to a shorter service and maintained this lead until the end.

The second factory Ferrari with starting number #51 (Pier Guidi, Giovinazzi, Calado) narrowly missed the podium in fourth place. Behind them, the #99 Porsche 963 from the German customer team Proton Competition (Jani, Andlauer) took fifth place. Julien Andlauer became the star of the race with numerous highly spectacular overtaking maneuvers from start to finish. The #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid (Conway, Kobayashi, de Vries), the sister car with starting number #8 (Buemi, Hartley, Hirakawa) and the private #83 Ferrari 499P from AF Corse (Kubica , Shwartzman, Ye).

Spa race interrupted for two hours after accident

The race was interrupted with red flags for almost two hours (5:13 p.m. to 7:10 p.m.) just two hours before the finish. This was preceded by a serious accident involving the #2 Cadillac V-Series.R (Bamber, Lynn) after a collision with the #31 WRT-BMW M4 GT3 (Leung, Gelael, Farfus).

Caddy driver Earl Bamber was driving on the Kemmel straight in the slipstream of Neel Jani’s #99 Porsche until he hit the WRT BMW in this tight situation, took off briefly and spun several times on the track. Bamber and Gelael gave the all-clear, but were screened at the medical center to be on the safe side.

The repair work at the accident site took almost two hours. The race management decided at 6:56 p.m. to extend the race by the red flag time. At the restart at 7:10 p.m. there were still 1:44 hours to complete. The actual 6-hour race ultimately turned into a 10-hour marathon day for spectators, drivers and teams.

Total failure for WRT-BMW at home game

The early retirement of the #31 BMW meant a total failure in the LMGT3 category for the local heroes of WRT, who had recently achieved a double victory in Imola. During the second hour of racing, the #46 BMW, in which Valentino Rossi is making his WEC debut, hit the guardrail after contact with the #38 Jota-Porsche (Rasmussen, Hanson, Button). The cause of this situation was, of all people, Rene Rast in the #20 BMW M Hybrid V8 (Sheldon van der Linde, Rast, Frijns), who was given a drive-through penalty.

“Unfortunately, both GT3 cars were taken out of the race by hypercars,” said BMW works driver Augusto Farfus. “This should be a sign that something needs to be done.”

Penske-Porsche out after Blanchimont crash

On the Ardennes circuit, not only a Jota customer Porsche was hit, but also the Penske works car with starting number #5 (Campbell, Christensen, Makowiecki). Porsche works driver Michael Christensen came off the track at the Blanchimont exit in hour three and brushed past the left-hand barrier at high speed. The hybrid system switched off for safety reasons – an early end for the pole setters.

LMGT3 class: double victory for Manthey-Porsche

Porsche even had two reasons to celebrate on the traditional Belgian circuit: Team Manthey achieved a double victory in the LMGT3 category with its two Porsche 911 GT3 R. Shahin/Schuring/Lietz prevailed in front of the sister car with Malykhin/Sturm/Bachler. Crazy: After Alexander Malykhin suffered a serious accident in qualifying, the 911 had to be completely rebuilt overnight.

Next WEC race: It’s going to Le Mans

After the ‘dress rehearsal’ in Spa, the fourth race of the season and simultaneous highlight awaits WEC racing calendar: the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 15/16. June 2024. Ferrari travels as defending champions to what is probably the most famous race in the history of motorsport.

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