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Total 24 hours of Spa half distance report
Torrential rain now as the heavens open and everything gets a bit dark. And I do mean dark. One very noticeable difference between here and Le Mans is the almost complete lack of incidental light. This proves a little difficult if you are a spectator without a torch as there are few if any lights to see by outside of the Paddock. Heaven only knows what it is like to drive in. Whereas at Le Mans all of the main corners are floodlit by diesel generator powered halogen lamps needed for the television cameras. From the exit of the Porsche curves round to Tertre Rouge is lit as is Mulsanne Corner, Indy, and Arnage. Basically anywhere you are allowed to walk, you can very likely see where you are going. Not so here. There are no night time TV pictures and, outside of the Paddock, very little in the way of lighting other than the moon. In a word, darkness.

The seventh and rainiest hour yet saw the 79 BMW Motorsport continue to show how it is done in GTN, whilst Marcel Fassler in the 50 Phoenix Racing GT3 Audi shows his skills at carving through the rain increasing his lead over the Prospeed Competition Porsche 911 GT3. Gianmaria Bruni had the 2 ALD Team Vitaphone Ferrari F430 back up to third overall and leading GT2.

The eighth hour saw the rain finally relent and the track start to dry and the braver drivers sent for slick tires. Marcel ‘The Duck’ Fassler who was so impressive in the wet, getting to within 38 seconds of the leader at one stage, couldn’t repeat the trick as conditions improved and dropped back to fifth. Bruni continued his charge and piloted the 2 Ferrari into 2nd overall, closely followed by the 16 IMSA Performance Porsche and keeping things tight in GT2. The BMW with a Dirk in it continued to lead and we welcomed back the 69 Speed lover Porsche after it had spent 4 hours in pit lane.

Hour nine found the irrepressible Fassler in his 50 Phoenix Audi chasing down The Dirks’ 79 BMW and allowed us the first journalistic cliché of the evening as ‘bad luck struck the 13 car’ when Richard Westbrook collected the 64 BSR Aston and pitted with substantial damage to the Prospeed 911 before beginning a series of rejoining and pitting again as they worked things out. Also, the metronomic BMW Motorsport outfit had an issue with the second car as 78 boxed for fuel and wouldn’t re-start. The resulting lengthy stop required to get it going again effectively saw any chance of the top step of the podium disappear but it remained 2nd in class, ahead of the 91 EBRT Porsche 997 Cup containing, amongst others, the youngest driver in the race in Christoff Corten who was having his first drive here and in only his fifth competitive drive, ever!

Hour ten saw the 200th lap completed and the Safety Car out and bunching the field after the 67 United Autosports Audi R8 hit the gravel trap in Turn 7 , the final right of the right-left-right of Les Combes. Cue everybody to hit their boxes, including the 67 that had managed to keep going.  The 67 was at it again 20 minutes later as, with Alain Li at the wheel, it spun in the Burxelles hair-pin, Turn 8, one corner later than his predecessor went off in. Fortunately Li kept the Audi going and re-joined without the need for a further Safety Car.

79 BMW led from 2 AF Corse Ferrari, the 50 Phoenix Audi, and the 16 IMSA Matmut Porsche right behind not far ahead of the 23 BMS Porsche 911.  Five cars on the lead lap with just seconds between P2 and P4, thanks Safety Car, and the Audis are praying for more rain.

Strange things are said to happen ‘at the eleventh hour’ but, a puncture for the 50 Phoenix Audi aside, not so here as BMW continued their strong showing by leading from the front.

Pedro Lamy from the 78 BMW popped his head out to confirm what we could all see; that the BMWs had an issue with the wet conditions but really got it hooked it up in the dry. He added that they has gear shift issues as well as a problem with the starter and this caused the long pit-stop.

The BMW PR girl must have felt the need for some sleep as she turned-out another driver, probably, before turning-in herself. Step-forward Dirk Andorf (Dirk 2nd class or Chief Under-Dirk to Dirk Muller) who proved the rule that a tired driver, in the middle of the night, will state the glaringly obvious before grabbing some much needed rest in the trailer; he told us they were having a good race and that the weather dictates things at Spa, he did admit that the team wanted it dry for the rest of the race however.

On a more racing related note; the 68 United Autosports Audi was up to fourth in the GT3 class and a very creditable 8th overall followed closely at 46 seconds back by the Trackspeed Porsche 911 also running fourth in class, GT2, and ninth overall. Not at all bad for the fellow first-timer teams.

Lap 266 saw the race cross the 12-hour half-distance mark and the 79 BMW leading the field, Dirk Werner (Dirk III) at the wheel, for the 11th hour of the twelve so far; the two BMW Motorsport M3’s having jumped the 2 car in the pits after second hour rain and it subsequently suffering damage to the rear right after getting tagged by the 85 Gulf Team First Lamborghini.

Dirk Werner set the fastest lap of the race thus far shortly before the clock ticked the twelfth hour when on lap 264 he posted a time of 2:22.710 a lap ahead of the second placed Ferrari F430 with Eric van der Poole who has a good incentive to win in that if he does he will have collected 6 trophies here and will be the winningest driver of the Spa 24. Nathan Heywood reporting from Spa

Full classification at half distance:

Pos Car Class Drivers Car Laps
1 79 GTN Werner / Müller / Adorf / BMW M3 243
2 2 GT2 Bruni / Longin / van de Poele / Vilander Ferrari F430 242
3 16 GT2 Narac / Long / Pilet / Lietz Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997) 242
4 50 GT3 Kumpen / Fässler / Luhr / Rockenfeller Audi R8 LMS 242
5 23 GT2 Dumas / Bergmeister / Ragginger / Henzler Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997) 241
6 73 GT3 Ortelli / Mollekens / Lemeret / Verbist Audi R8 LMS 237
7 51 GT3 Margaritis / Hennerici / Piccini / Moser Audi R8 LMS 235
8 68 GT3 Blundell / Brown / Dean / Cheever Audi R8 LMS 234
9 7 GT2 Ashburn / Rosenblad / Asch / Bergmeister Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997) 234
10 78 GTN Müller / Lamy / Alzen / BMW M3 234
11 60 GT3 Slingerland / Soulet / Schroyen / Menten Porsche 911 GT3 R 233
12 99 GT3 Leinders / Martin / Duez / Ford GT 233
13 53 GT3 Häring / Konstantinou / Peyroles / Vannelet Porsche 911 GT3 R 232
14 17 GT2 Bourret / Gibon / Belloc / Balandras Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997) 232
15 98 GT3 De Doncker / Kuppens / Palttala / Ford GT 230
16 1 GT2 Waltrip / Cadei / Kauffmann / Cioci Ferrari F430 230
17 4 GT2 van Splunteren / Hommerson / Machiels / Bastiaans Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997) 230
18 67 GT3 Johansson / Li / Patterson / Assentato Audi R8 LMS 224
19 55 GT3 Brandela / Lesoudier / Prignaud / Stepec BMW Alpina B6 GT3 218
20 71 GT3 Mortimer / Bamford / Griffin / Ford GT 217
21 91 GTN Broodcooren / Marin / Barbaro / Corten Porsche 997 Cup 214
22 13 GT2 Westbrook / Holzer / Lieb / Goossens Porsche 911 GT3 RS (997) 207
23 56 GT3 Corbel / Duchene / Beroujon / Bernard BMW Alpina B6 GT3 204
24 64 GT3 Renard / Verbergt / Wauters / van Hooydonk Aston Martin DBRS9 200
25 81 GTN Grosjean / Radermaecker / Alessi / Marchal Mosler MT900 199
26 66 GTN Lichtner Hoyer / Eckert / Seefried / Rich Porsche 997 GT3 Cup MY06 197
27 85 GT3 Giroix / Fatien / Valentini / Beltoise Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 188
28 58 GTN van der Straten / Al Azhari / Close / Qvick Ford Mustang FR500C GT 176
29 59 GT4 Dolan / Hancock / Wills / Twyman Aston Martin V8 Vantage 169
30 86 GT3 Andre / Goethe / Wainwright / Demoustier Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 148
31 52 GT3 Fumal / de Lorenzi / Thiry / Thomas Porsche 911 GT3 R 135
32 74 GT3 Bouvy / Kelders / Blachemain / Tuchbant Audi R8 LMS 127
33 70 GT4 Viale / de Coster / NelissenGrade / Renmans Porsche 997 GT3 Cup MY06 103
34 100 GTN Vos / Schothorst / Coronel / Kolen Porsche 997 GT3 Cup S 91
35 69 GT4 Deblauwe / Brugmans / Grandjean / Gerome Porsche 997 GT3 Cup MY06 86
36 84 GT3 Kox / Hayek / Bonaldi / Lee Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 63
37 72 GT3 Franchi / Vosse / Stippler / Biela Audi R8 LMS 57
38 61 GT3 Brouard / Noziere / Kerkhove / Sougnez Porsche 911 GT3 R 43
39 63 GT3 D'Ansembourg / Grivegnee / Demay / Merche Aston Martin DBRS9 25
40 62 GT4 Barff / Ordonez / Buncombe / Buncombe Nissan 370Z 23

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