Four hours to go: anything is still possible...

31 July 2016 Four hours to go: anything is still possible...

With four hours to go in the 2016 Total 24 Hours of Spa it is impossible to predict who will take the coveted trophy home. Four cars of four different brands are in the top-four, with the first two still on the lead lap. 

With four hours to go, that's 60 minutes more than a regular round of the Blancpain GT Series, it's all to play for in the 69th edition of the Belgian endurance classic. The #99 Rowe Racing BMW had taken the lead when the #8 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental served its (fourth!) drive-through penalty, but when it started to drizzle at around 11 o'clock on Sunday morning, Bentley Boy Andy Soucek swiftly closed the gap towards leader Maxime Martin. The Spaniard was almost under the rear wing of the BMW when he had to pit. Once Martin did the same, passing the wheel to Alexander Sims, the Bentley retook the lead.

But that was only a prologue to the drama that happened just before Sunday noon. The third placed car, the #6 Audi Sport Team Phoenix R8 in the hands of Christopher Mies, caught fire when exiting the Pouhon corner. The car had a puncture and apparently the flailing rubber caused the fire. It is the first time in Mies' five Total 24 Hours of Spa-participations that he will not finish on the podium.

That meant that the #28 Audi Sport Team WRT R8 moved up the order, now occupying a virtual podium position. It passed the leading Mercedes-AMG, the #88 AMG-Team AKKA ASP car just before the twenty-hour mark.

In front, the leaders made use of the Full Course Yellow-period caused by the Mies' fire to pit and switch to rain tyres, since the clouds had opened up even more over the Spa circuit. At Rowe Racing they decided to change the brake pads on the #99 car as well. With rain expected to stop around 14.30, this fight for the win might hold some surprises.

In Pro-Am the #76 IMSA Performance Porsche has managed to take a lap on its nearest competitors, the #74 ISR Audi  and the #666 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini. The Pro-Am championship leader Michal Broniszewski saw his ambitions to clinch the title in Spa go up in smoke when his Ferrari was hit from behind at La Source corner. 

In Am Cup the leader has a rather comfortable margin, with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari now enjoying a two-lap lead over the #888 Kessel Racing Ferrari, with the #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari a further six laps down.

The leading Bentley also leads the fight for the Intercontinental GT Challenge points, from the #28 Audi Sport Team WRT R8 and the #88 AMG-Team AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG. First of the Am cars is the #76 IMSA Performance Porsche.