Hertz Team JOTA wins dramatic WEC race at Spa

Hertz Team JOTA race winner - Photo by Melissa Warren

Hertz Team JOTA took its first outright win at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, round three of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The event attracted a record number of 88,180 fans and was restarted following a lengthy red flag.

The British-based squad drove the gold-liveried Porsche 963 to the chequered flag after Englishmen Callum Illott and Will Stevens took advantage of well-timed pit stop before a red flag to go out of synch with most rivals.

IIlott and Stevens become the first duo line-up to win a top class WEC race since 2014 and they are the first all-British winners since 2017. The team’s win sees the crew catapulted to second in the overall driver standings, 22 points behind Porsche Penske.

Runners-up today were the No.6 Porsche Penske 963 Hypercar driven by Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor – the current championship leaders finishing 12.363s behind race winners, JOTA.

The No.50 Ferrari AF Corse 499P Hypercar of Miguel Molina, Antonio Fuoco and Nicklas Nielsen took the final podium spot, the trio climbing back up the leaderboard following a penalty which saw the crew start today’s race from the back of the Hypercar grid. The sister No.51 Ferrari AF Corse driven by James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Antonio Giovinazzi finished fourth.

Early race leaders Proton Competition rounded out the top five, with Julien Andlauer passing Toyota’s Kamui Kobayashi in the privately-run Porsche 963 in the race’s closing stages. The No. 7 Toyota Gazoo Racing entry crossed the line in sixth place but a five-second penalty for earlier contact with an LMGT3 car saw the crew eventually finish seventh behind the sister No. 8 Toyota driven by Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa.

The No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari driven by Robert Kubica, Robert Shwartzman and Yifei Ye finished eighth overall. Alpine Endurance Team (car No. 35) secured ninth, one spot ahead of the No. 93 Peugeot TotalEnergies Peugeot 9X8 who clinched the final championship point.

During the race’s fifth hour, Cadillac Racing’s Earl Bamber crashed on the Kemmel Straight after tagging the No.99 Proton Competition Porsche of Neel Jani while battling for third position.

Following the lengthy red flag period, necessary to repair armco barriers and catch fencing on the Kemmel Straight after the Earl Bamber/Sean Gelael accident, the race session was resumed at 19:10 local time for a period of 1h 44 minutes that was needed to make the necessary repairs and ensure the track is safe to race.

Manthey Porsche takes epic one-two in LMGT3 at Spa

The No.91 Manthey EMA Porsche 911 R LMGT3 of Richard Lietz, Yasser Shahin and Morris Schuring went from third to winners over the final lap in a thrilling LMGT3 race at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa on Saturday.

Lietz was placed third behind the No.60 Iron Lynx Lamborghini of Franck Perera and the sister Manthey run No.92 Porsche driven by Klaus Bachler and confessed to being confused when he took the chequered flag a few minutes later as the winner!

Once Perera had been forced to give up the lead by having to pit for a splash of fuel, Lietz found himself in second and closing on stablemate Bachler.

The Austrian pounced at Les Combes as Bachler tried to juggle diminishing fuel and the Manthey EMA 911 R LMGT3 led home the similar PureRaxing of Alaiksandr Malykhin, Klaus Bachler and Joel Sturm by just over a second.

Malykhin, Bachler and Sturm converted an epic revival after a huge qualifying accident at Raidillon saw team completely rebuilding their car after an all-night effort.

The 18-points for second place ensures that the No.92 crew extend their championship points lead as they head to the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.

The No.60 Iron Lynx Lamborghini of Matteo Cressoni, Franck Perera and Claudio Schiavoni, who take advantage of two-part aspect of race re-joined after their last lap ‘splash and dash’ pit-stop to fill out the podium in third.

Taking fourth (which became fifth after a post-race penalty) was the No.85 Iron Dames Lamborghini Huracan driven by Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey.

They led much of the race but were ultimately shuffled back after a slow pit stop in the final hour after the re-start.

The No.,59 United Autosports McLaren of James Cottingham, Gregoire Saucy and Nicolas Costa  finished in fifth place after also leading at stages of the race.

Completing the top six was the No.54 VISTA AF Corse Ferrari 296 LMGT3 of Davide Rigon, Francesco Castellacci and Thomas Flohr, who also spent a time at the head of the LMGT3 field during the race.

The Imola winning No.31 Team WRT BMW M4 of Sean Gelael, Augusto Farfus and Darren Leung saw their race end after being collected by Earl Bamber’s red flag causing accident in the fifth hour.

Their teammates in the No.46 BMW, Valentino Rossi, Maxime Martin and Ahmed Al Harthy also retired after also being innocent participants in an accident at the Fagnes corner when the Rene Rast tagged Phil Hanson earlier in the race.

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