Privateer Porsche snatches dramatic Spa 6 Hour Victory

Privateer Porsche snatches dramatic Spa 6 Hour Victory

Privateer Porsche snatches dramatic Spa 6 Hour Victory

The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps of the 2024 World Endurance Championship (WEC) was a dramatic event which saw an unexpected team take the win with Porsche’s cup flowing over with Hypercar and LMGT3 1-2s in Belgium.

Hertz Team Jota duo Will Stevens and Callum Ilott scored an historic first privateer victory of the World Endurance Championship Hypercar era as their Porsche 963 fended off the might of both the factory Penske Porsche and Ferrari teams to win the Spa 6 Hours on Saturday.

It was another dominant WEC outing for Porsche with both the overall Hypercar 1-2 and LM GT3 1-2 wins as Ferrari bounced back from another disaster to claim a podium third and fourth. It was however a dramatic, crash, safety car and red flag infested race. Porsche Penske Motorsport trio Laurens Vanthoor, Andre Lotterer and Kevin Estre were second to move into the title lead in the number 6.

Andrea Fuoco, Miguel Molina, and Nicholas Nielsen ended third in the 50 499P from teammates Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi as Ferrari bounced back after losing pole position. The 51 car was found underweight after qualifying. But it was also a cruel outing for the red cars, which were in a strong 1-2 when the race was stopped after a huge accident an hour and 40 from home.

Massive accident stopped Spa Hour play

Earl Bamber had tried to force his Cadillac V-Series.R LMDh into a gap that did not exist. Between the Neel Jani Proton Competition Porsche 963 he was attempting to pass, and the hapless Sean Gelael’s BMW M4 GT3. That caused a frightening accident up the Kemmel Straight and stopped the race as the plane crash-like wreckage was cleared and barriers mended.

Despite the clock running down, WEC officials thrilled fans but infuriated teams by pushing the clock back and re-starting to run a full six hours on track. That handed the advantage to the Jota and similar 6 factory Porsches, which had stopped minutes before the crash. That put them into a more favourable strategy to the leading Ferraris.

Teams were allowed to change tyres on the grid for the safety car restart, but the leading 51 Ferrari also had to take a splash and dash refuel under the restart yellow flags. Before pitting again after the return to green flag racing.

Red flag robbed red cars of their Spa advantage

Ilott’s Jota and Estre in the factory 963 only needed one more stop, but the privateer entry was comfortably able to hold the works car at bay. Even though Estre undercut Ilott to take four new tyres for his final stint. That left the Ferraris and Gazoo Toyotas were well adrift after their necessary additional stops.

So the 50 Ferrari ended a lonely third ahead of its sister 51. That after Pier Guidi fought back past Kamui Kobayashi’s 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid LMH to finish fourth. Kobayashi also dropped behind the Andlauer-Jani privateer Proton 963, which made it three Porsches in the top five.

A driving penalty then dropped the number 7 behind its teammate number 8 Hartley-Buemi-Hirakawa Toyota. The yellow Ferrari ended eighth from the upbeat Chatin-Gounon-Milesi Alpine, defeating the Jensen-Müller Peugeot in tan all-French fight for ninth. The Vanthoor Marciello Wittmann BMW followed from the second Alpine, BMW, and Peugeots, and the Isotta Fraschini.

A double Hypercar and LMGT3 1-2 for Porsche

The race had earlier run for a protracted time behind the safety car. After Rene Rast’s BMW M Hybrid V8 took Phil Hanson’s second Jota Porsche 963 out from behind. Ahmad Al Harthy was collateral damage there in the other, Valentino Rossi GT3 BMW M4. The second 5 Porsche went off on its own at mid distance.

Porsche’s WEC cup literally flowed over when Manthey Racing also delivered a masterclass 911 LMGT3 1-2. The leading Schiavoni-Cressoni-Perera Iron Lynx Lamborghini was forced to pit for fuel before the final lap. Leaving the Malykhin-Sturm-Bachler Porsche to the win from teammates Lietz, Schuring and Shahin. The Lamborghini re-joined to take third from the similar Bovy-Frey-Gatting Iron Dames entry.

All roads now lead to Le Mans for the big one, the 15-16 June 24 Hour. With crucial Balance of Performance data yet to be confirmed, it seems not much should change considering the closing gaps between the cars. All of which promises perhaps one of the closest-fought races in the 101 years of the endurance classic. See you at Le Mans!