#Spa24h Race Updates – Part 4

#Spa24h Race Updates – Part 4

Hour 19

* Herberth are dominating the Bronze Cup at this stage with the #91 and the affiliated #911 Porsche. Pro-Am honours continue to swap back and forth between the #75 Mercedes and the #24 Porsche. 

* Tresor Orange1 leads the Silver Cup fight. The #99 Audi has the #12 Audi has the similar #12 Comtoyou Racing entry circulating a minute back and with the #85 Grasser Lamborghini for company. Very close company, it must be said, as the two almost come together at La Source.

* The Gold Cup remains the domain of Optimum Motorsport, which has been out front (or thereabouts) for much of this race with the #5 McLaren. But keep an eye on the emerging #21 Comtoyou Audi, which is coming into play with Spa expert Maxime Soulet at the controls.

* Eng pits the race leading BMW. It's 30 minutes off sequence compared to the rest but pitting on the hour, which might mean it's actually on the optimum strategy. Time will tell... For now, the Scherer Sport PHX Audi is back out front in Engstler's hands. Feller, Andlauer, Preining and Marciello complete the top-five.

Hour 20

* And we do have a safety car. Everyone stops, though it's a short one for the #17 Audi which only takes fuel. So we now have a pretty straightforward situation in terms of strategy with the #98 BMW leading the #17 Audi and the #40 Audi. 

* The #35 BMW is stopped on-track at the exit of T14. Full-course yellow. That's changed this race, particularly if we end up with a safety car.

* Augusto Farfus nails the #777 Mercedes into the Bus Stop, though not before very nearly finding himself in the barriers. The #11 Audi has also got past the Lucas Auer-driven Merc, while the race-leading ROWE BMW is about to lap the lot of them.

* Major problems for the #99 Audi, which has been a factor at the front of the Silver Cup order. Alex Aka spins off the circuit with a puncture, which appears to have caused significant damage. He's been in the pits for six minutes and counting, so it's game over as far as the win goes. Probably a few nerves within the sister #40 camp, too.

* The #17 Audi takes its stop and that puts the #98 BMW back in front with four hours and 20 minutes to run. That car is the presumptive favourite. 

* The #40 Audi and the #88 Mercedes have just taken their latest stops. Those two are out of sync as it stands and will probably need a decent chunk of safety car to make this work, for the win at least. 

* The leading #98 BMW takes it stop 10 minutes into the hour. That puts the #40 Audi back in front, but it'll owe us a pit stop in 20 minutes – so on the 19 hours and 30 minute mark. The #17 Audi is 10 laps earlier into its own stint.

Hour 21

* That is 21 hours complete. Just three to go. Here are your class leaders.

* Marciello stops 10-ish minutes before his stint is up and undercuts the #17 Audi, which stops a lap later. The #88 might now be the best of the rest behind the increasingly dominant BMW.

* As you were between the top-four. Porsches run fifth and sixth (#96 from #92) followed by the #46 BMW in seventh. The #11 Audi, #777 Merc and #5 McLaren complete the top-10, the latter leading in Gold Cup. 

* The aforementioned pack has cleared the multi-times-lapped #57 Merc, but it's now a 10-second gap to the leading BMW. With three and a half hours to go ROWE Racing are in the box seat. We're roughly 30 minutes away from the next round of stops. 

* Wittmann extends the lead to almost nine seconds in the #98 BMW. The chasing pack are running in very close quarters – it's the #17 Audi, #40 Audi and the #88 Mercedes.

* The BMW is adied by four lapped cars between itself and the #17 Audi. That's allowed Marco Wittmann to pull a 5.2-second gap on Kelvin van der Linde. 

* We go racing again with three hours and 45 minutes left. The #98 BMW now needs to gap that #17 Audi, which is on older tyres. 


Hour 22

* As you were with just over two hours left to run. Marciello, Thiim and Vanthoor have just pitted on time from second, third and fourth. The leading #98 BMW of Wittmann is still about 15 minutes shy of his scheduled stop. 

* Thiim has dropped away from Marciello just a liitte, but there's still less than three seconds between them in the battle for second place. 

* Halfway through the 22nd hour, the #98 BMW holds an advantage of 11.4 seconds. Its 14 minutes younger in its stint than the second-place #88 Mercedes, which is on a very similar stint time to the chasing #17 Audi and the #92 Porsche.

* Three to go, endurance racing fans. Three to go. 

Hour 23

* Final set of class leader updates are here. Just one hour to run.

* Absolutely nothing to choose between Gounon and Thiim, who were separated by 0.7s last time by. Still time for P2 to swap hands but the win looks increasingly secure for the #98 BMW. 

* And they very nearly get together at the Bus Stop. There's a lapped car involved and Gounon just manages to sneak through and hold on to second. 

* Nicki Thiim vs Jules Gounon – part 2 – is on. Remmeber that these two came together at last year's race, resulting in the Danish driver doing a 360 through Eau Rouge. Now he is chasing down the French-Andorran for second spot.

The #20 Huber Motorsport Porsche that started from overall pole has just retaken the Bronze Cup lead with 1 hour 50 left on the clock. Matteo Cairoli is currently driving like a man possessed to ensure that class honours are added to pole and the (current) fastst lap from Tim Heinemann.

Hour 24 / Post-Race

* And the overall winners of the 2023 CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa... THE #98 ROWE RACING BMW

* The Gold Cup win went to the #5 Optimum Motorsport McLaren, which finished a fantastic 10th overall.

* Grasser Racing bagged the Silver Cup win with its #85 Lamborghini, giving the Italian brand something to celebrate.

* In the Bronze Cup, Huber Motorsport converted overall pole into class victory – and bagged the CrowdStrike Fastest Lap. 

* Here are your class winners, beginning with the #75 Sun Energy1 Mercedes-AMG in Pro-Am.


* ROWE RACING WINS THE 2023 Crowd Strike 24 Hours of Spa. The #88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG is second, the #17 Scherer Sport PHX Audi is third.

* The battle between Gounon and Thiim has brought the #92 Porsche of Kevin Estre into play. He's now just a second off the Dane and sniffs a podium. This isn't over. 

* With 40 minutes to go Thiim is all over Gounon. There's very nearly contact at La Source, but Gounon keeps holding on. Can he keep that Audi at bay?

* This is it – the 24th and final hour of the 2023 CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. Can anything stop BMW from taking its 25th overall win in the Ardennes?