Leonardo Pulcini and Benja Hites retook the lead of standings in the International after a brilliant in the special endurance race at Spa-Francorchamps that awarded double points. It was a great day for the Oregon Team, with Glenn Van Berlo-Kevin Gilardoni bringing the other Lambo Huracan of the Italian squad in third, sandwiching the Mercedes of the debuting HRT squad with Frank Bird-Jordan Love at the wheel.
It was a lively and entertaining race in all classes, but a very frustrating one for the Optimum Motorsport McLaren of Nick Moss-Joe Osborne, who arrived at Spa as championship leaders but fell victim to first corner drama.
In Pro-Am, Olimp Racing won with Marcin Jedlinski-Karol Basz and the Audi R8 LMS, who took their second win of the season and the points lead in the class, given the blank result of Theeba Motorsport. They beat the Kessel Ferrari of Murat Cuhadaroglu-David Fumanelli and the Aust Motorsport Audi of Dino Steiner-Max Hofer.
In Am, Kiki Sak Nana and Adam Osieka gave the GetSpeed Mercedes camp its first win of the season, ahead of local hero Laurent De Meeus and Jamie Stanley (AF Corse Ferrari), now tied at the top of the standings with Alex Hrachowina-Martin Konrad (Mann Filter Landgraf Mercedes), today 3rd.
THE RACE - After a few days of great heat (34 degrees on Saturday), the temperature is almost cool on Sunday at Spa and a few drops of rain fall shortly before the start, but everybody starts on slicks. Gilardoni takes the best start from row 2, passing Hites and Moss in row 1, but the McLaren is touched and spins exiting La Source, which provokes a number of secondary contacts among the cars behind, involving among other Juffali and Scholze, who is forced to the pits. In the meantime, the McLaren is stopped along the track with a broken suspension.
While Gilardoni has taken the lead at first corner but is passed soon after by teammate Hites, the hero of the first phases is Max Hofer, who has climbed to third in first lap and manages to pass both Oregon Lamborghinis right after. Aggressive and fast, the Austrian seems unleashed. Basz steals third from Gilardoni, with Bird, and Bhirombhakdi sixth ahead of the three GetSpeed of Shoffner, Osieka and Jans.
By lap 10, Hofer leads with 7 seconds on Basz, who has just passed Hites, 12 on Gilardoni and 16 on Bird, while Osieka leads in Am while the fiercest battle is for P12 between Zanotti and Müller, who pass each other a couple of times. Bhirombhakdi spins, dropping to P10, right when the window for the first pit stop opens. There is a hairy moment as Christodoulou exits the pit stop and is abreast leader Max Hofer, who will receive a drive-through for overtaking a lapped car outside the track. For Christodoulou, dueling continues but with Earl Bamber. The two touch at Malmédy, spinning into the gravel, prompting the safety-car out. Only the Porsche will be able to continue.
Only three drivers (Hofer, Basz and Osieka) still have to pit when the safety-car gets out of the track, with the group even more compact than in a rolling start. After all pit stops, Pulcini leads by 2 seconds on Van Berlo, 4 on Love, and 5 on Baud. Further aback are Jedlinski, Nana who leads in Am, and Steiner, who has served the drive-through. The situation does not change much during the rest of the second stint, with Pulcini keeping a marginal lead on Van Berlo (2 seconds), Love (4) and Baud (5), with Nana first among Am cars.
After the second pit stop, Hites leads with 8 seconds on Gilardoni, with Bird a close third, then Jans (who has to stop in the pits with a technical issue), Basz (who receives an 8-second penalty for not serving the entire handicap), Hofer, Osieka and Shoffner. In lap 39, while the third pit stop window opens, Bhirombhakdi is off in the gravel prompting the safety-car again, with most cars not having pitted yet.
Pulcini leads after the pit stop, right ahead Love and Van Berlo, who attacks and touches the Australian as he steals P2. Steiner is fourth ahead of Fumanelli, while Basz (who hasn’t pitted yet) touches Hollings at the bus stop and sends him into a spin in lap 46. Not much will happen in the final laps except for the penalties that will hit the two Oregon Lambos for track limits (10 seconds for the Van Berlo car, 5 for the Hites one) which allow Love to retake second.