Mostert takes class victory as BMW wins 24 Hours of Spa
Monday 3rd July, 2023 - 12:47am
Chaz Mostert has secured Pro-Am class victory in the 24 Hours of Spa, after he and his team recovered from a complete car rebuild and pit lane start for the race.
Despite an incredibly wet start to running and repeatedly interrupted sessions during the run-up to the 24-hour race, the weather held.
The initially wet track dried in Saturday’s daytime running and there was no further rain during the night or into the final phases.
Of 70 cars that took the Safety Car start of the race yesterday, 49 finished the race with the leader covering 537 laps.
The fastest lap of the race was 2:17.191 set by Kevin Estre in the #92 Manthey Porsche.
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In the overall lead, the #98 ROWE BMW had a 20-second advantage, going into the final hour. However, behind it the #88 ASP Mercedes and #17 Scherer Audi were split by less than a second, Nicki Thiim fighting Jules Gounon for second place to the chequered flag.
Just after the 22-hour point the #75 Sun Energy 1 Merc, which had been leading the Pro-Am class since dawn, gained a full lap advantage over its nearest competition.
Running 23rd overall, Chaz Mostert was four laps down from the outright lead, while Nico Menzel in the #24 Car Collection Porsche had slipped back to five.
By the time the race had ticked down to 90 minutes remaining, however, the #75 was only 11.5 seconds ahead of the #24, with Nicky Catsburg trying to re-extend the lead.
At one hour remaining in the race, that gap had been cut to just 6.5 seconds as both cars entered their final stints.
Into the final ten minutes of the race, Catsburg had increased the gap again to more than 12 seconds, bringing the Mercedes home safe to secure the squad (himself, Mostert, Martin Konrad and stand-in Adam Osieka, replacing injured Kenny Habul) a class victory from a pit lane start.
After swapping the Gold Cup lead between them for much of the race, the victory was taken by the #5 Optimum McLaren, the #30 WRT BMW and Calan Williams settling eventually for second.
A difficult qualifying left Alex Peroni’s #3 GetSpeed Mercedes unable to make much of the 24 hours but secure a finish in the highly contested Bronze class.
Likewise, the #23 Grove Porsche struggled for race pace despite strong night stints by Earl Bamber and Anton de Pasquale.
The Bronze Cup victory went to the pole-sitting #20 Huber Porsche, with Jordan Love in the #79 Haupt Mercedes the highest-finishing Australian in the class, coming category fifth.
The #99 Tresor Orange 1 Audi, which had led the Silver class at the 12 and 18-hour points, suffered a left rear puncture and spun just before the race reached 20 hours.
Minutes later, the #35 WRT BMW stopped on track, prompting a full course yellow period while it was retrieved, throwing the #99 a pit stop lifeline but to no avail, the Audi retiring after 429 laps.
The Silver Cup victory was eventually taken by the #85 Grasser Lamborghini, one of only two of the make’s cars still driving at the finish.
One strange quirk of the race was that the #31 WRT BMW petitioned the stewards overnight to be able to reclassify as a Pro entry.
The basis for this was that the Bronze driver for its original classification, Tim Whale, was unwell and so Adam Carroll and Lewis Proctor were allowed to continue the race without Whale’s minimum driving time being met, a request that was granted.
The 2023 running will, tragically, always be overshadowed by the death of 18-year-old Dilano van ’t Hoff during the Formula Regional support race, in bad weather conditions before the 24-hour start.