The GT3 Years in Review: 2016

13 July 2021

The BMW Z4 signed off with victory in the 2015 TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, the perfect farewell for an immensely popular car after several near misses. In its place came the Bavarian brand's new M6 model, which wasted no time in matching its predecessor.  

The #99 ROWE Racing car of Martin/Sims/Eng did not look to be a leading contender for the win; indeed, Maxime Martin was far from hopeful before heading into battle. Yet the #99 crew was competitive for the majority of the race, first moving into the lead around the six-hour mark and remaining in the fight for the remainder.  

On Saturday afternoon Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington was joined by his bandmates to signal the start of the 24 Hours. Shortly afterwards six of the Mercedes runners pulled into the pits to serve a five-minute penalty for a technical infringement, though their chances were not over yet.  

By Sunday morning the battle was between the #99 BMW, the #6 Team Phoenix Audi and the #8 M-Sport Bentley, the latter mounting its most serious challenge yet in the Ardennes. The crew of Soucek/Soulet/Reip looked set to be a factor to the finish, but a long final stop for a switch to wets cost the Bentley significant time. 

Indeed, the weather was a major factor in this race as the rain came and went, then came again. The final downpour was especially dramatic and saw several cars pirouette off the road. Amid all of this, ROWE Racing held on to take victory with its new M6 GT3, which became the 14th different BMW model to score overall victory in the Ardennes. 

The #6 Audi exited following a dramatic fire while M-Sport's long stop dropped the #8 Bentley to fourth, allowing the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG to take a remarkable runner-up finish despite its early five-minute penalty. The #28 Team WRT Audi was third, extending the Belgian squad's run of successive podiums to six. Despite being in the fight for victory almost every year since, as of 2021 WRT has not made it back on the rostrum. 

Porsche broke Ferrari's perfect run in Pro-Am as IMSA Performance bagged class honours and finished an excellent 10th overall. There was still a victorious Prancing Horse, however, as Kessel Racing earned victory in the Am Cup. 

NUMBERS

• Laps: 531
• Starters: 65
• Winning margin: 1m55.408s
• Pole: 2m18.505s (#28 Audi R8 LMS) 
• Fastest lap: 2m18.793s (#28 Audi R8 LMS)

STATS

• First edition to count towards the new Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli 
• Top-three all finish on the lead lap 
• Most recent overall podium for Team WRT
• First Appearance: BMW M6 GT3, Jules Gounon, Mercedes-AMG GT3, Dries Vanthoor
• Last Appearance: Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, Bruno Senna, Raymond Narac

2016 photo gallery