8-Hour Update: Lamborghini and Audi swap lead as battle intensifies

31 July 2021

The #63 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini led the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa shortly after midnight, chased by a pair of Audi Sport Team WRT entries, while several front-runners hit problems during this phase of the race.  

Among them was the #51 Iron Lynx Ferrari, which had led in the hands of Come Ledogar but received a drive-through penalty for a pit infringement committed more than three hours earlier. This dropped the car back to fifth, almost 40 seconds off Mirko Bortolotti in the leading Lamborghini.

The #88 Mercedes-AMG AKKA ASP received the same penalty for a pit infringement, costing the pole-sitter more than a minute. Raffaele Marciello was at the wheel on the eight-hour mark, a further 50 seconds in arrears of Ledogar. 

Bortolotti's main contenders at this point were the sister Audi Sport Team WRT cars of Kelvin van der Linde (#32) and Robin Frijns (#37), both of which appear able to run slightly longer stints than the Lambo. 

Van der Linde passed Bortolotti for the lead 10 minutes before the hour, but the Italian returned the favour shortly after as their battle intensified. Frijns was eight seconds further back, while the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW and the #95 Garage 59 Aston Martin completed the top-five at eight hours. 

The #35 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW was another victim of the night shift. It was running a strong third when it was wheeled into the garage to repair a broken lower front-left wishbone, dropping the car several laps down and entirely out of contention.

A full-course yellow/safety car period was required when the #33 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari went off at Campus with Benja Hites at the wheel. Phil Keen also had issues in the #19 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini, which appeared to lose its headlights before sliding into the gravel. 

The #90 Madpanda Mercedes-AMG continued to run superbly in ninth overall and top of the Silver Cup class at eight hours, driven at this stage by Rik Breukers. Andrea Bertolini was 16th in the Pro-Am-leading AF Corse Ferrari, while the #166 Hägeli by T2 Racing Porsche remained at the head of the Am Cup with Manuel Lauck driving.