Red flag interrupts proceedings

31 July 2022

A Full Course Yellow-period followed by a 42-minute red flag interruption for barrier repairs ruined the strategy of some the leading cars. At the 10-hour mark both ROWE BMW were in front.

During the 8-hour and 10-hour marks several incidents interrupted the racing at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa. The #63 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini was the first to have contact with the barriers, at the exit of the Pif-Paf corner. Although Albert Costa managed to bring the car back to the pits, the damage at the right front of the Lamborghini was too important to continue.

Some 20 minutes later, after 8,5 hours of racing, Alfred Renauer crashed the #911 Herberth Motorsport in Blanchimont, causing a Full Course Yellow-period. The #98 ROWE Racing BMW, leading the race at the time, took advantage of the decision to switch back to an alternate strategy by cutting its stint short.

For a while, it looked like a gamble, for the BMW was the only car inside the top 10 to do so. At the front, #88 Mercedes-AMG driver Raffaele Marciello managed to open a gap towards the following cars, but his advantage was reduced to naught when another Full Course Yellow-period was called just after the car’s regular pitstop.

Almost simultaneously, the #107 CMR Bentley (stopped in front of the Endurance pitlane), the #46 Audi Sport Team WRT with Valentino Rossi at the wheel (spinning off at the Pif-Paf, falling off the lead lap) and the #16 Earl Bamber Motorsport Porsche (crashing in Blanchimont) were involved in an incident.

At the wheel of the latter, Matt Payne was taken to hospital for a medical check-up, and fortunately the 19-year-old Kiwi was declared fit. Because his crash damaged the barriers, race direction called for a red flag, in order to execute the necessary repairs.

Just before the 10-hour mark, parc fermé was opened again, and teams and drivers were preparing to continue the race. The interruption had ruined the strategy of some, but others took advantage of the situation: both ROWE BMW cars (the #98 and #50) were now leading, followed by the #74 EMA Motorsport Porsche. The #88 Mercedes-AMG, now with Daniel Juncadella at the wheel, had dropped to 8th. 13 cars were still on the lead lap, now all on a similar strategy.

The Silver Cup lead had again changed hands, this time in favour of the #4 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG. Its #5 sister car was holding on to a slender lead in the Gold Cup. Pro-Am and Bronze Cup proceedings were still headed by the #24 Herberth Motorsport Porsche (with which Alessio Picariello had set the fastest race lap earlier) and the #35 Walkenhorst BMW respectively.