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Blancpain Endurance Series: Spa 24, Hour 17, VDS Begin To Solidify Lead

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SUMMARY: VDS began to create a healthy lead over the challenging #2 WRT Audi during what was a rather quiet hour 17.

The misty conditions around the circuit continued as the #45 VDS BMW was, like the sister car, handed a drive-through for overtaking under yellows as the seventeenth hour began. It was later canceled by the officials, nevertheless it was frustrating period for Bas Leinders and his squad who had lost precious time to the leading #2 Audi with the #46 car.

“We don’t understand where the confusion with the penalty came from,” explained VDS team principal Leinders. “We were confident that Lucas Luhr didn’t overtake, they got it wrong, it’s strange. But I’m happy that the #45 was ok.”

TDS’ #12 BMW was spotted running slowly early in the hour around the circuit running sixth in Pro Am. It was a right-rear puncture for Mathias Beche, and it would cost the team a handful of places when the mechanics wheeled the Z4 into the garage.

Later, a brief full-course yellow was called at the halfway point in the hour for debris on track at Eau Rouge. At this point the #45 VDS BMW had retaken the lead due to the pit cycle, the #2 WRT Audi sat second, and the #99 had recovered to third. Whereas in Pro Am, the leader was still the #47 AF Corse Ferrari by over a pit stop margin, the #51 still yet to recover from the drive-through which put stop to the charge Duncan Cameron had made for the class lead.

After such a promising start to the race, Von Ryan Racing’s woes continued when both the #58 and #59 McLarens were handed drive-through penalties, before the #59 was forced to pit once more for a puncture. The pair were outside the top 20 after having only suffered from accident damage; on the reliability front, they’d run perfectly.

The #6 Phoenix Audi dived into the pitlane for an unexpected check up after a wild spin at the top of Eau Rouge. Marcel Fassler was behind the wheel and somehow managed to avoid hitting the barriers as he slid sideways across the track at the top of the hill.

It seems to be swinging the way of the VDS crew as the race begins to come to a close, but there’s still seven hours to run; nothing is settled yet.

Stephen Kilbey