So just how crazy was the 2016 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps?
Well, in this writers experience there has seldom, if ever, been a race that saw incident and/ or accident affect so large a proportion of a racing field.
How much incident and accident?
Let’s take a look:
#1 Porsche: 2 x left front punctures, one 100 minute plus spell in the garage to replace front axle ERS gearbox, rejoined to push for 70% finish, scored 4th in LMP1 after Toyota post race penalty.
#2 Porsche 919 Hybrid: Main ERS system failed in early running leaving the car to run without most of its hybrid power for almost the whole race (the exhaust recovery system is believed to have been unaffected). Ran otherwise untroubled to 2nd overall and pulled out bigger advantage in Championship lead.
#4 Bykolles CLM:Engine issue caused lengthy spell in garage, fought back to 6th overall, third in LMP1 Privateer.
#5 Toyota TS050: Engine failure whilst leading the race. Team pushed car back out for an astonishing final lap, powered only by the hybrid system (no engine power) to secure a points finish, fifth on the road in class before a post race penalty saw the car dealt a four lap penalty for Kazuki Nakajima not having completed minimum driving time. If that penalty stand the car will not have completed the required 70% of the race winners distance. Interestingly the post race examination of the car, despite Sebastien Buemi losing power to drive the car beyond La Source after crossing the line, showed substantial charge left in the battery pack. More to learn (and to unlock) from this package yet for Toyota).
#6 Toyota TS050: Engine failure linked to an electrical fault, plus accident damage after Mike Conway misjudged his braking into Bus Stop, this requiring a pit stop for a new nose section and repairs to side pod.
#7 Audi R18: The #7 had over 14 minutes garage time for a replacement floor section after Benoit Tréluyer damaged the item over a kerb. There was another unplanned stop for a large quantity of rubber debris to be removed from the cooling ducts and two instances of the #7 car getting front end damage for contact at La Source, Marcel Fässler at the wheel for both. The first saw the car pit for a new nose section, and receive a drive through penalty, the second saw the car run to the finish with substantial damage to the nose on the front right corner. The car eventually finished fifth overall, third in the LMP1 Manufacturers battle.
#8 Audi R18: Even the winning car needed a spell in the garage after telemetry indicated an Aero issue developing, the car receiving a replacement rear deck. The car was also reported to have had a failed Tyre Pressure Monitoring System. The win was Oliver Jarvis and Lucas di Grassi’s first in the FIA WEC, and the first for Audi for di Grassi (Jarvis took a win at Sebring in 2013).
#12 Rebellion R-One AER: was entirely reliable for the whole race but lost out to the sister #13 car for third place overall and the LMP1 Privateer race by getting caught on the wrong side of the Safety Car lottery after the shunt for the #66 Ford, losing almost a lap in the process.
#13 Rebellion R-One AER: Had a longer than normal stop to replace the nose section after contact with the #44 Manor Oreca at La Source, Dom Kraihamer stranded for around a minute as he attempted to recover to the pits. Despite this the car ran otherwise faultlessly, got the luck of the draw with the Safety Car and came home for a third consecutive class win, maintaining a 100% record in 2016, and taking a second consecutive overall podium finish in the 2016 FIA WEC. Messrs Kraihamer, Tuscher and Imperatori now sit second in the Drivers Championship!
#30 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2: No major incidents observed but simply not on the pace here sadly.
#31 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2: Pipo Derani was spun around in the early running but the car had an untroubled run thereafter.
#26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 05: contact with a GT car caused a puncture that required bodywork repair and replacement dropping the #26 out of contention for the top slots. Fifth in class, a lap down, was as good a result as could have been salvaged from there.
#27 SMP Racing BR01: A quiet race for the #27 ended during the Safety Car Period for the recovery of the #66 Ford soon after Nic Minassian became the first car to encounter the debris field, the #27 running through it at speed and stopping out on track soon afterwards, the #27 not restarting.
#35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine A460: Ran solidly in the top four in class (after some early race contact) for much of the race until a late race incident saw it make heavy contact with the #88 Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche, dumping the 911 out of second place in class and the Alpine into retirement.
#36 Signatech Alpine A460: Took the win after a relatively untroubled run, though we believe it was Nicolas Lapierre’s touch to the rear for the #45 at La Source at the race start that caused the Manor car to spin. The pace in the car after a late race fuel splash was very impressive as was Lapierre’s ‘three wide’ move, to take the lead from Derani, arguably the move of the race. Gustavo Menezes and Stephane Richelmi both claim their first WEC class wins.
#37 SMP Racing BR01: contact at the start led to a puncture and subsequent body damage, the recovering #37 was later collected by Mike Conway’ outbraking himself in the #6 Toyota. The car suffered other minor contacts too on the way to a distant eighth place class finish, a late race drive through penalty the cherry on the icing on a disappointing cake!
#38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S: Contact in the early laps saw the #38 needing a repair to the left mirror, costing the team almost two laps, then a penalty for Simon Dolan, blamed entirely for the incident that saw Nicki Thiim in the barriers though careful examination of the video post-race seemed to indicate that the GT driver might well have been at the very least just as much at fault. 6th in LMP2 was a disappointing end to a four year podium streak at this race.
#42 Strakka Racing Gibson 015 S: Engine failure saw the #42 post the races second retirement.
#43 RBR Racing with Morand Ligier JS P2: a post race 23 second penalty for a pit stop infringement didn’t affect the Championship leader’s 4th place class finish. There was plenty of drama on track though, the car very much in the mix but a seeming magnet for contact, at least three separate incidents, including both contacts with the #7 Audi (neither of which seemed to be the LMP2 cars fault) and left the team needing to change the rear clip.
#44 Manor WEC Oreca 05: A strong run ended effectively by contact from the rear from the #13 Rebellion and a brake failure some little time later – a lengthy pit stop ensued dropping the car out of contention, eighth in the class, 15th overall was all that could be salvaged.
#45 Manor WEC Oreca 05: a hit from the rear at La Source at the start saw the #45 turned around and needing to recover from the back of the field. Thereafter it was a fine run back into contention, Merhi contesting second place in the closing stages before a penalty for passing the pit exit red light saw him dealt a drive through, fighting back to a deserved class podium (3rd) 9th overall for the car not scoring team points, but welcome points for the drivers.
LM GTE Pro
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE: A very fast, very consistent run from the #51 pair looked set to harvest a first WEC race win for James Calado until the bitter gall of a late race engine failure ended their day. Calado’s emotion in the car in the garage told the story.
#66 Ford Chip Ganassi Ford GT: A strong run from both Fords ended for the #66 with turbo issues, the car starting a recovery drive before Stefan Mücke suffered a HUGE accident at Eau Rouge, the car snapping away and impacting the barriers hard before coming to rest in the centre of the track. The new safety features assisted the drivers extraction, Stefan later diagnosed as suffering from (just!) heavy bruising. No word yet on what caused the shunt but a puncture is suspected.
#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Ford GT: An early race clash between Marino Franchitti and GTE Am leader Rui Aguas turned both cars around and provided a minor delay to an otherwise consistent race from the all British crewed Ford, a minor contact with the #31 Ligier caused no real drama. Second place was the best result so far for the WEC Ford effort.
#77 Dempsey Proton Porsche 911 RSR: Described by one colleague post-race as “Suspiciously invisible” throughout. This was a stealthy run to fourth in class that saw little or no dramas, and they’ll be hoping, little or no reason for the powers that be to take a look in their BoP satchel!
#71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE: A faultless run in the #71 saw Sam Bird and Davide Rigon able to take full advantage of the sister car’s misfortune, back to back wins sees the #71 in a strong Championship lead, but the Ferraris were much, MUCH faster than the rest, what will the post race data tell the rule makers about potential BoP for the big one?
#95 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE: The Aston Martins had a BoP break for Spa and it seemed to help somewhat! The race for the #95 Young Driver car though ended abruptly after contact with the #38 Gibson sent Nicki Thiim into the barriers, the car rolling but the Dane walking away thankfully unscathed. One minor point, the extended diffuser ‘bustle’ survived intact!
#97 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE: A good strong run to the podium for the #97, third a marked improvement in recent form.
#50 Larbre Competition Corvette C7.R: A reliable run was spoiled by penalties for track limits, principally with the Corvette in the hands of Yutaka Yamagishi, a drive through and a stop and hold could have cost the team a better result than the subsequent, and very welcome, third in class.
#78 KCMG Porsche 911 RSR: Came close, very, very close, to a podium finish, making it home just 0.161 behind the Larbre Corvette. Track Limits warnings and minor contact saw this effort have one of the quieter 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps!
#83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia: Rui Aguas had a stellar start in the #83 running amidst the GTE Pro pack until an incident out of Les Combes after 40 minutes running saw him tangle with the #67 Ford, the moment spinning him out of the class lead. A couple of later minor contacts caused few delays, the car dropping back a little as Francois Perrodo found himself battling a gaggle of Pro drivers. A podium finish (3rd) was a deserved result.
#86 Gulf Racing UK Porsche 911 RSR: Warnings for track limits and then a penalty, a single (at least observed from here) off track excursion and an unplanned pitstop top replace a rear light saw the #86 crew have a rather less dramatic Round 2, fifth in class their result.
#88 Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche 911 RSR: A strong run, setting up a run to the podium for Pat Long, was spoiled after the car was hit hard from behind at La Source by the #35 Baxi DC Alpine whilst the Porsche was running second in class! The team managed to get the car back out to recover points for 6th.
#98 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE: A rare (in this race!) faultless run saw the Aston Martin move to the front and secure a relatively untroubled victory.
And this summary makes little mention of the very large number of warnings issued for track limit violations.
Our guess is that after that little lot the Drivers briefing at Le Mans will be a long, detailed, and rather pointed affair!