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Total 24 Hours of Spa comes to life as racing resumes in the Ardennes

28 July 2019

The Total 24 Hours of Spa came to life as the battle reached its final hours, with racing resuming in exciting style after a lengthy stoppage due to heavy rain at the Belgian circuit.

The event was under red flag conditions from 05.40 onwards, but with the rain abating as the morning progressed the cars rolled off pit lane at 11.15. After circulating behind the safety car for two laps they went racing again with five and a half hours left on the clock.

The leading #63 Grasser Lamborghini immediately divide into the pits to serve its technical pit stop, promoting the #34 Walkenhorst BMW into the lead and the #54 Dinamic Porsche to second place.

But, with both of these cars also needing to take their five-minute technical stop, the theoretical leader was the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari. It was by no means a comfortable advantage, however, as Mikhail Aleshin had Rene Rast in the #1 Audi Sport Team WRT car for company.

Both would hit trouble as they moved through the pack. Rast appeared to have issues first, making contact with the #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin on the run to Eau Rouge. The Audi was able to continue without problems, while the Aston limped back to the pits with significant damage.

This was not a simple case, however, as Aleshin had already made contact with the Aston before it came together with Rast. The incident was still under investigation at 13.00 CEST.

Rast then caught and passed Aleshin, after which the Russian pilot had his own problems. The Ferrari driver lost the car at the exit of Pouhon, sliding back across the track before making contact with an oncoming Nissan.

This all but ended SMP's hopes of winning the race – though the crew of Aleshin, Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina could yet claim the Endurance Cup title today depending on the final race result.

When the next round of pits stops concluded the #54 Porsche and #34 BMW led, but with their five-minute stops to come the #1 Audi was effectively in control. Its advantage was decreasing, however, with Michael Christensen (#20 GPX Porsche) and Yelmer Buurman (#4 Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon) in hot pursuit.

The Pro-Am battle appeared to be over barring a problem for the #97 Oman Racing by TF Sport Aston Martin, which runs two laps clear of its closest challenger int the hands of Salih Yoluc. The #78 Barwell Lamborghini topped the Silver Cup class, with Sandy Mitchell at the wheel of the British squad's machine. The #33 Rinaldi Ferrari looked strong in the Am Cup classification, running well ahead of the #77 Barwell Lamborghini.

The 2019 Total 24 Hours of Spa will conclude at 16.30 this afternoon.

Follow full coverage of the race here.