Sainteloc Racing Audi comes from a lap down to win Spa 24 Hours – GT

Audi took a fourth victory in the Spa 24 Hours with Sainteloc drivers Markus Winkelhock, Christopher Haase and Jules Gounon.

Sainteloc Racing, running as a factory-backed team for the first time, scored an 11-second victory over the M-Sport Bentley of Maxime Soulet, Andy Soucek and Vincent Abril at the end of the double-points Endurance Cup round of the Blancpain GT Series.

The race-winning factory Audi R8 LMS had to come back from over a lap down after losing time during the night with a mis-threaded wheel, which brought Gounon back into the pits after one slow lap.

It emerged as a true contender on Sunday morning, and then as the favourite for the win, when it became clear that the Auto Sport Promotion Mercedes-AMG GT3 that had led much of the second half of the race would fall foul of the 65 minutes maximum stint rule.

Haase said: “I can’t believe I’ve just won the Spa 24 Hours – it is incredible.”

The #8 Bentley was another car to fall off the lead lap during the night, but came back into contention on Sunday morning.

Soulet took over second position at the final round of pitstops when Raffaele Marciello, who shared the best of ASP’s fleet of Mercedes with Edoardo Mortara and Michael Meadows, had to be held to ensure that he did not exceed the maximum stint length ahead of the chequered flag.

That dropped the Mercedes behind the Bentley, and it trailed it by 40 seconds at the flag.

The Porsche 911 GT3-R run by LMP1 driver Timo Bernhard’s team took fourth place with Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen.

The Team 75 Bernhard Porsche had to fight back from a three-minute stop-go penalty early in the race.

The two factory WRT Audis took fifth and sixth positions as the last cars classified on the lead lap.

The #1 car shared by Rene Rast, Nico Muller and Antonio Garcia had challenged for the lead on Sunday, but lost time in its penultimate pitstop, which dropped it behind the sister car of Christopher Mies, Connor de Phillippi and Frederic Vervisch.

BMW, seeking a third consecutive victory in the Spa 24 Hours, finished 10th with the factory Rowe M6 GT3 shared by Bruno Spengler, Nicky Catsburg and Tom Blomqvist.

That car had briefly led the race on Sunday but a damper problem in the 20th hour meant it ended up four laps behind the winner.

The AF Corse-run Kaspersky Ferrari and the full-factory Grasser Lamborghini that had exchanged the lead for much of the first half of the race ended their respective races in the barriers.

The Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Marco Cioci tangled with Marciello at La Source and sustained suspension damage.

The Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Mirko Bortolotti, Andreas Caldarelli and Christian Englehart went off at Fagnes with a braking issue.

Pro Am honours went to the Black Falcon Mercedes driven by Maximilian Gotz, Miguel Toril, Marvin Kirchhofer and Oliver Morley.

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