Spa 24 Hours: mid-race update as BMW continues to dominate

BMW’s M3 GT2 continues to lead at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps with car No.79, the sister No.78 machine dropped to seventh during the night following an ignition issue but is now back up to 4th position, 4 laps behind the GT2 Porsches of Bergmeister and Leitz.

Several rain showers made for difficult conditions at the “Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps”. Shortly after 20:00hrs, despite a damp track, the BMW drivers decided to continue on dry tyres to avoid losing time during the tyre change. The decision proved to be the right one, as the circuit soon allowed them to start setting faster lap times again. One hour later, however, the rain was so heavy that they had to switch to wet tyres.

After dropping back to 14th, following a problem with the starter, BMW’s No.78 M3 made up ground during the night. Running in tenth, Jörg Müller (DE) handed over to Uwe Alzen (DE) on lap 226. Alzen managed to move up another two positions before Pedro Lamy (PT) continued the trio’s fight back.

The Portuguese driver benefited from an accident between the second-placed Ferrari F430 GT (#2) and the no. 50 Audi R8 LMS, so that Jörg Müller could rejoin the race on lap 316 in fifth. The car is currently in 4th place.

We’ve also been closely following the United Autosports team, featuring ex-F1 driver Mark Blundell in his first drive at Spa Francorchamps since he drove for McLaren in 1995.

07.55 - Dean hands the car over to Blundell at the United Autosport's pit stop

“This is my first race here since 1995 when I was in a McLaren,” said Blundell. “It’s changed in a few places, like at the bus stop chicane and some new curbs. I have been out of the driver’s seat for several years now but I never said officially that I was retiring and it never came in to my mind to retire – I have just been doing other things.

“This opportunity came up and it is an attraction for me to drive a modern-day GT sports car and try to be competitive. I’m not looking to set the world alight but just come back and enjoy it and I think this opportunity with Zak Brown and United Autosports, in an Audi R8 LMS, the whole combination, just seems to be the right thing to do and to be racing at Spa, in a 24-hour race, just tops it all off.”

The GT3 R8 LMS driven by Blundell, Zak Brown, Richard Dean and Eddie Cheever is currently in 6th place, 12 laps down from the 4th place BMW.

You can keep track of the race by following the FIA GT live timing screens and we’ll be broadcasting a video summary of the race on SkiddPlayer this coming Monday.

You can also follow Mark Blundell’s tweets on @markblundellF1 and there’s also live TV pictures and commentary from Johnny Herbert and David Addison at the Total24hours website..

Photos courtesy of: BMW Motorsports, United Autosports, Malcolm Griffiths/LAT.