Aston Martin translated its pole sweep into a double class victory on Saturday, with the British manufacturer claiming GTE-Pro and GTE-Am honors in the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Fernando Rees took the No. 99 Aston Martin Vantage V8 to a hard-fought victory in GTE-Pro, benefiting from a pit lane penalty for Gianmaria Bruni’s AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia in the closing minutes.
Bruni was handed a one-minute stop-and-go penalty for his crew not properly handling tires during the No. 51 car’s final stop with 54 minutes to go.
While a quicker stop for the Aston Martin got Rees out ahead of Bruni, the defending GTE-Pro World Champion reeled in the Brazilian and passed him just moments before being forced to serve his penalty with four minutes to go.
It gave clear sailing to Rees, who along with Richie Stanaway and Alex MacDowall each celebrated their first GTE-Pro class victories.
The No. 92 Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR of Fred Makowiecki and Richard Lietz came home second, followed by the sister entry of GTE debutants Kevin Estre and Sven Mueller, with both cars capitalizing on the Ferrari’s misfortune.
Both Porsches rebounded following challenging races, which included penalties for Lietz and Estre, the latter for his run-in with Nick Tandy in the opening hour.
Bruni and co-driver Toni Vilander finished fifth, ahead of the No. 97 Aston Martin of Darren Turner, Stefan Muecke and Rob Bell, which was on an out-of-sequence pit stop strategy, due to an early race puncture, that ultimately didn’t play out.
Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana, meanwhile, scored a flag-to-flag victory in GTE-Am, with the trio taking their No. 98 Aston Martin to a 1 minute and 45-second win over the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari in second.
It marked their second class win of the season and the only team to be undefeated in poles and race wins heading into next month’s double points-paying 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The No. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari completed the GTE-Am podium in third.
RESULTS: Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps