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JOTA Scores First Outright Win in Restarted 6H Spa

Will Stevens, Callum Ilott score first WEC Hypercar win for privateer team…

Photo: Julien Delfosse/DPPI

Hertz Team JOTA scored its first outright win in the FIA World Endurance Championship as well as the first for a privateer entry in the series’ Hypercar era in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

The No. 12 Porsche 963 shared as a duo by Will Stevens and Callum Ilott triumphed in a one hour, 44 minute run to the flag ahead of the No. 6 Penske Porsche of Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor and Andre Lotterer.

Completing the podium was the No. 50 Ferrari 499P driven by Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen.

Key to JOTA’s victory was the fact that Ilott was one of a handful of drivers to have made a pit stop immediately before the red flag that brought the race to a halt in the penultimate hour after the huge crash involving Earl Bamber and Sean Gelael.

WEC officials made the unusual decision to extend the race for the period of the red flag delay, which effectively turned the race into a two-stint sprint for the Hypercar runners.

Ilott and Estre ran 10th and 11th places respectively after their pit stops, but soon cycled to the front of the field as the other Hypercar runners made their stops, with a few cars having to pit under the safety car for emergency service.

The No. 36 Alpine A424 also notably made a stop before the red flag, but Matthieu Vaxiviere was unable to take advantage as he missed out on the pass-around immediately prior to the race going green.

Ilott soon pulled out a three second gap on Estre when racing resumed, and a quicker final stop by the JOTA mechanics to the tune of 11 seconds put the British driver in a comfortable position to take the checkered flag by an eventual margin of 12.3 seconds.

It marks the first time that a two-driver crew has won a WEC race outright since Shanghai in 2014, as well as a first privateer victory since Rebellion Racing’s final triumph at the Circuit of The Americas in 2020.

Ferrari looked set for a 1-2 finish before the decision was made to resume the race, with the No. 51 car of Alessandro Pier Guidi running some 25 seconds ahead of Fuoco’s No. 50 car at the time of the red flag.

But the car Pier Guidi shared with James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi was disadvantaged by having to take emergency service under the safety car, while Fuoco had sufficient energy to peel into the pits once the race went green.

Although the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid of Kamui Kobayashi briefly got ahead of Fuoco during that pit cycle, the Italian driver was soon able to repass Kobayashi to score Ferrari’s first podium finish of the season.

Pier Guidi ended up behind the second of the Toyotas, Brendon Hartley’s No. 8 car, after his emergency stop but was able to pass both Toyotas on-track to salvage fourth place.

Julien Andlauer was the biggest loser of the post-restart pit cycle, slipping down to eighth, before charging back to fifth, passing both Toyotas as well as the No. 35 Alpine in the process.

Kobayashi took the finish sixth on the road but was handed a five-second time penalty for making contact with Michelle Gatting’s Iron Dames Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2, which left him seventh behind Hartley at the finish.

The No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari of Robert Kubica, Robert Shwartzman and Yifei Ye was eighth, having also lost out after taking emergency service under the safety car.

Completing the top ten were the No. 35 Alpine of Charles Milesi, Paul-Loup Chatin and Jules Gounon and the best of the Peugeot 9X8s, the No. 93 car of Mikkel Jensen and Nico Mueller.

Manthey Porsches Score Fairytale 1-2 in LMGT3

In the LMGT3 class, what turned into a fuel mileage race was won by the No. 91 Manthey EMA Porsche 911 GT3 R, as the German team scored a fairytale 1-2 following Alexander Malykhin’s huge qualifying crash.

Yasser Shahin, Morris Schuring and Richard Lietz took victory after Lietz passed the sister No. 92 car Malykhin shares with Joel Sturm and Klaus Bachler on the very last lap of the race at Les Combes.

The Manthey cars had been circulating second and third on the penultimate lap, as the No. 60 Iron Lynx Lamborghini led until Franck Perera ran out of energy and pitted at the start of the final tour.

Earlier, Perera had battled his way into the lead after passing both Bachler’s Manthey PureRxcing Porsche and the United Autosports McLaren 720S GT3 of Gregoire Saucy, who also had to make a late splash.

Perera and his teammates Matteo Cressoni and Claudio Schiavoni still came away with the final spot on the podium in third, ahead of the sister Iron Dames car of Gatting, Rahel Frey and Sarah Bovy, which lost ground with a long penultimate stop.

Saucy and teammates Nicolas Costa and James Cottingham completed the top five.

RESULTS: 6 Hours of Spa

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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