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Estre Charges to the Front in Wet 24H Spa Hour 1

Estre’s string of overtakes highlights first hour at Spa; rain subsiding after early SC running…

Image: SRO

Kevin Estre made up 10 places in the opening hour of the Total 24 Hours of Spa to take an early lead in the GPX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.

The Porsche works driver made up five places from his 11th-position grid spot in the opening half-hour before hunting down the leaders when the early heavy rain subsided.

Round three of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli started under safety car conditions due to poor conditions that had been building in the run up to the 4:30 p.m. race start.

Pole-sitter Maro Engel controlled the pace when the 72-car field was released at the end of lap three, with the German driver opening up a five-second gap to Earl Bamber in the No. 117 KUS75 Team Bernhard Porsche.

However, the pair came under threat from Estre as the hour came to a close and a dry line started to emerge around the 7km Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

The reigning FIA World Endurance GT co-champion first overtook Rene Rast’s No. 1 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo for fourth, before sweeping around the outside of Frederic Makowiecki’s No. 998 ROWE Racing Porsche at Blanchimont.

Estre then progressed to second by out-braking Bamber into La Source a few corners later and was right on Engel’s tail at the end of the next lap.

Evading an on-track confrontation, Engel chose to pit his Black Falcon car to release Estre’s GPX Porsche into the lead of the race as the first round of green-flag stops got underway.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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