The pole-sitting No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo has retired from the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa after a shock absorber failure, taking Mercedes-AMG’s lead car out of the race.
Jules Gounon was running as high as third overall through the morning hours with sparks flying from the rear of the car with an apparent problem.
“It was the hardest triple stint of my life,” Gounon said. “We had a broken damper since four in the rear. We were waiting for a Full Course Yellow otherwise our race would be dead.
“Finally in my last stint, the damper completely broke.”
The No. 88 car’s retirement has put the No. 95 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 into contention with Ross Gunn elevated to third, behind the No. 51 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 of Nicklas Nielsen, who continues to lead the race overall.
Kelvin van der Linde runs second in the No. 32 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, meanwhile.
The No. 63 Orange1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo has been another car to drop down the running order after being forced to serve its second drive-through penalty of the race for speeding in the pit lane.
A brief Full Course Yellow for debris with 9 hours and 56 minutes remaining did not lead to a safety car neutralization, which would have put the Lamborghini potentially back in contention.
Mirko Bortolotti currently runs in eighth, behind the No. 38 JOTA McLaren 720S GT3 of Rob Bell and Patric Niederhauser’s Audi Sport Team Sainteloc entry in sixth and fifth, respectively.
An accident in the paddock for Laurens Vanthoor has sent the Belgian to the hospital for treatment, leaving his co-drivers Maxime Martin and Nick Tandy to complete the remainder of the race in the No. 47 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R, which currently is seventh.
Vanthoor said on social media that he was hit by a quad all-terrain vehicle while in the paddock.
The No. 37 WRT Audi has been among the handful of cars to have already taken its mandatory four-minute technical stop, along with the No. 95 Aston, which came just after the window opened past the halfway mark.