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Intercontinental GT Challenge

WRT Piling Pressure on Iron Lynx with Three Hours to Go

WRT reduces Iron Lynx’s 24H Spa lead gap heading into the closing stages…

Photo: Jules Benichou/21 Creation

Audi Sport Team WRT brought the No. 51 Iron Lynx Ferrari’s TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa lead down to a handful of seconds with three hours left on the race clock.

Dries Vanthoor and Kelvin van der Linde each drove their No. 32 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo to within a second of Come Ledogar and Nicklas Nielsen respectively, in the 20th and 21st hours of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season-opener.

Alessandro Pier Guidi led at the most recent safety car restart aboard the Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020, with six hours remaining.

The Italian built up a gap over Charles Weerts in the No. 32 WRT Audi over the next stint, handing Ledogar a 10-second cushion over Vanthoor.

However, that gap came down dramatically between five and four hours to go as Vanthoor set consistent fast laps.

Ledogar pitted from his stint earlier than expected after the Belgian got it down to less than a second, aided by the Ferrari getting caught up behind a Pro-Am car for a full lap.

Ledogar jumped out of the Iron Lynx machine and handed over to Nielsen, who emerged with a five-second lead after a slower pit stop from WRT approaching four hours left.

Van der Linde, in for Vanthoor, nonetheless mounted the pressure in the next hour and returned the Audi to the Ferrari’s tail before losing four seconds at the next round of stops, in a repeat of the situation that played out when Vanthoor chased Ledogar in.

Ross Gunn continued in third aboard the Pro-class Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, which was 45 seconds behind van der Linde with three hours remaining.

Robin Frijns dispatched Dennis Marschall to take fourth just before the end of the most recent hour, putting the No. 37 WRT Audi ahead of Audi Sport Team Attempto.

Frijns’s co-driver Nico Mueller took the six-hours-to-go restart in seventh but the No. 37 entry advanced three positions over the next three hours.

Mueller first overtook Nick Tandy’s KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R on the outside entrance to Les Combes, only for the German cars to switch back at the next round of pit stops.

A third drive-through penalty of the race for the Orange1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – after Marco Mapelli tipped the Sky-Tempesta Ferrari around at Bruxelles – turned the WRT-KCMG sixth place duel into the battle for fifth.

Frijns effectively mirrored Mueller’s overtake on Tandy at Les Combes, taking the inside line on this occasion, before going on to pass the No. 66 Attempto Audi which was later awarded a drive-through for repeatedly exceeding track limits.

Tandy was also passed into Les Combes by Andrea Caldarelli in the FFF Lamborghini, which led earlier in the night before picking up two costly pit lane speeding penalties.

Madpanda Motorsport lost its long-held Silver Cup lead with five and a half hours remaining when Tuomoas Tujula planted the No. 159 Garage 59 Aston Martin down the inside of Ricardo Sanchez at the end of the Kemmel Straight.

However, that positional switch turned out to be temporary as Garage 59 lost around 40 seconds at its next pit stop because of a left-side door that wouldn’t close. The Madpdanda Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo returned to the head of the field and held a 20-second lead over Garage 59 heading into the final three hours.

The No. 53 AF Corse Ferrari led the way in Pro-Am, as has been the case since the seventh and most recent safety car intervention, with the No. 52 in second.

The Am Cup-leading Haegeli by T2 Racing Porsche was 34th overall, while 21 of the 58 starting cars have been classified as retirements so far.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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