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Intercontinental GT Challenge

AKKA-ASP’s Fraga Leads on Six Hours Under Safety Car

AKKA-ASP Mercedes back in front as first GTWC Europe points distributed…

Photo: Kevin Pecks/SRO

AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG driver Felipe Fraga overtook Lamborghini’s Andrea Caldarelli for the lead of the Total 24 Hours of Spa and stayed ahead up to the first GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup points distribution mark on six hours.

Fraga, who shares the No. 88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo with Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy, reclaimed a lead that the pole-sitting AKKA-ASP entry lost to the No. 63 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo in the pits during hour three.

The Brazilian led at six hours under the third safety car of the race after drama for two Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos.

First, Sainteloc Racing’s Am Cup-class R8 went off at Blanchimont, before Kelvin van der Linde parked the race victory and Endurance Cup points-contending No. 31 Audi Sport Team WRT machine at the top of Eau Rouge with smoke enveloping the rear of the car.

Van der Linde had been running second to Calderelli in the sixth hour before serving a drive-through penalty for his car breaching track limits four times.

This dropped the WRT Audi to eighth, while van der Linde came in again for a short pit stop during the Full Course Yellow period that preceded the mechanical problem.

After losing the lead to Caldarelli’s co-driver Marco Mapelli in the third-hour pit cycle, Fraga slipped to fourth during a fifth-hour round of stops behind KCMG Porsche driver Michael Christensen and WRT’s van der Linde.

However, track limits-related drive-throughs for the second and third-placed drivers enabled Fraga to get back on the tail of Caldarelli in the Lamborghini.

At the close of six hours Fraga, Marciello and Boguslavskiy – who is yet to drive the AKKA-ASP car – earned 12 points towards their Endurance Cup tally to move clear at the top of the championship standings.

Caldarelli, Mapelli and Dennis Lind picked up nine points, their first score of the season, while GPX Racing Porsche drivers Patrick Pilet, Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet gained seven points for being third.

What is now the leading Porsche entry benefited from several other front-runners receiving penalties for track limits, including the No. 4 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG and the SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020.

In fourth was the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari, followed by Audi Sport Team Attempto, Emil Frey Racing and Honda Racing.

The best of the Bentley Continental GT3s had moved into the top ten by the end of hour six, behind the recovering KCMG Porsche and the No. 98 ROWE Racing 911.

Silver Cup was led on six hours by the No. 78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini, which briefly relinquished its lead to the rival No. 5 HRT Mercedes-AMG before getting back ahead in time for the Endurance Cup points distribution.

Scores will also be handed out on 12 hours and at the end of the race.

The Pro-Am leader at one-quarter distance was Maxime Martin in the No. 188 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, ahead of fellow brand factory driver Giancarlo Fisichella in the No. 93 Sky-Tempesta Racing Ferrari.

The No. 129 Lamborghini from Raton Racing was the leader in Am Cup.

In what could impact the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli standings this weekend, both Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3s hit trouble in the first quarter.

The Indianapolis 8 Hour-winning squad’s No. 34 car was given a drive-through for turning around the No. 32 WRT Audi which resulted in the second safety car of the race.

Walkenhorst’s No. 35 car then struck the wall at Turn 9 which necessitated repairs.

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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