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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Bachler Leads Opening Hour in Dinamic Porsche

Bachler gives Dinamic Motorsport early lead at TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa…

Photo: Kevin Pecks

Klaus Bachler overtook Raffaele Marciello on the first run down to Eau Rouge and went on the lead the opening hour of the 74th TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.

Bachler kept the No. 54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R ahead of Marciello’s pole-sitting No. 88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo throughout the first stint, despite the Swiss driver getting close before their pair encountered slower traffic.

Marciello remained within a second of Bachler for around 20 minutes and latched onto the Austrian’s tail around halfway through the hour, but fell back to more than a second adrift when he got caught up behind Stephen Grove’s backmarker Porsche at Pouhon.

Marciello then set about reducing the gap again, and was just under half a second behind Bachler when the first hour expired and the first scheduled pit stops took place.

Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini driver Mirko Bortolotti and Audi Sport Team Tresor’s Christopher Haase ran third and fifth during the stint, however both encountered punctures that caused their cars to drop down the order.

Bortolotti pitted his No. 63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo with a deflated right-rear Pirelli P Zero DHF, while Haase’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II had a flat left-rear.

Sandy Mitchell’s Gold Cup-leading Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini, the seventh-placed Audi Sport Team Attempto Audi of Ricardo Feller and The Heart of Racing by TF Sport’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3 also experienced tire dramas before the 60-minute mark.

The setbacks for Bortolotti and Haase meant that Luca Stolz moved up to third for Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed, around five seconds behind leader Bachler.

Stolz started the race from third but was overtaken by Bortolotti into first corner.

Michael Christensen stood fourth after an hour in the GPX Martini Racing Porsche, with Iron Lynx Ferrari driver Antonio Fuoco moving up to fifth from 10th on the grid.

Fuoco ran one position ahead of Silver Cup leader Fabian Schiller of Al Manar Racing by HRT, whose nearest rival was Benjamin Goethe down in 14th position overall.

Mitchell’s puncture elevated Lucas Auer to the Gold Cup lead; the DTM ace driving a Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG.

Alessio Picariello held a commanding early lead in the Pro-Am category aboard Herberth Motorsport’s No. 24 Porsche, while Tim Mueller held sway in Bronze Cup for SPS Automotive Performance.

Nick Tandy reached 30th position after battling back from 66th and last on the grid due to his KCMG Porsche crew failing to set times in two of the qualifying session.

The only penalty of the first hour was a five-second addition at the next pit stop of the SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG, which punted the CMR Bentley Continental GT3 into the gravel at Campus.

The marshals were able to get CMR driver Nigel Bailly’s vehicle going without the need for a safety car.

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

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