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Von Ryan McLaren Leads First Hour at Spa

Von Ryan Racing leads opening hour at Spa…

Photo: Vincent Wouters

Photo: Vincent Wouters

Alvaro Parente leads the Total 24 Hours of Spa in the white No. 59 Von Ryan Racing McLaren 650S GT3, after an incident-packed opening hour in Belgium.

The two Von Ryan Racing McLaren 650Ss of Kevin Estre and Alvaro Parente were already first and second as the cars headed into Eau Rouge for the first time, with pole-sitter Stippler right behind in third place.

Estre and Parente pulled away from the two Audi drivers, but their progress was stopped when Gilles Duqueine crashed the No. 90 Duqueine Engineering Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 at Les Combes on lap 8. Duqueine was okay, but the Ferrari suffered substantial damage and was the first official retirement.

The safety car picked up the fourth placed car, which gave the Von Ryan Racing McLarens and the No. 1 Audi a big lead over the rest of the field. On lap 15 the race was restarted, with Rast moving into second place at the end of the lap.

Moments later the race was back under safety car again, when Karim Ojjeh crashed the No. 15 Boutsen Ginion BMW Z4 GT3 at Les Combes. The crash caused substantial damage to the barrier, which meant the remainder of the hour was completed behind the safety car.

Several teams made their pit stops behind the safety car, which allowed Bentley drivers Maxime Soulet and Guy Smith to take second and third, at the expense of Estre and Rast.

At the one-hour mark it as therefore Alvaro Parente, who had not made his stop yet, who led the race.

Toni Vilander, driving the No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, went off track on lap 5, the Finnish driver was able to bring the car back to the pits, before rejoining in last place.

Marcel ten Caat (@marceltencaat) is a contributor to Sportscar365 and other publications including

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