Audi beat out BMW and Mercedes-Benz at the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, running the legendary Spa-Francorchamps course in an R8 LMS.
The V10-engined R8 beat out 57 teams in the GT3 category, leading 22 out of the 24 hours. Audi Sport Team WRT took the lead as well as 4th place in cars #33 and #32, respectively. Its drivers consisted of two DTM champions Mattias Ekström and Timo Scheider, as well as endurance racing veteran Greg Franchi.
By midnight, the top three cars were all Audis. But an hour later, the #99 R8 fielded by Marc Basseng, Christopher Haase and Frank Stippler slid off from a wet patch and retired. Its #98 teammate lost second gear in an accident and spent an hour getting a new transmission, but managed to claw its way back up from 36th to 14th—and with Mike Rockenfeller behind the wheel, it even managed the fastest race lap at 2m 20.286s.
The #32 car driven by Stéphane Ortelli made a spectacular comeback: after qualifying down in 41st, she drove to 2nd place within the first 90 minutes. After a penalty and a suspension swap sent it back to 42nd place, but skilled driving allowed it to finish fourth.
“This is without doubt the most important victory for the Audi R8 LMS and our still relatively young customer racing program,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, the man in charge of Audi’s motorsport program. “After just a few hours we only had one iron still in the fire – but we won with this car. This shows our strong nerves and team spirit because everybody helped to take the win with the only remaining car.”