This past weekend saw an Audi R8 LMS ultra race car driven to victory in the 2014 Spa 24 Hours
at Belgium’s legendary Spa Francorchamps race track. The winning car was the #1 R8 LMS ultra of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, driven by René Rast, Laurens Vanthoor and Markus Winkelhock. Just seven seconds behind the leader was the Marc VDS BMW Z4 driven by Lucas Luhr, Markus Palttala and Dirk Werner, which looked set to win but suffered brake problems and later took the risk of not changing tires in the closing stage. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT’s sister R8 driven by Christopher Mies, James Nash and Frank Stippler took the final podium spot.
The winning car started the race from the pole position and had been leading it for the first two hours. After some accidents early on, the winning car dropped to position six but managed to take the lead again after the seventh hour. Different pit stop strategies caused the lead to change several times, between the winning car and the BMW Z4 of Marc VDS, with the Audi ultimately emerging the victor.
With the latest win, Audi has impressively demonstrated its endurance racing expertise this year. In June, the brand with the four rings won the 24 Hours of Le Mans
for an amazing 13th time using its R18 e-tron quattro. Only a week following this victory, the brand celebrated its next 24-hour race win at the Nürburgring
with the R8 LMS ultra. Now, the third endurance race victory within six weeks was scored at Spa. With that, Audi, just like in 2012, has won three major international motorsport classics in the same year.
The weekend’s Spa 24 Hours was one of the toughest in years. There were a number of accidents at the start of the race, which were followed by four long safety car periods. Three attempts to restart the race were immediately followed by more incidents. The worst was the crash involving Marcus Mahy and Vadim Kogay, with both drivers in a Ferrari 458. Mahy was unconscious and needed to be airlifted to hospital, but has since been released from care. Kogay was also taken to hospital but has been released as well.