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Lotus wins three-hour sprint at Spa-Francorchamps

In the Lotus Elan, Ben Barker and Gordon Shedden emerged victorious in the hard-fought 2024 edition of the "3 Hours of Spa," marking a promising start to this year's Iberian Historic Endurance season.

The race proved to be particularly challenging for the pack of over sixty Touring and GT cars up to 1976. Despite the consistently unpredictable weather conditions at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the teams' strategies ultimately made the difference. The pace of the leaders remained intense throughout, resembling a sprint race.

Harry Barton and Oliver Reuben, driving a TVR Griffith 200, started from pole position and consistently held their position at the front. However, mechanical issues (piston failure) with the British car forced them out after twenty laps. Subsequently, the battle for victory ensued between the Rolner family's two Porsche 911 3.0 RS, known for their high top speed, and the agile Lotus Elans of the British teams, which required no refuelling but started with full tanks equivalent to 10% of the car's weight.

Lars Rolner and Belgian Touring Car champion Pierre-Alain Thibaut seized the lead in the opening meters of the race, but eventually relinquished it to the pink Porsche of the same team on lap 18. Anette Rolner and Michael Holden maintained their position at the front for fifteen laps until they were overtaken by the winning Lotus Elan.

Ford WEC team factory driver Ben Barker and former BTCC champion Gordon Shedden took the lead on lap 34 and maintained it for the next twenty laps. Although not the fastest car on the track, the Lotus secured victory in the H-1965 class, primarily due to spending the least amount of time in the pits—just over four minutes. The key to success in the race ultimately lay in pit stop efficiency.

John Tordorff and Andrew Jordan, last year's winners, consistently held a top-four position and advanced to second place in the final hour. However, an irregularity in their stint timing incurred a penalty, relegating them to third place overall and second in the H-1965 category.

After the race, Lars Rolner and Pierre-Alain Thibaut were promoted to second place, securing victory in the H-1976 class. They finished ahead of their team's other car and the Jaguar E-Type of Rhea Sautter and Andy Newall. The third-place finish in the H-1976 class, traditionally dominated by Porsche, was unexpectedly claimed by the Ford Escort MK1 of Pantelis Christoforou, Kerry Michael, and Andrew Constantinou.

In the H-1971 class, the TVR Tuscan of Britons Connor Kay and Ben Caisley initially led the race for twenty laps until retiring. With their main competitors out, Christian Oldendorff and Finn Gehrsitz clinched victory with the consistent and reliable Alfa Romeo GTAm, finishing more than a minute and a half ahead of the Portuguese duo José Carvalhosa and Guilherme Dal Maso who drove a Porsche 911 ST. Local favorites Emil de Weerdt, Luc Branckaerts, and Bjorn Kabergs secured third place in their Ford Mustang. Both cars led their category for a while.

Christian Oldendorff and Finn Gehrsitz not only celebrated victory in the H-1965 class but also secured the Performance Index win for the first race of the season. Olivier Muytjens and Brice Pineau finished fourth in the H-1965 class, marking their best race since joining the Historic Endurance pack. Andy Yool and Luk Wos completed the podium driving the "rare" Turner GT MKII to the end of the race.

Following this outstanding season-opener at one of the world's most beautiful circuits, the Historic Endurance season continues on the Iberian Peninsula with another thrilling event scheduled for May 25-26 at the Circuito de Jerez. This event, part of the Jerez Classic programme, promises to deliver another great spectacle for classic racing fans.




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