The famed Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium hosted the second stage of the 2015 World Endurance Championship this weekend. By far more enticing than the previous event at Silverstone, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps saw Audi Sport Team Joest taking its second win of the season, despite the Porsche 919 Hybrids being quicker during qualifying. The battle for victory was tight in all four categories, with the winners barely managing to put a lap between them and the second-place cars.

A close race with plenty of action to talk about, as well as penalties and mechanical failures that prevented some from winning and allowed others to move up the championship ladder.

The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps previewed the 24 Hours of Le Mans race coming later this summer. Of course, many teams will change strategies for the event that’s four times longer than the race at Spa, but this weekend’s results give us a good idea of what to expect at the Circuit de la Sarthe in June.

Continue reading for the full results.

LMP1

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Audi’s decision to test the Le Mans-spec, low-downforce version of the R18 e-tron at the Spa-Francorchamps proved successful, as the No. 7 car of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler, and Beoit Treulyer took the checkered flag after six hours and 176 laps around the Belgian track. The winning R18 crossed the finish line only 13 seconds from the No. 18 Porsche 919 Hybrid shared by Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas, and Neel Jani after a thrilling fight.

After qualifying first, second, and third Saturday, it looked as if Porsche was ready to make an impressive race at Spa-Francorchamps and score its first win of the season. But even though the No. 17 919 Hybrid of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard, and Brendon Hartley led the early stages of the race, a drive-through penalty and a damper problem helped Audi take the lead.

While Audi and Porsche each took two spots in the top four at the end of the six-hour race, Toyota had to settle with a disappointing fifth position. Lotterer, Fassler, and Treulyer gave Audi its second win of the season, cementing its spot at the top of the manufacturers’ championship. Porsche maintains second place, while Toyota trails in third.

Top 5 Class Results:
1. Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron quattro (No. 7)
2. Porsche Team 919 Hybrid (No. 18)
3. Porsche Team 919 Hybrid (No. 17)
4. Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron quattro (No. 9)
5. Toyota Racing TS040 Hybrid (No. 2)

LMP2

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Jota Sport and its Nissan-powered Gibson 015S took the LMP2 win despite an early drive-through for a jump-start. Driven by Harry Tincknell, Mitch Evans, and Simon Dolan, the No. 38 car had completed 161 laps at the end of the race, one more than G-Drive Racing’s Ligier JS P2. In third came the Morgan LMP2 Evo (Team SARD Morand) driven by Oliver Webb, Pierre Ragues, and Zoel Amberg.

Having won the first stage at Silverstone, G-Drive Racing continues to lead the team championship with both crews, followed by KCMG, Strakka Racing and Team Sard Morand.

Top 5 Class Results:
1. Jota Sport Gibson 015S (No. 38)
2. G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 (No. 28)
3. Team SARD Morand Morgan LMP2 Evo (No. 43)
4. KCMG Oreca 05 (No. 47)
5. Signatech Alpine A450b (No. 36)

GTE Pro

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Moving over to the GTE Pro tier, Aston Martin Racing took honors with the No. 99 Vantage GTE driven by Fernando Rees, Alex MacDowall and Richie Stanaway. The Brits battled with the AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 shared by Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander for much of the race, and took the checkered flag at less than a lap ahead. The Italians, on the other hand, finished fourth after a one-minute stop-and-go penalty that allowed two Porsche 911 RSRs to take second and third.

This was Aston Martin’s first win in the GTE Pro class this season after fourth and fifth place finishes at Silverstone. The win gave Aston Martin the lead in the manufacturer’s championship, but the battle is far from settled with Ferrari and Porsche trailing by one and two points, respectively.

Top 5 Class Results:
1. Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE (No. 99)
2. Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR (No. 92)
3. Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR (No. 91)
4. AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 (No. 51)
5. Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE (No. 97)

GTE Am

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Aston Martin Racing also won in the GTE Am category, after battling with an AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2. The No. 98 Vantage driven by Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda completed 148 laps to finish just ahead of the Ferrari shared by Francois OPerrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas. SMP Racing’s 458 Italia GT2 with Viktor Shaitar, Aleksey Basov and Andrea Motermini behind the wheel crossed the line in third.

Following this success, the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing crew cemented its lead in the team championship ahead of AF Corse and SMP Racing. This was Aston Martin Racing’s second consecutive win. Moreover, the podium was identical to the one at Silverstone, which could mean this year’s GTE Am class could be a three-team affair.

Top 5 Class Results:
1. Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE (No. 98)
2. AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 (No. 83)
3. SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 (No. 72)
4. Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR (No. 88)
5. Dempsey Racing-Proton Porsche 911 RSR (No. 77)

Complete 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps Results

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For full results of the event, including practice, qualifying, and race times and classifications, head over to the FIA World Endurance Championship official website here.

What’s Next?

The 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship season continues on June 13th with the most anticipated race of the year: the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This race is not only important for the WEC season, but for the entire world of motorsport, as the regular championship pack will be joined by several privateers looking to make names for themselves in the "Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency." The championship will then take a break until August 30th, when the 6 Hours of Nurburgring on the GP track is set to commence.

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