The no22 United Autosports Oreca-Gibson, with Duncan Tappy, Phil Hanson and Tom Gamble secured victory at the 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps by nearly 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the field to add to the wins the British team took in 2018, 2019 and 2020 at the Belgian circuit with Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque.
History was also made in the LMGTE category when the no57 Kessel Racing Ferrari took the class win ahead of the no83 Iron Lynx Ferrari. Conrad Grunewald and Frederik Schandorff stood on the top step of the podium with their Danish teammate Mikkel Jensen, with Jensen becoming the first driver to win an ELMS race in all three categories, having previously won the LMP3 title with Eurointernational and the 2021 4 Hours of Portimão in LMP2.
The no13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier-Nissan trio of Charles Crews, Nico Pino and Guilherme Oliveira took their third win in a row, finishing over a minute ahead of the rest of the LMP3 field. The team now head to Portimão in the lead of the LMP3 championship.
The LMP2 Pro-Am class was won by Racing Team Turkey for the third time this year, with another 25 points to extend their championship lead. For the 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood were joined by Will Stevens, with Stevens beating the no88 AF Corse Oreca of Alessio Rovera by just 0.042s as the two cars went side-by-side across the line.
After overnight rain there was still some damp patches on the track despite the weather being dry. The no28 IDEC Sport Oreca, which was due to start from the front row alongside the pole sitting no37 Cool Racing Oreca, fell to the back of the field on the formation lap as Paul Lafargue spun in the damp conditions.
The race got underway with the no37 Cool Racing Oreca of Niklas Kruetten leading the field through the first corner ahead of the no22 United Autosports Oreca of Duncan Tappy and the no21 Muehlner Motorsport Oreca of Mattias Kaiser. Ferdinand Habsburg was moving up the field from 8thto 5thon the opening lap and then overtook the no65 Panis Racing Oreca of Julien Canal to move up another place.
The no43 Inter Europol Competition Oreca of Fabio Scherer had to start at the back of the grid after failing to qualify on Saturday, the Swiss driver causing a red flag during the 15-minute session. Scherer got the hammer down and sliced his way through the LMGTE and LMP3 runners to get onto the back of the LMP2 field.
There was trouble in the LMP3 field as three cars collided at Le Combes, the no10 Eurointernational Ligier, the no27 Cool Racing Ligier and the no5 RLR MSport Ligier. All cars managed to rejoin after a slight delay.There were further problems for the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca as Lafargue headed to the pits with the rear left tyre smoking heavily.
The no51 Team Virage Oreca of Rob Hodes spun into the gravel at T14 and a Safety Car had to be deployed after just 5-minutes of green flag running.
At the restart the Habsburg moved up to 3rd, passing the no21 Oreca of Matthias Kaiser on the Kemmel Straight.
In the LMGTE field the no57 Kessel Racing Ferrari on Conrad Grunewald was just ahead of the no69 Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin of Ahmad Al Harthy and the no83 Iron Lynx Ferrari of Sarah Bovy. Bovy moved ahead of the Aston Martin and set about challenging Grunewald for the lead.
Grunewald went a little wide onto the damp side of the track at Raidillon and the Ferrari went off, spinning across the track and just missing the no83 Ferrari before the American could gain control and rejoin the race in 5thplace. Sarah Bovy also lost the lead to Ahmad Al Harthy as she tried to avoid the spinning Kessel Racing Ferrari.
At almost the same time the no17 Cool Racing Ligier of Maurice Smith was tipped into a spin at T1 by the no15 RLR MSport Ligier of Horst Felbermayr Jnr and as Smith’s car spun round it was hit again by the RLR Ligier which damaged the rear wing and the right rear suspension. Maurice Smith limped back to the pits. A Full Course Yellow to be declared due to the debris on the track.
At the restart the no37 Cool Racing Oreca pulled away as Duncan Tappy and Ferdinand Habsburg went side by side for second place. At Les Combes Tappy was forced to go up the escape road and Habsburg went across the corner, with the Austrian giving back the position to Tappy as he had gained an advantage by cutting the corner. This allowed Bent Viscaal in the no19 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca to join the battle for second place.
In LMP3 the no13 Ligier had taken a long stop during the FCY period, which would pay dividends later in the race, which meant the no3 United Autosports Ligier of Andrew Bentley was leading from the sister no2 Ligier of Josh Caygill. The no14 Inter Europol Competition Ligier of Mateusz Kaprzyk passed Caygill for second place at T1 and then moved into the lead three laps later.
The no43 Inter Europol Competition Oreca was still moving up the field and was up to 4that the end of the first hour of racing and closing on Habsburg and Tappy. As they were negotiating traffic Tappy ran slightly wide into Bruxelles corner and Habsburg made a move, there was contact and Duncan Tappy was able to save the spin, but not before Fabio Scherer had moved ahead of both cars into second place.
Sarah Bovy was now back in the lead of LMGTE by less than a second ahead of Ahmad Al Harthy.Conrad Grunewald was recovering from his earlier spin and was back up to third but 15 seconds behind the two leading cars.
At the next set of pitstops, the no43 Oreca takes the lead as Fabio Scherer only takes fuel, with Nico Lapierre running second in the no37 Cool Racing Oreca, Phil Hanson now in the no22 United Autosports Oreca in third and Juan Manuel Correa in the no9 Prema Racing Oreca in 4th.
On fresh Goodyear tyres Lapierre was challenging Scherer for the lead but went across the gravel trap at T11 after trying to pass the leader. The no37 Oreca drops back but soon closes the gap to renew the challenge, which pays off on the next lap as Lapierre moves ahead on the run down from La Source to Eau Rouge.
A second Full Course Yellow period was declared to clear more debris from the track which allowed all the top cars to head to the pits. The race resumed after 11 minutes with the no22 and no37 Orecas going side by side into T1, with Lapierre’s car locking the brakes and going straight on. Lapierre’s woes got worse as he dropped back when the left rear tyre was punctured and he headed to the pits for a new tyre, dropping the no37 Oreca back to 10th.
Doriane Pin was now at the wheel of the no83 Iron Lynx Ferrari and was leading the LMGTE field by 1.5 seconds ahead of the no57 Kessel Racing Ferrari. This battle raged for the next 40-minutes, with Pin fending off the challenge.
Phil Hanson was pulling out a lead ahead of the no43 Oreca of David Heinemeier-Hansson, but a spin at T1 dropped the Dane down the order and allowing the no22 United Autosports Oreca to open a 20 second lead over the no31 TDS Racing x Vaillante Oreca of Mathias Beche.