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24H Spa: Lilou Wadoux leads bronze class after 6 hours

Lilou Wadoux and her Sky Tempesta teammates are leading the bronze class six hours into the Crowdstrike 24 Hours of Spa, thanks to consistent stints amidst a heavily interrupted race.

Sophia Floersch, Alpine
Photo credits: James Gasperotti Photography

Six hours into the centenary edition of the Crowdstrike 24 Hours of Spa—the biggest GT race in the world—Lilou Wadoux and her Sky Tempesta teammates led the bronze class, thanks to consistent stints by all drivers during a highly interrupted first part of the race.


Less than a week after securing her first IMSA victory in LMP2 machinery, the Ferrari factory driver was back behind the wheel of a Ferrari 296 GT3, this time with the British squad Sky Tempesta. Sharing the car with Chris Froggatt, Jonathan Hui, and Eddie Cheever, Wadoux tackled her second 24 Hours of Spa, with realistic chances of running at the front of the bronze cup.


The team qualified second in class after combined sessions in which Wadoux was the fastest driver for the team. Although they barely missed out on a spot in the SuperPole on Friday, the drivers of the #93 Ferrari started from second in bronze and 28th overall in a huge 66-car field.


Chris Froggatt took the start, and the British racer navigated the heavy traffic of the first lap smartly, retaining second in class and settling into P29 overall, trading positions with a few Gold and Pro entries over the first couple of laps, in a busy yet clean start throughout the field.


With the Optimum McLaren of Ben Barnicoat and the Tresor Attempto Racing Audi of Max Hofer right behind, Froggatt defended his position. Although both Hofer and Barnicoat eventually passed him, Froggatt held fourth in bronze and mingled with a few Silver cars.


The first of many Full Course Yellow came almost 30 minutes into the race when the Rutronic Porsche of Blattner made contact with the Ferrari of Machiels and got stranded in the gravel. Froggatt pitted, and bronze-rated driver Jonathan Hui took over the #93 Ferrari. The lengthy procedure eventually required the deployment of the safety car at the end of the full course yellow. As several teams opted to bring in their bronze drivers, racing resumed as the first hour approached.


Hui tried to hold on and fell to sixth in class but was able to recover to fifth. He then overtook Shaun Balfe with a clean move at the Bus Stop chicane, gaining him fourth on lap 22. Hui's pace was very consistent, and he kept improving his personal best, eventually catching a group of cars ahead, including the #992 Porsche driven by Laurens Vanthoor.


Hui's stint continued with more competitive laps, and the driver from Hong Kong was the fastest bronze on track for most of the second hour of racing. At the second round of pit stops, Hui handed over to Eddie Cheever after a superbly solid stint. The gold-rated driver rejoined seventh in class, before reclaiming fourth after everyone pitted.


Cheever soon overtook the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari and grabbed third, then set the car's best lap, going under the 2:18 mark for the first time in the race. The #93 Ferrari kept climbing the overall classification and soon caught the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini for second in class. He passed Bechtolsheimer on lap 54, maintaining a steadily faster pace.


The Italian then battled door-to-door with the #911 Pure Rxcing Porsche of Malykhin for several laps before finally clearing the Pro entry with a bold pass at Eau Rouge.

After a quick full course yellow for debris, Cheever leapfrogged Al Khalifa and kept moving forward.


As the race reached two and a half hours, the #38 Audi went off and hit the tyre barriers at turn 7, triggering another caution. This was the perfect opportunity for Cheever to pit for the third time, and the strategy gained Sky Tempesta more track positions: the safety car bunched up the pack, and after the pass-around procedure, the green flag waved again as predicted rain made its way over the Ardennes.


Cheever had a clean restart, but a chain reaction of contacts saw several cars crashing into each other, and the safety car was deployed once again. After a disrupted part of the race, dark clouds closed in over the circuit, and the light rain intensified at the restart. Cheever kept it on track in increasingly tricky conditions, but another neutralization followed when the bronze class third-placed Barwell Lamborghini got beached in the gravel.


The #93 Sky Tempesta Ferrari pitted for the fourth time, and Lilou Wadoux took over for her first stint in the 24 Hours of Spa. The Frenchwoman kept second place in class, while the class-leading #188 Garage 59 McLaren stayed out and restarted from the overall lead.

Wadoux moved up to the bronze class lead soon after, as the #188 McLaren pitted, but her stint was soon slowed down by a monster three-car crash at Eau Rouge that required the intervention of the safety car, luckily with no serious consequences for the drivers involved.


The clean-up was relatively quick, and Wadoux, now up into the overall top 20, charged through the field, making up places overall amid several quick full course yellows for more incidents.


At the following pit sequence, she cycled back to second in class in a very interrupted fifth hour of racing. An issue for the closest bronze rival—the #188 Garage59 McLaren—brought the car back to the garage, promoting Lilou to the lead.


As the race was fully back underway after a lengthy series of cautions, the French racer was outstanding, lapping in the low 2:18 range and running on par with the overall leaders.

The sun disappeared behind the trees, and night approached, bringing a few more raindrops.


Wadoux was unfazed and closed in on an overall top ten, managing the increasingly difficult conditions that saw the Gold-class leader sliding off track and into the gravel. This was the opportunity to pit, and Lilou completed her stellar stint from the class lead before handing over to Chris Froggatt.


More incidents extended the safety car period; Froggatt currently leads in bronze class, tenth overall as the race reached six hours.


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