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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

24H Spa: Wadoux's team survives heavy rain, competing for top-3 at mid race

Lilou Wadoux and her Sky Tempesta teammates continue to battle in the leading positions of the Bronze Cup, surviving heavy rain and several neutralizations in the night of the Ardennes as the 24 Hours of Spa hits the mid-way point.

Lilou Wadoux, Sky Tempesta Ferrari 296 GT3, 2024 24 Hours of Spa
Photo credits: SRO/JEP

Lilou Wadoux and her teammates Chris Froggatt, Jonathan Hui and Eddie Cheever continue to battle in the leading positions of the Bronze Cup, while also running steadily in the top ten overall, after an action packed centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Spa.

In the opening six hours of racing, the drivers of the #93 Sky Tempesta Ferrari 296 GT3 led the bronze class due to highly consistent stints by all drivers amidst numerous safety car and full course yellow interruptions. Having qualified second in class, the team managed to climb the order with great runs from its starting driver, Chris Froggatt, as well as bronze-rated Jonathan Hui, who significantly made up positions. Eddie Cheever and Lilou Wadoux then strategically navigated multiple full course yellows and Wadoux's impressive performance during her stint, amidst increasingly challenging conditions, ultimately advanced the team to the bronze class lead.

The expected rain showers started soon after, turning the race into a strategic game of tyre choice as Chris Froggatt took over for his second driving stint.

The team switched to wet weather tyres, and the strategy paid off: as the race went back to green, the Briton charged through the field. Despite incredibly challenging conditions with lower temperatures, rain, and darkness, the #93 Ferrari was in fact flying.

From 12th place, Froggatt overtook most of the cars ahead and cleared Klaus Bachler for second overall, then hunted down Marco Sorensen's Comtoyou Racing Aston Martin, who was struggling for grip on slick tyres. The Sky Tempesta driver nearly took the overall lead, but the Aston Martin fought back on the drier parts of the track.

Eventually, the rain eased, and Froggatt settled in fourth overall, still retaining a healthy margin over bronze class second-placed Mex Jansen, as several Aston Martins climbed the order when the #52 AF Corse fell back, also on slicks.

Twenty minutes into the seventh hour, the rain stopped, and the cars on slick tyres were suddenly faster again. Froggatt dropped to 14th overall, although still relatively competitive compared to the following bronze cup cars. Just as the next stop approached, more rain began to fall, resulting in a few teams switching back to wets. Froggatt pitted on lap 131 and cycled down to third before the stranded #188 McLaren brought out another full course yellow.

The heavens opened, and conditions became extremely difficult even under caution.

After 40 minutes of safety car, the pass-around was about to commence, and drivers prepared for a restart in a deluge but race control wisely decided to keep the safety car on track as conditions continued to be barely drivable.

Froggatt, third in class after pitting just before the neutralization, advanced to second once the #66 Tresor Attempto Audi pitted. The Sky Tempesta Ferrari followed a few laps later, with Jonathan Hui taking over as the bronze-rated driver. Now up to second, Hui had the task of keeping the car on track and maintaining focus during the lengthy weather neutralization.

During the following round of pit stops, Hui moved up to third overall and stayed behind the wheel. After the stops, the #93 Sky Tempesta Ferrari 296 GT3 was back in the class lead and sixth overall after nine hours.

After almost two hours under the safety car, the race went back to green. In still difficult visibility, Hui found himself fourth overall: although he lost a few positions, the bronze racer held on to the overall top ten and the bronze top spot, driving in extremely challenging conditions. As soon as the Hong Kong driver got into his rhythm, his pace was enough to slightly extend the gap to the closest class rivals.

As the stint progressed, Hui ran on par with the Pro lineups and, in between pit stops, climbed back as high as second overall, several seconds per lap faster than the #11 Comtoyou Racing Aston Martin, which would pit from 14th overall.

Hui's flawless run was completed on lap 174 when Eddie Cheever took over for his second driving shift. Just as the Italian was leaving the pits, however, the #88 Audi of Glenn Van Berlo hit the barriers, bringing out a full course yellow. By pitting under caution, the #66 Tresor Attempto Audi made it back into the bronze cup lead, with Cheever following in second and Jef Machiels (#52 AF Corse Ferrari) back in third, also after a pit stop under yellow.

The field accelerated away with 13 hours and 46 minutes to go, and Cheever had to go through the gravel to avoid a couple of spun cars at La Source. The #93 Ferrari was soon back on track, but the incident cost Cheever several positions as he found himself fourth in class. Nevertheless, he immediately passed the #36 Walkenhorst Aston Martin of Ben Green, moving up to third one lap later, and attempted to recover the lost ground but then fell behind Patrick Kujala's Barwell Lamborghini.

Everyone pitted again under caution, and Cheever stayed behind the wheel, with the green flag flying again 13 minutes before the 11th hour. Drama, however, was far from over as rain started to fall again. Cheever stayed out, and fourth in class, he battled for overall position with a group of Pro entries when most cars pitted for wets. The top four in bronze all stayed out, and Cheever made a few moves stick in very sketchy conditions, resulting in several sideways moments.

Eddie eventually caught Stevenson's Barwell Lamborghini and moved ahead of the #72 with a very bold pass, as visibility returned to being a concern. As the mid-race approached, Eddie Cheever had grabbed third in class before he pitted, leaving the helm of the #93 Ferrari back in the hands of Lilou Wadoux. Atfer the stop, Lilou held third in class; she had just settled in her very competitive rhythm when another safety car was deployed as the clock hit the 12th hour.



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