The Rowe Racing team of Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor, and Nick Tandy took their Porsche GT3 R to victory lane after a hard-fought day-long battle which ended with the car just minutes from blowing up its transmission. If the race had been carried out even one more lap, the car likely would not have made it to the end. That’s how racing goes sometimes, you persevere through adversity and survive just long enough to take an unlikely victory. The Porsche team did just that, and brought home a very welcome piece of hardware to the Porsche trophy cabinet. Porsches finished first, third, and fourth in the Belgian endurance classic.
This race was plagued with incidents thanks to lengthy rains during the overnight segment which caused a total of 18 full course yellow periods, and a further 14 safety car halts to the racing action. Porsche overcame competition from the 55-strong GT3 field, entered from 11 different manufacturers. There were dozens of lead changes, but ultimately the Rowe car pulled it out at the end. The team first moved into the front position early on Sunday morning as Nick Tandy turned in some impressive laps as the track transitioned from wet to dry. Another few stints from Bamber and Vanthoor set up Tandy for the final hour of competition. The car was already ailing, and the British driver was forced to make decisions to keep the transmission intact, reducing shifts and trying to keep it happy. The team worked flawlessly on strategy and Tandy managed to keep his pace up despite the issues, pulling away from the #66 Audi. At the finish he stayed ahead of the Audi competition by just 4.6 seconds. At the end, the transmission was completely devoid of fluid, squealing in pain, and Porsche says it likely would not have lasted another lap.
Comments from the Race
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Porsche Motorsport: “To win under such difficult conditions cannot be appreciated highly enough. Plus positions three and four – what a super performance. My congratulations and huge thanks to the winning team of Rowe Racing and to all other Porsche customer teams as well as the engineers from Porsche Motorsport. They all did a tremendous job at Spa.”
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “It was an extremely exciting finish – our hearts were racing at full revs. The last hours were simply nerve-wracking. Huge congratulations to Rowe Racing and the drivers who achieved the absolute maximum. On top of the overall victory, we also have one of Dinamic Motorsport’s cars on the podium and GPX Racing on fourth place. That underlines the strong partners we have at our side when the Porsche 911 GT3 R goes racing.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 GT3 R #98): “I’ll never forget this finale. Our victory was hanging by a thread when loud noises suddenly started coming from the rear of the vehicle in the penultimate lap. It almost sounded as if small bombs were exploding. I got a fright and at the same time, the rear axle was sliding around on a trail of oil. What I didn’t realise was that the oil was coming from our car. I still can’t quite believe that the Porsche 911 GT3 R got us over the finish line. The relief and joy are indescribable.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 GT3 R #98): “It’s simply incredible. That was a real team effort. Everyone gave their utmost and never gave up. At the beginning, our chances didn’t look good but with tremendous determination we made it to the front. This victory feels just wonderful. We’ve experienced a lot of bad luck this year. The triumph at Spa helps us forget all about that. It’s a dream come true!”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #98): “This brings me to tears. The 2020 year for us was often difficult because luck was never on our side. At some point, I’d almost written the season off in my mind. And then of all things to win at my home race in Spa-Francorchamps. I can’t describe the emotions. First I have to let it all sink in.”
1. Tandy/Bamber/Vanthoor (GB/NZ/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #98, 527 laps
2. Drudi/Niederhauser/Vervisch (I/CH/B), Audi R8 LMS #66, 527 laps
3. Cairoli/Engelhart/Müller (I/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #54, 527 laps
4. Campbell/Pilet/Jaminet (AUS/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #12, 527 laps
8. Bergmeister/Olsen/Makowiecki (D/N/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #22, 527 laps
11. Dumas/Deletraz/Preining (F/CH/A), Porsche 911 GT3 R #40, 525 laps
13. Christensen/Lietz/Estre (DK/A/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #47, 522 laps
29. Werner/Andlauer/Bachler (D/F/A), Porsche 911 GT3 R #99, 495 laps
37. Allemann/Bohn/Renauer/Renauer (CH/D/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #991, 375 laps
43. Liberati/Burdon/Imperatori (I/AUS/CH), Porsche 911 GT3 R #21, 247 laps
46. Häring/Konstantinou/Joos/Seefried (D/GR/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #918, 158 laps
48. Rizzoli/de Leener/Pedersen/Sbirrazzuoli (I/B/DK/MC), Porsche 911 GT3 R #56, 149 laps
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