24H VICTORY IN SPA!

“Dream Team” – Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor win the 24 Hours of Spa with ROWE RACING

"Dream Team" - Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor win the 24 Hours of Spa with ROWE RACING

Four weeks after the triumph at the Nürburgring, unstoppable in Belgium as well / The team with the most successes at Spa in the last five years celebrates second victory

St. Ingbert, October 25, 2020 – A dream driver trio, a perfect strategy and fantastic team spirit: ROWE RACING has also won the second major 24-hour race of the season in Spa, Belgium, four weeks after its triumph in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. The three Porsche works drivers Nick Tandy from Great Britain, Earl Bamber from New Zealand and Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium prevailed on the legendary hillclimb track in the Ardennes in a spectacular race with difficult weather conditions and the longest night ever at this endurance classic in the #98 Porsche 911 GT3 R. With a lead of 4.687 seconds, they gave the team from St. Ingbert its second Spa success after 2016. Together with the two second places in 2018 and 2019, ROWE RACING is by far the most successful team in Spa in the last five years and gave Porsche its eighth overall victory in Belgium. For local hero Laurens Vanthoor, it was the second victory after 2014.

After a game of patience in the early stages, the Dream Team in the #98 had set the first accents during the night when the two Le Mans winners Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber were already leading the high-caliber field of 56 GT3 cars that had started in the meantime. After a brief interruption to the race during the night, the trio remained consistently in podium contention on Sunday morning before the final hours of the race turned into a real thriller, thanks in part to numerous incidents and safety car phases. Nick Tandy reduced the gap to the front runners to a few seconds with numerous dream laps, but was driving at the absolute limit. On the 497th lap, he only avoided a spin in the notorious ultra-fast Eau Rouge corner with an incredible reaction, which caused a moment of shock not only for team boss Hans-Peter Naundorf, who was watching the live stream at home due to illness.

Just six laps later, Nick Tandy received crucial support from the team’s strategy department. First, it brought the #98 Porsche 911 GT3 R into the pits for refueling 1:12 hours before the end of the race in a full-couse yellow phase, but waived a tire change in the process, allowing the Briton to overtake one of the two competing Audi cars in the pits. Just two laps later, the strategists called him in for another short refueling to fulfill the pit stop required by the regulations within the last 65 minutes of racing. This also saw the second Audi passed alongside the track, and Nick Tandy went into the final sprint as the leader with 61 minutes remaining in the 24 hours.

On two further restarts after safety car phases, the Briton confidently maintained his lead until unusual noises appeared on the penultimate lap, also clearly audible via the onboard camera. But Nick Tandy, with all his experience, still brought the car to the finish line and was signed off as the winner just under 39 seconds after the 24-hour mark, 527 laps and a total of 3692.108 kilometers. In the pit lane, Nick Tandy blew hard and patted the #98 Porsche 911 GT3 R on the roof before his teammates Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor fell around his neck.

For the teammates in the sister car with the #99, the race was not as successful. German Porsche works driver Dirk Werner, Porsche Young Professional Julien Andlauer from France and Austrian Klaus Bachler had been in tenth place at times during the race but then had to retire early after 495 laps due to damage resulting from a collision.

"What a race and what a performance by the drivers and the whole team. I'm just incredibly proud of this team. Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor were our dream line-up right from the start and they showed themselves to be a true trio of heroes. They were absolutely faultless on the track, unlike many other drivers they didn't concede any penalties or slide off the track. They never gave up even after the somewhat disappointing qualifying session, didn't let themselves get rattled in the race and blindly trusted the team, which made the right strategic decisions at the crucial moments. But I have to admit that my heart almost stopped twice. The way Nick Tandy caught the car in Eau Rouge was unbelievable. And with the noises on the last lap I thought everything was over. But everything worked out in the end. After winning at the Nürburgring, to now win at Spa is a dream - and the perfect reward for all the hard work over a whole year."

Hans-Peter Naundorf, Team Manager ROWE RACING

"I'll never forget this final. Our victory was hanging by a thread when, on the penultimate lap, there were suddenly extreme noises in the rear of our car. It almost sounded as if small bombs were exploding. I was startled, and at the same moment I noticed that the rear axle was sliding around on a trail of oil. What I didn't know was that the oil was coming out of our car. I still can't believe that the Porsche 911 GT3 R still got us to the finish line. The relief and joy are indescribable."

Nick Tandy, #98 ROWE RACING Porsche 911 GT3 R

"It's just unbelievable. That was a real team performance in which every individual gave the maximum and never gave up. At the beginning it looked like we hardly had a chance. But with huge determination we got all the way to the front. This victory just feels wonderful. We've had a lot of bad luck this year. The triumph at Spa makes you forget all those things - it's just a dream!"

Earl Bamber, #98 ROWE RACING Porsche 911 GT3 R

"It really brings tears to my eyes. The year 2020 was often difficult for us in sporting terms because we never had luck on our side. At some point I almost drew a line under this season in my mind. And then we win my home race at Spa-Francorchamps, of all places. The emotions are indescribable. I've got to let that sink in first."

Laurens Vanthoor, #98 ROWE RACING Porsche 911 GT3 R

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