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Hertz Team JOTA Wins 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps

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Hertz Team JOTA’s Callum Ilott was the recipient of good luck when they had already made a pit stop prior to a red flag Saturday (May 11). That meant that Ilott took the lead when the leaders had to make stops as soon as the green came back out. He was able to hold on from there to win the FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps Saturday with teammate Will Stevens. It is the first Hypercar win for a privateer operation.

“It’s very special,” Stevens said after the race. “We got a little bit lucky with the red flag, obviously, but you create your own luck in this game. Callum [Ilott] did a fantastic job at the end [in] keeping the gap. Couldn’t be happier.”

Ilott and Stevens’ margin of victory was 12.363 seconds over Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor. Ferrari AF Corse’s Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen were more than a minute back in third, then teammates James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi and Alessandro Pier Guidi. Proton Competition’s Neel Jani and Julian Andlauer were fifth.

The moment of the race that changed everything occurred early in the fifth hour. At the time, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Earl Bamber was battling Proton Competition’s Jani for third position when they ran up on the battle for third in LMGT3 between Team WRT’s Sean Galael and D’Station Racing’s Erwan Bastard.

Jani had just passed Bastard, but got held up a little in the Eau Rouge-Radillion complex. That gave Bamber a huge run coming up the hill that put him right on Jani’s rear wing. He attempted to make a move for the spot on the Kemmel Straight, but clipped Galael.

The contact spun Bamber hard into the wall and into the air, although he did not roll over. Galael clipped the grass and spun into the wall on the opposite side of the track.

Both drivers were sent to the on-site infield care center for a checkup and were declared ok. The guardrails and catchfencing were damaged in the crash, resulting in a long red flag.

At the time, it seemed like the race was not going to resume after the crash. Had that happened, half-points would have been awarded because the red flag flew before the 75% mark of the race. With 11 minutes remaining on the clock, the WEC announced that the race would run to the full six-hour distance and that the time under the red flag effectively wouldn’t count.

That meant that the clock was reset to an hour and 47 minutes…

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