The #74 Kessel Racing Ferrari F488 GTE EVO of Michael Broniszewski, Marcos Gomes and David Perel took their first victory of the 2020 European Le Mans Series in Belgium, moving into the championship lead as a result.
The race started in glorious sunshine, but the fickle Ardennes weather threatened to play its part, with the forecast predicting rain towards the end of the 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Michael Fassbender took up his place at the head of the strong LMGTE field in the #93 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR after teammate Richard Lietz claimed pole position in qualifying.The Irish-German Hollywood star made a good start but was overtaken by the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Paul Dalla Lana, the #74 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Michael Broniszewski and his Proton Competition teammate Christian Ried in the #77 Porsche.
Behind the leaders the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Duncan Cameron had to pit after suffering some bodywork damage on the opening lap. A quick repair and the car was back in the fight.
On Lap 3, Ried passed Broniszewski and closed the gap to the leading Aston Martin as François Perodo moved up to third in the #88 AF Corse Ferrari ahead of Broniszewski.The GTE battle raged for several laps, with the top four cars split by less than two seconds.
The race was neutralised for 20 minutes by the first of two Safety Cars. It was deployed when Martin Hippe in the #13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier went into the tyre wall on the exit of Bruxelles trying to avoid the spinning #10 Nielsen Racing Duqueine of Rob Hodes.
The race resumed for 15 minutes before a second Safety Car was deployed to recover the #60 Iron Lynx Ferrari of Claudio Schiavoni, the Italian colliding with Will Owen’s #32 Oreca as the American overtook him. Owen was penalised later in the race for causing the accident that forced the Ferrari into retirement.
After the next round of pitstops the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Matthias Lauda dropped back as the #77 Proton Competition Porsche of Alessio Picariello went into the lead.The Belgian was seven seconds ahead of the #74 Ferrari, now in the hands of Marcos Gomes, with the recovering #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Aaron Scott in third.
The race settled down with the #77 Porsche holding a comfortable lead of the #74 Ferrari as the battles in LMP3 raged around them.
As the final hour of the race approached, Michele Beretta was at the wheel of the #77 Porsche and David Perel was the driver of the #74 Ferrari, with Beretta holding a 23 second lead. However, that was all about to change when the Porsche spun off in a cloud of smoke at the top of Raidillon, with the car suffering a rear left puncture and had to limp back to the pitlane for repairs.
The race then went under a Full Course Yellow when the overall leader Mikkel Jensen went off into the tyre wall in the #26 G-Drive Racing Aurus just as the rain began to fall on parts of the circuit.
Once the race went green again, Perel was holding a 20 second lead over Matt Griffin in the #55 Ferrari, with the #88 AF Corse Ferrari of Emmanuel Collard bearing down on the Irish driver.Collard passed Griffin at Les Combes with less than 30 minutes of the race remaining.Griffin lost the final podium spot to the charging Augusto Farfus in the #98 Aston Martin Vantage.
At the chequered flag David Perel crossed the line in the #74 Kessel Racing Ferrari 13.6 seconds ahead of Emmanuel Collard in the #88 488, with the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage a lap behind the first two cars in third.