The outstanding international drivers of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup were confronted with a classic feature of Belgium – the unpredictable Ardennes weather. Thus, leading to a shock victory by the most surprising team of the season: FACH AUTO TECH.
Safety car and red flags – the rainy weather at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps made it quite difficult for both Formula 1 and the Porsche Supercup on and off the track. The Practice Session and the Race were prematurely abandoned. Nonetheless, the series provided top-class racing with thrilling duels in its best tradition despite the challenging weather. And yet, the icing on the cake was of much larger magnitude: A victory for the one-make series' history books. It is pretty tempting to get used to these kinds of milestones this year.
Lots of rain and a surprise on pole position.
As has often been the case this year, the results of the Practice Session in Belgium displayed a very different picture compared to the overall standings. #3 Harry King (GBR/BWT Lechner Racing) recorded the fastest lap time, while #19 Marvin Klein (FRA/Ombra Racing) took second place and the Belgian #12 Benjamin Paque (CLRT) was third-fastest. However, it wasn’t the elapsed time on the clock that determined the end of the session, but rather the deteriorating track conditions: It was pouring down with rain and the session had to be stopped with four minutes left on the clock. Unfortunately, some drivers desperately needed to set a decent lap time without violating any track limits. For instance, the championship leader #1 Bastian Buus (DNK/BWT Lechner Racing) who was only classified with the 23rd-fastest time.
Saturday’s Qualifying Session saw #4 Morris Schuring (NLD/FACH AUTO TECH) secure his first pole position with an immaculate lap. The 18-year-old team-mate of Silverstone’s winner #5 Alexander Fach (CHE) was almost a tenth of a second quicker than the highly motivated #11 Dorian Boccolacci (FRA/CLRT). It wasn’t going to be a piece of cake in this highly competitive field of 31 drivers though, which was once again strengthened by guests behind the wheel.
I will be starting on the front row for the third time. I want to get my first win at last!
The third fastest lap time of the Qualifying Session was set by King. However, he had already collected three reprimands during the race weekend. Consequently he, among eight other drivers, received a five-place grid penalty. His 3rd place on the grid was taken by team-mate Buus, who started the race with a good chance of extending his lead in the drivers’ standings.
However, King wasn’t demotivated by the grid penalty: "I went from P11 on the grid to the podium at the Red Bull Ring. A similar recovery should be more likely because there are several opportunities to overtake at Spa-Francorchamps." #25 Larry ten Voorde secured 4th place on the starting grid – the top drivers separated themselves with slim margins on the timing sheet.
2nd Victory for FACH – by the youngest Supercup winner of all time.
The start of Sunday's race under dark clouds was delayed by almost 15 minutes – a factor that would have a crucial impact later on that day. As for the race itself, the tension was high right from the very first few seconds of action. No wonder, given the high number of top-class drivers with title chances at the front of the field, on a circuit that is known for its numerous overtaking opportunities.
The spectators in the woods and on the grandstands were certainly in for a treat as the battle between Schuring and Buus was fierce from start to finish. Buus overtook Boccolacci in the first corner – and then was constantly clinging to Schuring's diffuser. He even briefly passed him on one occasion, but the young Dutchman was able to withstand the pressure and defended his lead until the declared end of the race.
It was very tough! Bastian attacked me on every lap.
After eight completed laps, things got very exciting when heavy rain started to fall on certain parts of the track. Schuring was the first of several drivers to slide into the run-off area at the bus stop chicane – and he almost lost the lead! As a result, race control first brought out the safety car and then decided to abandon the race with less than 5 minutes to go. "It got really dicey. The front wheels locked up under braking, the rear tyres spun under acceleration," explained Schuring. Naturally, the tension on the 18-year-old winner's face remained long after he had crossed the line.
Due to the late start, the Dutchman became the youngest-ever winner in the history of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup since 1993, before the last lap. Furthermore, it was the second victory of the season for his team FACH AUTO TECH after Alexander Fach's victory at Silverstone.
Buus was unperturbed and took the missed victory in his stride as he remains the leader in the drivers’ championship. On the other hand, Boccolacci dropped the ball at the start of his race: "I didn't get off to a good start, which meant that Bastian was able to pass me straight away. After that, Harry King was breathing down my neck. I was very fortunate to fend him off." Nevertheless, the Frenchman overtook Ten Voorde in the overall standings. The Dutch two-time Supercup champion finished eighth in Belgium.
I have finished in front of my direct competitors in the fight for the title, and that's the most important thing.
Strong performance by the youngsters.
The two Rookies, #22 Alessandro Ghiretti (FRA/Martinet by Alméras) in fifth position and #2 Harri Jones (GBR/BWT Lechner Racing) on P6, crossed the line in front of Ten Voorde. This was Ghiretti's second Rookie victory of the season. "It's a great feeling to stand on the top step of the podium and hear the French national anthem," said the 21-year-old Frenchman who also holds the overall lead in the Rookie Classification. In fact, it was a great finish for the Belgian fans as well: Their fellow countryman Benjamin Paque finished third on the Rookie podium.
Overall standings of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup after Round 5 at Spa-Francorchamps
Drivers and spectators alike will be taking a break from the Porsche Supercup after the rain-soaked and thrilling weekend at Spa-Francorchamps. However, Rounds 6 and 7 will kick off the final phase of the international one-make series at the end of August. Therefore, the most important title decisions of the season are yet to be made in the Dutch dunes of the North Sea – an ideal setting for yet another high-calibre racing event!