AutosUnexpected race extension marks a new era in endurance racing

Unexpected race extension marks a new era in endurance racing

6h Spa-Francorchamps
6h Spa-Francorchamps
Images source: © Autokult | Szymon Jasina

9:42 AM EDT, May 13, 2024

The WEC race at Spa-Francorchamps will go down in history, not just because the judges unexpectedly decided to extend the race but also because it showcased what might have been one of the most exhilarating eras in the sport's history.

The six-hour battle at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps track saw Porsche and Ferrari go head to head, with Cadillac and Toyota also showing respectable pace. Meanwhile, Alpine, BMW, Lamborghini, and Peugeot were not far behind. This lineup, particularly with the introduction of the hypercar class, is unlike anything we've seen before in endurance racing, at least in recent times.

The competition and emotions on the track are undoubtedly the main attractions but are not the only factors drawing crowds. The participation of numerous renowned teams and brands turns these events into massive fan magnets. As a result, nearly 90,000 spectators gathered at the Belgian track on race day, a turnout comparable to Formula 1. Big names like Porsche and Ferrari fuel fans' imaginations and significantly boost attendance.

6h Spa-Francorchamps
6h Spa-Francorchamps© Getty Images | Kristof Vermeulen

The current WEC rules introduce exciting dynamics. For instance, Ferrari and Toyota built their cars entirely from scratch, while other teams capitalized on construction from external suppliers. Porsche, for example, uses a design by Multimatic and is led by the legendary American team Penske. This approach not only lowers costs but also leverages the expertise of seasoned racing pros.

Despite initial apprehensions about the 2024 season, the FIA has successfully maintained a competitive balance. Interestingly, Porsche is leading the overall classification after the first three races, with the #6 team, comprising Kévin Estre, André Loter, and Laurens Vanthoor, at the forefront thanks to a win and two second-place finishes. Another Porsche team, the private Jota #12, clinched an unexpected victory at Spa-Francorchamps.

The GT3 class has also seen heightened diversity and fierce competition following recent changes. Up until the concluding moments at Spa, the battle was intense. Ultimately, Porsche secured the top two spots, highlighting the brand's dominance. The GT3 class boasts an impressive lineup, including Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Ford, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus, and Porsche.

6h Spa-Francorchamps
6h Spa-Francorchamps© Getty Images | Kristof Vermeulen

This sets the stage for an electrifying 24-hour race at Le Mans. With top-notch drivers, legendary teams, and a competitive field, mid-June promises an unforgettable spectacle. Will Ferrari defend its title, Porsche reclaim its glory, can Toyota build on previous successes, or will another contender emerge? In 2023, the competition was exceptionally balanced, suggesting that any hypercar contenders had a realistic shot at victory.

Catch the coverage of the 24-hour race at Le Mans on Autokult, and don't miss out on what's shaping up to be a landmark event in motorsport history.
6h Spa-Francorchamps
6h Spa-Francorchamps© Autokult | Szymon Jasina
6h Spa-Francorchamps
6h Spa-Francorchamps© Getty Images | Kristof Vermeulen
Related content