The Spa 24 Hours GT3 challenge of ex-Formula 1 drivers Eddie Cheever and Mark Blundell has been severely dented this afternoon with power steering problems.
The United Autosports Audi R8 LMS, which Cheever and Blundell are sharing with team bosses Zak Brown and Richard Dean, had risen up the order after qualifying 16th. It was fighting for the lead of GT3 and fifth overall, despite a brief delay with an electrical issue, at the 20-hour mark.
Cheever had closed to within seven seconds of the GT3-leading No. 53 Muhlner Porsche when power steering failure caused the American to have a huge moment at Eau Rouge. He brought the car into the pits before briefly returning to the circuit. But he was straight back in again for a lengthy stop to replace multiple components in the power steering system.
"It's a shame because the car was great," said Cheever. "I'm very disappointed right now, but that's life."
The failure left the 68 16 laps down to the class-leading Porsche and 11 behind the second in class Ford, but such has been the attrition that when Richard Dean brought the car back on track he was still third in class and immediately got back on the 2m29s pace the car was running previously, so the team's pre-race hopes of a class podium are still intact.