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Mercedes-AMG GT3 wins Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe in Brands Hatch


#89  Silver Cup  Nico Bastian, Thomas Neubauer  AKKA ASP Team  Mercedes-AMG GT3

#89 Silver Cup Nico Bastian, Thomas Neubauer AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3

 

Brands Hatch, 05 May, 2019

The Blancpain GT series visited the UK at the beginning of May with back to back race meetings over the first two weekends, the first being the World Challenge Europe (ex-Sprint series) at Brands Hatch on 05 May, followed by the Endurance Cup at Silverstone the following weekend. The races at Brands Hatch attracted a 26 car grid and were held on the long “Grand Prix” circuit. There was a strong support programme headed by the GT4 European Series, with a pair of 60mins races, each preceding the Sunday’s World Challenge Europe races, then there was a pair of races each for the Toyo 7race series and Porsche Club Championship, plus supercar demonstration runs. Apart from some squally showers on the Saturday afternoon, the weather remained predominantly bright and dry, albeit with a chilly breeze. However that was nothing compared to the conditions for the FIA WEC race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium the same weekend, where they had freezing temperatures and snow showers!

The 50mins qualifying session on the Saturday afternoon was the victim of the rain showers that swept through. The session was held in two 20mins parts, one for each driver for times for the two races, with a 10mins interlude, and started on a damp track which then dried out. The first session was red flagged after 8mins, when the Mexican driver  Diego Menchaca in the #555 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini Huracan at Paddock Hill Bend, fortunately without injury. Upon the session being restarted it was  the #4 Black Falcon entered Mercedes-AMG of Luca Stolz which topped the times, then it was red flagged again when Mirko Bortolotti crashed  the # 63 GRT Grasser Racing Team entered Lamborghini whilst trying to claim pole position, but the time already set by it meant that it started 2nd on the grid. The second part of the session started dry, but the ominous dark clouds soon deposited their contents, so it was only those who managed to set a time before the rain fell that stood a chance of a good grid position for the second race. The car that claimed pole position was the # 90 AKKA ASP Team entered Mercedes-AMG driven by Fabian Schiller, just ahead of the #55 Attempto Racing entered Audi driven by Nick Foster. In the Pro-Am class it was the #52 AF Corse entered Ferrari driven by Louis Machiels that claimed the class pole position for Race 1, but Andrea Bertolini could only manage 3rd in the rain spoiled second part of the session.

 

Fortunately race day dawned dry and much more stable than had been the case on the Saturday, and remained thus throughout the day. The first race saw a first lap incident at the first corner, Paddock Hill Bend, which eliminated a trio of Audis on the spot, the #5 Phoenix Racing example, plus the #26 Sainteloc and #56 Attempto entries, leaving the teams with plenty to do before the second race later in the afternoon. This immediately brought out the safety car and a full course yellow, and once the track went green again it was the #4 pole sitting Mercedes that led the way from the repaired #63 Lamborghini. The Pro-Am class pole sitting # 52 Ferrari slid off and into the barrier whilst under pressure from the #333 Rinaldi Racing entered example, but was repaired in time for the second race, whilst the Rinaldi car went on to win the Pro-Am class. The battle for the overall lead became a Mercedes squabble between the # 4 car of Stolz / Engel and the #89 Silver class entry of Bastian / Neubauer, after the #63 Lamborghini slipped back from their battle as the race progressed. The victory eventually went to the #89 example, just 2secs ahead at the chequered flag, with the #63 Lamborghini taking the final podium position

In Race 2 the #26 Sainteloc entered Audi again had a very short race, once again getting no further tha the first bend spinning off across the gravel and into the barrier. Actually things didn’t go too much better for the # 52 AF Corse entered Ferrari, as it retired on the 6th lap when it was heavily damaged in a multi car incident, occasioned when the #333 Ferrari hit the #11 Pheonix Racing Audi, triggering avoiding action, or not as the case may be, for which it received a drive-through penalty. The early part of the race wasled by the pole-sitting #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes, with the repaired #55 Attempto Racing Audi chasing hard. The #90 Mercedes continued to lead until the pit stops had cycled through, which saw the #4 example that had finished 2nd in Race 1 come to head of the field, now chased by the #88 AKKA ASP example, which had started 6th on the grid.In the closing stages the finishing order seemed to be set, until the #88 car died coming through the final bend before the pit straight, pulling over then being enveloped in a cloud of smoke, with what was later reported as a clutch problem. This allowed the #563 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini to take the runner-up spot, with the #55 Audi coming back to make it three different makes on the podium.

 

Race 1

Overall Podium

1st – #89, AKKA ASP Team, Mercedes-AMG GT3, N. Bastian / T. Neubauer
2nd – #4, Black Falcon, Mercedes-AMG GT3, L. Stolz / M. Engel
3rd – #63, GRT Grasser Racing Team, M. Bortolotti / C. Engelhart


Silver Cup

1st – #89, AKKA ASP Team, Mercedes-AMG GT3, N. Bastian / T. Neubauer
2nd – #17, Belgian Audi Club  WRT, Audi R8 LMS GT3, S. Davies / T. Gamble
3rd – #10, Belgian Audi Club  WRT, Audi R8 LMS GT3, O. Tunjo / R. Breukers

PAM Class

1st – #333, Rinaldi Racing, Ferrari 488 GT3, R. Salikhov / D. Perel
2nd – #519, Orange 1 FFF Team, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, H. Hamaguchi / P.Keen
3rd – #87, AKKA ASP Team, Mercedes-AMG GT3, J. Beaubelique / J. Pla

AM class

1st - #444, HB Racing, Ferrari 488 GT3, W. Triller / F. Scholze


Race 2

Overall Podium

1st – #4, Black Falcon, Mercedes-AMG GT3, L. Stolz / M. Engel
2nd – #563, Orange 1 FFF Team, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, A. Caldarelli / M. Mapelli
3rd – #55, Attempto Racing, Audi R8 LMS GT3, S. Schothorst / N. Foster

Silver Cup

1st – 89, AKKA ASP Team, Mercedes-AMG GT3, N. Bastian / T. Neubauer
2nd – #56, Attempto Racing, Audi R8 LMS GT3, M. Dontje / M. Drudi
3rd – #62, R-Motorsport, Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3, A. Vainio / H. De Sadeleer

PAM Class

1st – #519, Orange 1 FFF Team, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, H. Hamaguchi / P.Keen
2nd – #87, AKKA ASP Team, Mercedes-AMG GT3, J. Beaubelique / J. Pla
3rd – #333, Rinaldi Racing, Ferrari 488 GT3, R. Salikhov / D. Perel


AM class

1st - #444, HB Racing, Ferrari 488 GT3, W. Triller / F. Scholze


Ferrari Entry

 

Race #

Model

Chassis #

Team

Drivers

Position

 

 

 

 

 

R1

R2

Class PRO-AM Cup

 

 

333

488 GT3

4470

Rinaldi Racing

R. Salikhov /
D. Perel

13th OA
1st IC

16th OA
3rd IC

52

488 GT3

4298

AF Corse

L. Machiels /
A. Bertolini

DNF

DNF

Class AM Cup

 

 

444

488 GT3

4434

HB Racing

J. Liebhauser /
F. Scholze

18th OA
1st IC

17th OA
1st IC

 

Keith Bluemel         
05/2019.