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AKKA ASP Wins; Bortolotti, Engelhart Crowned Champions

AKKA ASP wins race; Bortolotti, Engelhart win Blancpain GT title…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

AKKA ASP won its first Blancpain GT Series race in a year on Sunday while Grasser Racing Team’s Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart were crowned overall champions in the season finale in Barcelona.

A strong showing from several Mercedes-AMG GT3s over the weekend led to the No. 88 AKKA ASP car winning the three-hour race at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with Tristan Vautier taking it across the line.

He was joined by local driver Daniel Juncadella and Felix Serralles for the car’s only podium finish of the season and defends his victory after winning the Sprint Cup round at Barcelona last year.

While Sprint Cup champion Robin Frijns crossed the line in second after putting his Team WRT Audi R8 LMS on pole earlier in the day, a third-place finish was enough to win Bortolotti and Engelhart the overall Blancpain GT championship.

The Grasser Racing Team drivers also wrapped up the Endurance Cup honors along with co-driver Andrea Caldarelli.

Luck played into the No. 63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3’s favor midway through the race as its sole competitor, the No. 8 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3, retired.

Andy Soucek reported a loss of power in the Bentley before coming to a halt in the pit lane. He was in the Endurance Cup title fight along with Maxime Soulet and Vincent Abril.

Abril was also the only driver capable of denying Bortolotti and Engelhart the overall title. 

The Grasser drivers won four of the first six races of the season but haven’t stood on the top step of the podium since the Silverstone round in May. 

They retired in the Total 24 Hours of Spa but took valuable points by leading at the halfway point. 

Bortolotti and Engelhart finish the season on 153 points in the overall standings while Maxi Buhk and Franck Perera overtook Abril to finish second, on 120 points. 

The three Grasser drivers scored 86 points in the Endurance Cup, giving them a seven-point advantage over the Bentley trio. 

Despite finishing second in the drivers’ championship, Bentley Team M-Sport claimed the teams’ title in the Endurance Cup, with Grasser taking the overall teams’ championship.

Engelhart started the Barcelona race from second but lost positions as the race got underway and fell out of the top five until after the first round of pit stops. 

With Caldarelli and Bortolotti in the car for the rest of the race, the Lamborghini stayed in third for most of the remaining two stints. 

The Bentley started from 28th after a poor qualifying session but soon made its way up the field, taking ten positions in the first few minutes. 

Soucek broke the top ten after slightly over one hour had been completed and engaged in a lengthy battle with ROWE Racing’s Alexander Sims before the mechanical issue forced him into the pits. 

After a failed attempt to take the lead in the chicane at the end of the last lap, Frijns finished 0.719 seconds behind Vautier’s Mercedes while Bortolotti was a further 40 seconds back.

Maxi Buhk and Adam Christodoulou made it three Mercedes in the top five with their HTP Motorsport and Team Black Falcon-run cars, respectively. 

Barwell Motorsport took home the Pro-Am Cup win with its No. 77 Lamborghini driven by Patrick Kujala, Hunter Abbott and Martin Kodric while Pierre Ehret and Rino Mastronardi won in the Am Cup for Rinaldi Racing. 

Alexander Matschull wrapped up the overall Pro-Am title while co-driver Daniel Keilwitz, who missed one round, finished second. Jonny Adam and Ahmad Al Harthy previously secured the Pro-Am Endurance title at Spa. 

A dominant season for David Perel in the Am Cup gave the South African driver a 77-point lead in the overall class standings while he won the Am Endurance cup by 11 points along with Jacques Duyver and Marco Zanuttini. 

A ten-minute safety car period was called during the first hour after the No. 82 Grasser Lamborghini went off into the gravel at the final corner. 

Three other short full course yellows were also brought out throughout the race to collect debris.

RESULTS: Barcelona

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist focusing on European series for Sportscar365. Kilshaw was the founder of WorldSportsCar.co.uk and is a member of the Autosport Academy. Contact Jake

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. daedalus

    October 1, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    fantastic race, ultra close racing for the top positions throughout, feel sorry for the Bentley guys they deserved a championship for a car that’s starting to show it’s age but the grasser team always kept out of trouble and that’s how you win championships.

  2. FlyingLobster27

    October 1, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    As always, lots of tension in the SRO GT Series finale.
    Bentley started on the back foot, but came out fighting, and it looked like it could get close after Engelhart’s… let’s say cautious, stint. But Caldarelli’s middle stint was stellar, and meanwhile Soucek was bogged down behind Sims, until the car gave up. I feel for M-Sport, is that 3 years in a row their drivers have ended up second in the Endurance series?
    Good fight in the final stint between Vautier and Frijns, good on the Audi driver to keep his last lunge clean. Congrats to AKKA-ASP for the race, and GRT for the season, a really brilliant campaign for the #63 Huracan.

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