Christian Engelhart held off Maxi Buhk to win the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup round at Silverstone by just 0.344 seconds, taking his and Grasser Racing Team’s fourth win in succession.
The Lamborghini driver was forced to defend from his countryman who was on a hard charge in the final few laps of the race, but did enough to extend his and Mirko Bortolotti’s championship lead.
Bortolotti took the start in the No. 63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 from second on the grid, passing Felix Serralles’ AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 around the outside at the first corner.
The Italian driver then went on to lead all of his stint, before handing the car over to Andrea Caldarelli.
While Grasser lost the lead to Michael Meadows in the No. 90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG during the second stint, a fast pit stop put Engelhart back out in front for the final 60 minutes.
He never lost the lead during the remainder of the race, although a tense battle with Buhk’s No. 84 Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport car and Raffaele Marciello’s No. 90 AKKA ASP Mercedes ensued.
There was controversy in the lead battle towards the end as Richard Abra’s Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini, running in the Pro-Am Cup, hindered the progress of the leaders for a few minutes.
All three drivers eventually made their way past the car, but it slowed down both Mercedes more than the Lamborghini.
Buhk was by far the faster driver of the three, setting the car’s fastest lap of the race during the final few laps, but he was unable to pass the Lamborghini in time.
It marked Engelhart and Bortolotti’s fourth win in a row, having also won both Sprint Cup races at Brands Hatch last weekend and the Endurance Cup round at Monza alongside Caldarelli.
“Those last few laps were really difficult,” said Engelhart. “I was surprised that the Mercedes could close the gap so quickly, and I realized it would be a tight finish.
“The backmarkers did not make it easier for me, but it was exciting. I really enjoyed that and of course we are happy with this win. I think it’s the result of some hard work during the winter.
“At the last test before the start of the season, we understood the new Pirelli tire completely, and I think we are getting everything out of the package at the moment.”
Serralles started from pole after Daniel Juncadella’s Qualifying run but was given a penalty which dropped the car down the order.
This was as a result of a false start from the Puerto Rican driver who had contact with Bortolotti as the first attempt at a start was aborted. The race got underway after a second formation lap.
Bortolotti was able to increase his lead throughout his hour-long stint, despite two safety car periods.
The first was called for the Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3, on the first race of a two-race return for the team, when it was hit by the No. 32 Team Zakspeed Mercedes at Luffield.
Later, contact between the sister Zakspeed car and Jonny Kane’s Strakka Racing-run McLaren sent the latter into the barrier at high speed at Maggotts, while also losing its right-rear wheel.
The remainder of the race ran smoothly under green, meanwhile.