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Blancpain GT

Engelhart Holds Off Buhk for Fourth Straight Win

Engelhart, GRT hold on for fourth straight Blancpain GT win…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

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.

RESULTS: Silverstone

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

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. KW

    May 14, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Looks like the Blancpain championship will focus on a battle between Grasser/Lamborghini and HTP/Mercedes. I wonder why especially here at Silverstone the Audi, McLaren, and BMW were way down the order – when you look at the qualifying results you find the best Audi, McLaren, and BMW on the ranks 24,25 and 31. Not good on high downforce circuits?

  2. anon

    May 14, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Looks like they need to BOP and do the OP please nerf the Lamborghini and Mercedes as they are again too dominant. And need some balance to get the Audi, McLaren, BMW and Ferrari back up

    • StueyB83

      May 15, 2017 at 12:52 am

      The #84 Merc and the #63 GRT Lambo are stocked up on the most strong and consistent driver line-ups in the field – all other numerous entries of both models of car in the race were no-where (aside from AKKA).

      The #55 Ferrari should also be in the mix, but they keep shooting themselves in the foot with penalties or poor qualifying.

      There are other cars which are just as fast with the right guy in the drivers seat – Pier Guidi for example. But the rest of the line ups are weak and can’t wring out consistency.

      It will be interesting to see what tweaks will happen going forward

      • Tim Streif

        May 15, 2017 at 3:41 am

        The SRO and Blancpain needs to take a look at the Grasser Lambo’s.. There is no way they can consistently 6-7km/h faster on the straights compared to ANY other Lambo team. And this is at every circuit. Whether you look at the sector times in Blancpain, ADAC.. every championship and you will find the same thing.

        • StueyB83

          May 15, 2017 at 10:39 am

          There needs to be a look at it, yes.

          If I read the result right; Bortolotti reeled off the only 2:00:XXX lap of the race on lap 3 with a full tank.

          No matter how hard they tweak BoP, its still hard to converge all cars. Some may still well be sandbagging for improvements at Spa.

  3. Luna

    May 14, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Looks like in Europe the Lamborghini Huracán is “the car”.
    It’s only in USA that they don’t win. Good car, good drivers (when they don’t make mistakes), a couple of reasonably good teams, pathetic management.

    • Travis McBee

      May 14, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      The hell you talking about? Lambo won at VIR last year…

    • Hurricane

      May 15, 2017 at 7:23 am

      Why are you always so ‘anti lambo’ in your comments – they haven’t been around long enough to have upset someone as much as you seem to be.

  4. cbbrit

    May 14, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    There’s definitely something wrong with the BoP, when both of the Emil Frey Jaguars finish ahead of any Audi R8s!

    • StueyB83

      May 15, 2017 at 12:46 am

      How people forget that without WRT running any R8’s and with Vanthoor headed to Porsche and Mies dedicated to VLN and ADAC GT, the crack teams and drivers that run the R8’s to perfection are no more in Blancpain – so the car is nowhere this year.

      • Tim Streif

        May 15, 2017 at 3:37 am

        So you honestly think WRT forgot what they are doing overnight and that Dries Vanthoor, Marcel Fässler, and Will Stevens is not a competitive lineup?

        • StueyB83

          May 15, 2017 at 10:34 am

          Yes, Dries is not his brother and Will Stevens has not set the world alight in GT3 – he cant even demonstrate superior taalent in the Asian series.

          None can wring the R8 hard like it has been previously.

          You know they are not the creme de la creme of Audi pilots – and BoP shouldnt compensate for that.

          • Tim Streif

            May 17, 2017 at 4:15 am

            I’d say Dries is not far away. And Will Stevens I can agree, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that their race lap pace is 1sec quicker. All I’m saying is, put Bortolotti and Englehart in a NON-Grasser lambo and it will be quickly proven that they are not the creme de la creme either.

            Simply watch the last half of Bortolotti’s onboard pole position lap from Silverstone. Easily gives away 3-4 tenths in mistakes, plus traffic, then blows by the Ferrari on the straight like its in the GT4 class. And still only missed pole position by 2 tenths!

      • KW

        May 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm

        I don’t think so. I think that WRT still has a strong driver lineup. The lack of Laurens Vanthoor and Christopher Mies was compensated by engaging people like Faessler, Tréluyer and Richelmi. In my opinion Bortolotti/Caldarelli/Engelhart are on the level of many other GT3 Pro lineups, but not outstanding. And it’s not only Audi that is out-BOP’d – Rob Bell and Come Ledogar won the championship last year, and where are they now? Place 25 in qualifying… I’m not really complaining about BOP, but it explains a lot…

  5. Hugo

    May 15, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    I reckon the reason GRT are winning is not so much the BoP but simply the fact they are the works / ex-works team, and the other Lamborghini outfits are not. It gives them an inherent advantage. On a different note, am I the only one unimpressed by the series’s race director? The start was chaotic to say the least and the response to the McLaren going off was too slow.

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