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Bortolotti, Engelhart Win First Blancpain GT Race of Season

Grasser Racing Team’s reigning champions win Race 1 at Zolder on Saturday afternoon…

Photo: Olivier Beroud Images

Reigning champions Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart won the opening Blancpain GT Series race of the season at Zolder on Saturday afternoon.

After their No. 63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 had run in second position for the first half, the Grasser Racing Team drivers moved into the lead during the pit stops, with Bortolotti out front after the halfway point in the 60-minute race. 

Engelhart started second on the grid and remained close to leader Dries Vanthoor in the No. 2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3, whose co-driver Will Stevens eventually finished second.

The Grasser driver pitted one lap before Vanthoor, while Bortolotti made the most of his out lap to ensure Stevens was unable to keep the lead. 

“It’s the best possible way to start the season,” said Bortolotti.

“Yesterday, we were struggling a lot and we decided to make big changes to the car, really taking gambles as well. They worked, so I’m really happy from that side.

“We had a really good first stint with Christian, we had a really good pit stop and I had a really good out lap.”

Vanthoor revealed post-race that he had been blocked during his in lap, thus losing time.

Stevens then went on to hold onto second position despite being pressured by fellow WRT driver Christopher Mies, driving the No. 1 Audi which ran in third for the entire race.

Kelvin van der Linde and Robin Frijns made it four Audis in the top five in their Attempto Racing and WRT-run cars, while Andrea Caldarelli took sixth in the No. 19 Grasser Lamborghini.

Frijns passed the Italian driver in the first corner complex shortly after the stops.

Gilles Magnus started his first GT3 race from fourth overall but lost a couple of positions before handing the No. 3 WRT Audi over to Alessio Picariello who finished seventh and in the lead of the Silver Cup.

Nico Bastian had challenged for the Silver Cup lead earlier in the race but the No. 90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 dropped back to finish 11th overall.

Kessel Racing took a 1-2 finish in the Pro-Am Cup with the TP 12 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Piti Bhirombhakdi and Carlo van Dam ahead of the Giacomo Piccini and Michael Broniszewski-driven car.  

There were no major incidents in the race with green-flag conditions throughout, although the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 and No. 55 Attempto Audi both retired while Franck Perera pitted the No. 82 Grasser Lamborghini with a mechanical issue.

Bortolotti will start tomorrow’s Race 2 from pole position, taking the green flag at 1:30 p.m. local time. It will be streamed live on the series’ website and GT World YouTube channel.

RESULTS: Race 1

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist who is Sportscar365's European Editor and also Managing Editor for e-racing365. He is a student of Politics and International Relations. Contact Jake

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