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Frijns, Leonard Win Blancpain GT Sprint Cup in Thrilling Finale

Frijns, Leonard crowned Blancpain GT Sprint Cup champions…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Robin Frijns and Stuart Leonard have been crowned Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup champions after a thrilling finale at the Nürburgring on Sunday in which the two main title contenders dropped out.

The Team WRT drivers started the race in third position but a puncture for Maxi Buhk and drive-through penalty for Dries Vanthoor set the No. 17 Audi R8 LMS up to win the title.

Leonard started the race from sixth while title favorites Franck Perera and Marcel Fassler in the No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 and No. 5 WRT Audi looked set to battle for the championship.

Perera led the race from pole position and came into the pits without losing his lead but a delayed stop for the HTP crew meant co-driver Buhk came out of the pits behind Vanthoor’s No. 5 Audi.

However, Buhk soon went wide at the final corner with a puncture, causing an instant retirement for the 2015 Sprint Cup champion.

While this looked set to give the No. 5 Audi the championship advantage, Vanthoor was later called in to serve a drive-through penalty as a result of an air hose catching a mechanic during the pit stop and knocking him over.

Vanthoor served the penalty quickly but lost several positions and eventually crossed the line in tenth position.

Markus Winkelhock assumed the lead in his No. 2 WRT Audi but was denied the race win and championship by teammate Frijns who passed him on track to put the silver and yellow Audi out front.

The Dutchman remained in the lead for the remainder of the race and finished 3.9 seconds ahead of Winkelhock while Andrea Caldarelli came home third in the No. 19 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3.

Caldarelli’s co-driver Ezequiel Perez Companc went off track at the end of lap one, and lost several positions from his front-row start, when he was forced off track by Maxime Soulet who was given a drive-through penalty for the incident.

Frijns and Leonard finish the season with 82 points, giving them an eight-point lead over Winkelhock and Stevens. 

Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart held onto the overall Blancpain GT points lead with a fifth-place finish and are 22 points clear of Vincent Abril heading into the Endurance Cup finale in two weeks’ time.

Daniel Keilwitz and Alexander Matschull won the Pro-Am battle and class title while Fabian Schiller and Jules Szymkowiak were victorious in the Silver Cup.

The race had one Full Course Yellow when Kevin Ceccon’s ISR Audi caught fire on the pit straight, eventually causing the safety car to be brought out and setting the field up for a restart just before the pit window opened.

RESULTS: Main Race

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.


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