Tristan Vautier and Felix Rosenqvist won Sunday’s Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup finale at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, as Enzo Ide secured the Sprint Cup drivers’ title and Maxi Buhk and Dominik Baumann claimed the overall Blancpain GT Championship.
Starting from third on the grid, Vautier’s No. 88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 took the lead from Ide’s pole-sitting No. 33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS in the opening lap.
A controlled drive by the Frenchman and his Swedish co-driver Rosenqvist never saw their lead come under threat, with the No. 8 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 of Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek being there main challenger today.
“We had to take some risks, making some changes to the car between the races,” said Vautier. “I kept pushing hard to build a gap because I knew the others would be strong on new tires in the second part of the race.
“We’ve been chasing this Main Race win all season. We’ve come so close before but this time we all put it together.”
Ide avoided all risks in the opening laps and settled for third during his stint, keeping the 24 Hours of Spa-winning No. 99 ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 of Philipp Eng at bay.
Frijns upped the pace in the second half of the 60-minute race and put the No. 8 Bentley of Andy Soucek under serious pressure for second, but eventually settled for third.
“I didn’t need to race them,” said Ide, who won four out of the ten sprint races this season.
“I wasn’t going to take any risks. The Mercedes and Bentley were just faster. We didn’t need to finish on the podium, but this is a great way to end the season.”
Ide’s regular co-driver Christopher Mies clinched the ADAC GT Masters title today at Hockenheim, but still finished second in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup drivers’ standings due to the 17-point lead the duo had build up prior to this weekend.
Buhk and Baumann were never in a position to threaten Ide’s Sprint Cup title in the No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3, as the Belgian headed into the final race with a 24-point lead while there were only 25 points still up for grabs.
The HTP duo battled for position in the second half of the top ten, with Alessio Picariello’s No. 5 Phoenix Racing Audi proving to be impossible to overtake.
Buhk and Baumann collected another four points for finishing eighth, which was more than enough for them to secure the overall Blancpain GT Series drivers’ title.
“It’s amazing to win the championship, but to do it in this way is not really satisfying,” said Buhk. “The race was really difficult. We were stuck behind the Phoenix Audi that was making our lives really hard.”
Newly crowned Endurance Cup champion Rob Bell had no chance to make up his six-point deficit by starting 16th on the grid.
The No. 58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3 never even made it into the points-paying positions and eventually finished 13th.
The third place finish of Ide and Frijns also meant that WRT has overtaken HTP in the Sprint Cup teams’ standings with a margin of just seven points.
However, HTP still managed to claim the overall Teams Championship over WRT.
Laurens Vanthoor and Frédéric Vervisch drove a remarkable couple of races today. The duo recovered from engine issues during practice and piloted the No. 1 WRT Audi to a fourth place result in the Main Race.
The No. 63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán of Mirko Bortolotti and Nicolas Pohler completed the top-five, with the latter losing ground quickly during the first half of the race.
RESULTS: Main Race