Bentley Team M-Sport has dominated the first half of the Paul Ricard 1000km, as the third round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup season has three hours left to run.
Wolfgang Reip leads Bernd Schneider in the No. 8 Bentley Continental GT3 that he co-drives with Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet.
Pasin Lathouras started from pole position in his No. 50 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 but soon lost out to the two Bentley Continental GT3s of Guy Smith and Reip.
By the end of the first lap, Lathouras was down to tenth position, and Smith was leading a Bentley one-two in his No. 7 M-Sport car.
A fire in Jurgen Haring’s Attempto Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R as the race neared the one hour mark brought out a full course yellow which lasted for 14 minutes.
While many leading teams swapped drivers in the first pit stops, Smith stayed out in the Bentley.
Smith eventually ended his double stint to hand the car over to Vincent Abril just before the end of the second hour. This was after the second full course yellow had been enacted for barrier repairs as a result of Ian Loggie crashing his Team Parker Racing Bentley.
Soulet soon took the lead in his No. 8 Bentley, in front of Michele Beretta’s GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
The battle for third position was played out between Dries Vanthoor, Come Ledogar and Jazeman Jaafar, although Vanthoor’s No. 1 Belgian Audi Club WRT Audi R8 LMS lost positions through a pit stop for repairs.
Schneider’s No. 00 AMG-Team Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 took second position, but he is yet to complete his third pit stop unlike most other competitors.
Miguel Toril is Pro-Am leader in his Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3, while Stephane Lemeret is Am leader in the Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia GT3.