HTP Motorsport celebrated its second victory in the Blancpain Endurance Series this afternoon at the Nürburgring.
The No. 84 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Maximilian Buhk, Bernd Schneider and Maximilian Götz won the Blancpain 1000 and Buhk secured the Pro Cup drivers’ championship after an epic final hour. Marc VDS Racing Team finished second overall and was crowned as Pro Cup teams’ champion.
Buhk, Schneider and Götz had built up a strong lead in the first hours of the race, but quicker pit stops by the Marc VDS Racing Team pit crew meant BMW Motorsport driver Maxime Martin was able to close the gap to Buhk and take the lead when Buhk pitted to change his brake pads as the race entered its final hour.
What followed was a frantic battle between Martin and Buhk.
Buhk’s Mercedes was clearly faster than the No. 3 BMW, but Martin was able to keep the German behind him for quite a while. Despite going door-to-door into turn 1, Martin managed to get his BMW back in front at the exit of the corner and retain the lead.
With just over half an hour remaining, Buhk was quicker out of the Warsteiner Corner and with a rather brave maneuver through he passed Martin and went into the NGK chicane leading the race.It was the decisive moment in the race as Martin was unable to respond and Buhk raced to the race win and the drivers’ title.
Martin finished second for Marc VDS Racing Team and the No. 11 ART Grand Prix McLaren MP4-12C GT3 came home in third place.
“It is just amazing. We did great job in Spa, so it helped us a lot in the championship table and we came here with the aim to do well again. And today’s race was perfect,” said newly crowned champion Buhk after the race had finished.
“Actually, when I came out of the pits at the end of the race, I was a bit angry to see that Maxime Martin was in front of me because I did not expect that. I was really fighting hard to follow him because he was quick and then I managed to pass him and it was easier for me to keep the lead. But I am thrilled with the result and really happy to be the Champion.”
Pre-race points leaders Kessel Racing and title candidates Belgian Audi Club Team WRT had a weekend to forget.
Kessel was involved in a number of incidents and was given two stop-and-go penalties. The No. 13 Audi of Frank Stippler, Christopher Mies and René Rast was second at some point, but brake issues and a collision meant it dropped down the order and the car eventually finished in 16th place.
Nissan GT Academy Team RJN secured the teams’ title in the Pro-Am category, despite the two Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3s being involved in several incidents.
The No. 71 SMP Racing Ferrari eventually won the Pro-Am class at the Nürburgring, but the No. 35 Nissan scored enough points to win the championship. Lucas Ordonez won the Pro-Am Cup drivers’ title.
Main rivals AF Corse retired early in the race when Fabio Babini in the No. 50 Ferrari made contact with the No. 23 JRM Racing Nissan and crashed into the barrier. The accident resulted in the only safety car period in the race in order to clean the track.
RACE RESULTS: Click Here