René Rast and Enzo Ide in the No. 2 WRT Audi won the Blancpain Sprint Series Main Race at Zandvoort, as a light rain shower halfway through the race shook up the order.
The No. 76 Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 of Dominik Baumann and Thomas Jäger and the No. 21 Herberth Motorsport Porsche of Jaap Van Lagen and Robert Renauer completed the podium, both cars making their first appearance in the series this weekend.
Starting from P4, Ide immediately gained one position behind the leading No. 28 GRT Lamborghini and No. 84 HTP Mercedes, as a crash involving the No. 60 Bhaitech McLaren of Fabio Onidi and No. 3 G-Drive Racing Audi of Roman Rusinov brought out the Safety Car.
While Ide couldn’t keep up with leaders Hari Proczyk and Maxi Götz after the restart, he managed to maintain his third position and came in at the earliest opportunity to hand over to Rast.
Proczyk pitted his GRT Lambo at the same time, but the winning car of yesterday’s Qualifying Race fell out of contention as the right rear wheel wouldn’t come off, with Bleekemolen rejoining the track outside the top ten and the No. 2 Audi moving up to second.
As Rast started the chase on the leading HTP Mercedes in the hands of Maxi Buhk, rain once again arrived at the Dutch track at the halfway mark, though the majority of the field decided to stay on slicks, as most of the pitstops were already made in dry conditions.
The No. 76 Schubert BMW of Baumann also joined Buhk and Rast at the front of the field, and as championship leader Bhuk spun his Mercedes when the track was starting to dry out, both he and Rast moved up one position.
Despite a small mistake, Rast went on to keep Baumann at bay and won with a gap of 1.366s on the Schubert BMW.
“We had a small discussion on the radio if we take rain or stay on slick tires, in the end I made the call and said ok we pull the risk and stay on slicks and in the end it paid off,” said Rast.
“I couldn’t see anyone in the mirrors. I thought, okay now let’s go a bit slower, try to stay on track and no risks and then apparently he was there, from one lap to the other lap. Then I had to push again, but luckily the track dried up a little bit and we could do fast lap times again.”
“At first I had to fight with the Mercedes, but he spun in front of me,” said Baumann. “Then it was really tricky to drive, we had some dry spots, some wets spots, but as it dried up it got more difficult for us to overtake.”
Local hero Van Lagen excelled in the second part of the race, as he moved the No. 21 Herberth Porsche up through the top ten to claim the final spot on the podium (+20.732s).
“I am really happy with the podium place, because we were struggling a lot during the weekend with the grip of the Pirelli tires,” said Van Lagen.
“We changed the setup during the weekend and I think we made some really good changes and improvements. Still, in the dry conditions we are not quick enough, in wet conditions the Porsche is really good.”
After his spin, Buhk brought the No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes home in fourth, retaining the championship lead in doing so, as their main rival, the No. 28 GRT Lamborghini, finished right behind in fifth.
It was Bleekemolen who still salvaged a decent points day after the disastrous pitstop, the Dutchman carving through the field in the difficult conditions.
The No. 4 WRT Audi and No. 34 Roal Motorsport BMW mounted wet tires, as the rain already started to fall during their late pitstop. However, the decision didn’t pay off with both cars losing a potential top five finish in the final 15 minutes of the race as the track started to dry out.
The No. 4 Audi of Mateusz Lisowski and Vincent Abril still won the Silver Cup, finishing ninth overall in front of the No. 1 WRT Audi of Cesar Ramos and Laurens Vanthoor, which was one of the few cars to make an extra pitstop for rain tires.
The Blancpain Sprint Series return to action on August 22-24 at the Slovakia Ring.
RESULTS: Main Race