Laurens Vanthoor and Robin Frijns have extended their Blancpain Sprint Series points lead by winning Sunday’s Main Race at Portimao, while title rivals Maxi Buhk and Vincent Abril only managed fourth after a slow pitstop.
Buhk kept the lead at the start in his No. 84 Bentley Team HTP Continental GT3 and immediately opened a gap to the No. 1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra of Frijns.
Unlike yesterday’s Qualifying Race, Frijns wasn’t able to pressure the Bentley and already faced a gap of seven seconds when the safety car came out 18 minutes into the race.
A hole at the apex of Turn 2 had to be repaired, as a grill of the drainage system came loose.
The safety car came in when the pit window opened, resulting in the entire field except the leading HTP Bentley diving into the pitlane.
Buhk continued to post purple sectors, but when he finally decided to come in he was held up by the No. 0 BMW Team Brasil car he was about to lap.
Things went from bad to worse as Abril stalled the Bentley on the restart, the Frenchman rejoining the track only in fourth place, ten seconds of the lead.
From then on it was clear sailing for Vanthoor in the No. 1 Audi, crossing the line with a 8.6-second advantage over Markus Winkelhock in the Phoenix Audi R8, scoring its best result of the season.
Niki Mayr Melnhof had lost second in the first part of the race to the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Nobert Siedler, but a quicker pitstop brought the Phoenix Audi back in front of the green Ferrari, now in the hands of Marco Seefried.
Seefried came under pressure of Abril’s Bentley towards the end of the one-hour race, but was able to secure a fourth podium of the season.
Finishing fourth, Abril and Buhk now face a 26-point deficit to Vanthoor and Frijns in the standings, with a total of 68 points still up for grabs at Misano and Zandvoort.
The No. 3 WRT Audi of Stéphane Ortelli and Stéphane Richelmi recovered well from yesterday’s retirement and crossed the line in fifth (+22.783s), with the Monegasque duo moving up to third in the standings.
Nick Catsburg brought the Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX home in sixth, after a slow pitstop the Dutchman was on a charge but was tapped into a spin when trying to pass the Brazilian BMW of Valdeno Brito.
Catsburg lost three positions, but still passed Christopher Mies (No. 2 WRT Audi) and Craig Dolby (No. 173 Always Evolving Nissan), while Brito got a drive through for the incident.
RESULTS: Main Race