Laurens Vanthoor and Robin Frijns have won their third consecutive race in the Blancpain Sprint Series at Zolder this afternoon.
Vanthoor took the start, before handing over to Frijns halfway through. The Dutchman kept his rivals at bay and went on to take the pair’s second Qualifying Race win of the season.
Belgian Audi Club Team WRT effectively lost two cars before Vanthoor had even made it to the first corner.
The No. 3 Audi R8 LMS ultra was spun across the front of the No. 55 Attempto Racing McLaren of Rob Bell, before hitting the No. 4 sister car of Frank Stippler.
Onto the back straight Vanthoor led from Maximilian Buhk in the No. 84 Bentley Team HTP Bentley Continental GT3, the same chassis that crashed heavily at Brands Hatch, with Norbert Siedler’s No. 333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 in third place.
Vanthoor opened up a gap, which reached just over three seconds before he pitted at the end of lap 20. The reigning Blancpain GT champion was followed into the pits by Buhk and Siedler.
A quick pit stop by the Belgian team tripled that advantage after Frijns had returned to the track. Marco Seefried passed Vincent Abril in the pits, taking the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari to second overall.
Despite setting faster times Seefried was unable to catch the leading WRT Audi and it was Frijns who crossed the line in first place after 39 laps, Seefried taking second place at 5.5 seconds.
“I wasn’t cruising. I was a bit controlling the gap, but I was still pushing and asking my engineer what the gap was every lap. They kept gaining. It will be interesting tomorrow,” Frijns said.
“All of a sudden the Audi appeared in front of me. I was informed about the gap by the team, but to me it was obvious: if they didn’t make a mistake it was too big a gap to catch up,” said Seefried after the race.
Abril came home in third place, just over seven seconds behind the Ferrari, followed by the Phoenix Racing Audi of Niki Mayr-Melnhof and Markus Winkelhock.
“Obviously we have a big car and it’s probably not best suited here. We thought we had a better race pace, we have some work to do and P3 in Zolder means that we can fight for much higher everywhere,” said Abril.
“We were expecting to have a slightly better race pace. I had difficulties keeping the Ferrari behind me,” added Buhk.
The No. 77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil BMW finished in fifth, while the battle for sixth between the No. 73 MRS GT Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 and the No. 0 BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil BMW was decided on the line.
Caca Bueno passed Sean Walkinshaw exiting the final corner, but accelerating down the finish straight the Nissan passed the BMW right before the line, the gap just 0.068 seconds at the line.
Jules Szymkowiak completed the top eight in the No. 83 Bentley Team HTP Bentley Continental GT3, also winning the Silver Cup. The No. 70 GT Russian Team Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 won the Pro-Am Cup.
“I had some struggles with traction at the last corner and that’s why I couldn’t catch them over the line. I think I caught them because of the defending moves of the Nissan,” said Szymkowiak. “But if I would have had a little more traction out of the corner I would have passed them probably.”