Silver Cup duo Simon Gachet and Steven Palette won overall for Sainteloc Racing in the second GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup race at Magny-Cours.
Despite losing its lead during the pit window, the pole-sitting No. 26 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo got back ahead early in the second stint with Palette behind the wheel.
Palette then sped away to take the checkered flag 8.2 seconds clear of Timur Boguslavskiy in the No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo to earn a victory on home soil for the French Sainteloc squad with its two French drivers.
Gachet, who led Sunday morning’s qualifying session, converted his pole position at the start by leading away from Boguslavskiy’s co-driver Raffaele Marciello and Maro Engel.
Further back, drama ensued as Jules Gounon’s Bentley Continental GT3 spun exiting Turn 1 following a touch from Thomas Neubauer in the Tech 1 Racing Lexus RC F GT3.
While Gounon recovered, this incident and other contacts between cars in the mid-pack caused the track to be strewn with debris and resulted in an early safety car period.
Gachet held his advantage at the single-file restart after five minutes behind the safety car and kept Marciello a couple of seconds behind as the race settled into a rhythm.
When the pit window opened after 25 minutes Engel was the first to come in, changing for Luca Stolz, while the Sainteloc and AKKA-ASP cars pitted four and five laps later.
The Haupt Racing Team Mercedes remained third despite its early stop strategy call, while AKKA-ASP turned its car around three seconds quicker than Sainteloc to put Boguslavskiy into a narrow lead over Palette.
However, only a couple of minutes later, the Russian driver veered out wide into the gravel at the exit of Estoril, enabling Palette to pounce and regain the advantage.
The Audi driver went on to break clear, while Boguslavskiy fell into the reach of Stolz who hustled his fellow Mercedes-AMG competitor but couldn’t find a way past.
Nonetheless, third place for Engel and Stolz ensured they closed the gap to points leaders Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, who finished fourth in their Team WRT Audi.
Two and a half points now separate the HRT and WRT crews after Engel and Stolz took victory in Saturday night’s race, in addition to their Sunday podium.
Weerts successfully defended fourth place from the Pro Sainteloc Audi of Arthur Rougier in the closing stages after the WRT Audi vaulted three positions in the pit sequence.
Ryuichiro Tomita and Kelvin van der Linde were sixth in the Belgian squad’s other Pro-class car, ahead of the Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini duo of Mikael Grenier and Norbert Siedler.
The other Emil Frey car, which was running fifth early on, lost ground with a stop-and-hold penalty for Albert Costa who nudged Frederic Vervisch’s Attempto Racing Audi off the road heading into the Nürburgring chicane.
In eighth overall was the Silver Cup class runner-up Mercedes-AMG of Oscar Tunjo and Juuso Puhakka, who scooped category honors in Race 1.
Tunjo finished 19 seconds and one place ahead of the No. 33 WRT Audi driven by Hamza and Jusuf Owega.
Sky-Tempesta Racing continued its form with the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 in Pro-Am as Jonathan Hui and Giancarlo Fisichella won again to sweep the weekend.
Fisichella paced the opening stint from pole despite losing some overall positions and ran ahead of AF Corse’s Andrea Bertolini and Sky-Tempesta driver Eddie Cheever III.
This order of cars maintained through the driver swaps, before Cheever’s co-driver Chris Froggatt dispatched Bertolini’s driving partner Louis Machiels for second.
Froggatt was then right on the tail of Hui throughout the final 20 minutes and crossed the line half a second behind his teammate.
At the head of the field, Sainteloc claimed its first GTWC Europe Sprint Cup victory since Zandvoort Race 2 last year when Gachet won with Christopher Haase, while Gachet and Palette became the first Silver Cup pairing to win since the 2019 season-opener.
RESULTS: Magny-Cours Race 2