Enzo Ide held on from a charging Rob Bell to secure the Qualifying Race victory for he and Christopher Mies in Saturday’s Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup round at Nürburgring.
Ide assumed the lead in the No. 33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS coming out of the pit stops, after Alvaro Parente had lead the way throughout the first half of the race.
It looked like Bell might be able to pull something off on the last lap to win the race in his No. 58 Garage 59 McLaren that he had taken over from pole-sitter Parente, but he could ultimately only manage to reduce Ide’s lead to 0.304 seconds at the line.
“We had a fantastic pitstop, the boys did a perfect job once again,” said Ide. “I had healthy lead, but when my engineer warned me that the McLaren was closing in, I must admit I was getting a little nervous.
“Rob and I had a fair fight and I have to say that as an amateur driver it made me very happy to be able to hold the more experienced professional drivers behind.”
Mies took second position from the start, ahead of Rene Rast in the No. 28 WRT Audi. The leading trio remained the same until the pit stops, but WRT once again proved its skill in the pit lane, and a late stop for Mies just as the pit window closed payed off.
By the end of Ide’s out lap, the gap to Bell, who had pitted a couple of laps earlier, was 8.8 seconds.
This was after the British driver had passed Marlon Stockinger in the ISR Audi, who was temporarily running second until he slid and lost time.
Soon after, Will Stevens passed Stockinger to put a second WRT car onto the podium, and ensure that the top three at the end were the same cars as in the first stint, albeit in a different order.
The battle a bit further behind was closer for most of the race, with a three-way fight for sixth position between Philipp Eng, Dries Vanthoor and Maxime Soulet breaking out in the first stint.
With Stockinger finishing fourth in his and Franck Perera’s No. 74 ISR Audi, Nico Mueller was the fastest of the battling trio, finishing fifth in the No. 4 WRT Audi he shares with the younger of the Vanthoor brothers.
Andy Soucek’s Bentley Continental GT3 was sixth, in front of Alexander Sims in the No. 99 ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3.
It was a hectic race for the No. 1 WRT Audi of Laurens Vanthoor and Frederic Vervisch. Having started well, Vanthoor was spun around at the first corner and dropped straight to the back of field.
Vervisch was running comfortably inside the top ten before bringing the car into the pits with just a few minutes to go.
While the No. 58 McLaren was running at the front, there were difficulties in the Garage 59 camp with the No. 59 car.
Having lost considerable grid positions, the car retired with 15 minutes to go, bringing out the sole full course yellow to recover it for two minutes.
The No. 11 Ferrari 488 GT3 won Pro-Am for Kessel Racing, despite a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane, while Grasser Racing Team was victorious in Silver Cup with the No. 19 Lamborghini Huracan GT3. AF Corse won the Am Cup with the No. 55 Ferrari F458 Italia GT3.
The Main Race starts at 2:45 p.m. local time Sunday, with the No. 33 Audi starting from pole position.