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GT World Challenge Europe

Marciello, Abril Lead Lights-to-Flag; Title Battle Closes Up

Marciello, Abril dominate Race 1; title battle down now between FFF and Black Falcon…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

Raffaele Marciello and Vincent Abril led all of Saturday’s penultimate Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe round of the year at the Hungaroring while the championship battle was narrowed down to two cars.

Driving the No. 88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG after securing pole for both races earlier in the day, Marciello and Abril led from lights to flag while the action unfolded behind them.

That pairing, which includes 2018 Blancpain GT champion Marciello, are out of this year’s GT World Challenge Europe title hunt, although four driver pairs headed to Hungary with a shot.

That has now narrowed down to two driver pairings: Orange 1 FFF Racing Team’s Andrea Caldarelli/Marco Mapelli and Black Falcon’s Maro Engel/Luca Stolz.

Mirko Bortolotti/Christian Engelhart (Grasser Racing Team) and Christopher Haase/Simon Gachet (Sainteloc Racing) were therefore eliminated after failing to score enough points on Saturday afternoon.

The race started behind the safety car owing to wet conditions but green-flag racing got underway after around nine minutes.

Bortolotti made his way past Stolz for second during the first stint, and the positions remained the same all through the pit stops, with Marciello leading, followed by Engelhart and Engel.

Engel made his way past Engelhart’s Grasser Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo on the last lap, making it a Mercedes 1-2 with his Black Falcon car finishing 2.4 seconds behind Marciello’s AKKA ASP machine.

Caldarelli and Mapelli lead the championship heading into Sunday’s finale but with a reduced gap of just two points over Engel and Stolz.

Engel’s last-lap move proved hugely beneficial, with second-place paying 12 points versus 9.5 for third. A win on Sunday will pay 16.5 points.

The FFF pair finished fifth after team owner/driver Caldarelli passed Hugo de Sadeleer’s R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

Bortolotti and Engelhart still came home third, ahead of Attempto Racing’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo of Kelvin van der Linde and Clemens Schmidt.

AKKA ASP swept the top three classes, with Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer winning the Silver Cup and Jim Pla and Jean-Luc Beaubelique taking Pro-Am honors.

Race 2 will take place on Sunday at 1:45 p.m. local time (7:45 a.m. EDT).


Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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