Christopher Mies held off a hard-charging Jules Szymkowiak for victory in Sunday’s Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Main Race at Brands Hatch, giving Belgian Audi Club Team WRT its second win of the season.
The Audi factory ace crossed the line just 0.548s seconds ahead of the No. 86 HTP Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Szymkowiak, after intense pressure from the Dutch driver in a ten-minute dash to the finish.
Schneider converted the pole position of the HTP Mercedes into the lead of the race and managed to build up a six-second lead to Enzo Ide in the No. 33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 prior to the pit window.
Ide overtook the No. 74 ISR Audi of Marlon Stockinger at the start for second, but soon came under pressure from Maxime Soulet in the No. 8 Bentley Continental GT3.
Soulet had moved up from P10 to P5 when the lights went green and gained another two positions by overtaking Frédéric Vervisch in the No. 1 WRT Audi and Stockinger in the ISR Audi for third.
Another quick pitstop by the WRT crew meant Mies took the lead when the No. 8 Bentley and No. 86 HTP Mercedes where battling for position in the pitlane one lap lap later.
“In my last two laps I ran into traffic, but I couldn’t come in earlier,” Schneider said.
“The cars didn’t see the blue flag, I definitely lost more than three seconds there and our pitstop also wasn’t that fast either.”
An incident involving the WRT Audis No. 3 and No. 2 resulted in a safety car intervention right after the pit window, bunching up the field for a final 10-minute sprint to the finish.
Szymkowiak’s HTP Mercedes was right underneath Mies’ rear wing, but the No. 33 WRT Audi was able to hang on to the lead and crossed the line with a 0.548s margin.
“I was expecting that the Mercedes was going to be quite strong, especially near the end of the race,” said Mies. “But luckily for us there are few spots where you can overtake and I could keep the door closed.”
“We changed the setup right before the start and it turned out very well. The WRT guys did a great pitstop and that made the difference.”
After only qualifying 24th for the Qualifying Race, Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek managed to fight back to third after two one-hour races in the No. 8 Bentley.
The fastest average pitstop time and a couple of daring overtaking manoeuvres were key to this result, with Soucek slotting in right behind the No. 86 HTP Mercedes in the pitlane.
Rob Bell and Alvaro Parente made steady progression throughout the race and moved up from eighth to fourth in the No. 58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3, while the No. 74 ISR Audi still managed to finish fifth after claiming pole for the Qualifying Race.
Following his win at Monza and another fourth place finish at Misano, Rob Bell now leads the overall Blancpain GT standings.
Misano Main Race winners Laurens Vanthoor and Frédéric Vervisch were already out of contention from the beginning, as the latter incurred a flat tire in the second lap.
The No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes of Maxi Buhk and Dominik Baumann still managed to salvage some points from 18th on the grid and crossed the line in seventh. They now trail Bell by four points in second.
Silver Cup honors went to Michele Beretta and Luca Stolz in the No. 19 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (tenth overall), while the No. 11 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Michael Broniszewski and Giacomo Piccini secured victory in Pro Am with 21st overall.
RESULTS: Main Race