Laurens Vanthoor and Frédéric Vervisch have scored a convincing win in Sunday’s Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Main Race at Misano.
After losing out on last night’s Qualifying Race win due to a Full Course Yellow during the pit window, the No. 1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS of the Belgian duo fought back from third on the grid.
The pole-sitting No. 8 Bentley Continental GT3 of Maxime Soulet lost the lead at the start to the No. 99 ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 of Philipp Eng and was tapped into a spin by Dries Vanthoor’s No. 4 WRT Audi a couple of laps later.
Vervisch immediately started to pressure Eng’s BMW and eventually forced his way past 15 minutes into the race.
After gaining two positions at the start, Dominik Baumann’s No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 also passed Eng in the wake of Vervisch’s maneuver.
It didn’t take long before the ROWE BMW also came under pressure from the AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Tristan Vautier, though Eng held on to third until the pitstops.
Positions remained the same at the head of the field after the pit window closed, although the margins got considerably larger.
Maxi Buhk managed to close in on Vanthoor’s Audi towards the end, but the Belgian secured the win by 1.6 seconds over the HTP Mercedes.
“Philipp Eng did a good job with a car that was a bit less good as ours,” said Vervisch. “I could overtake him in a safe manner and then everything fell into place with a great pitstop.
“We were not the quickest today, but we managed to put it together and P1 is what counts.”
“I was hoping for a little bit of traffic when I was closing in on Vanthoor,” said Buhk. “I’m pretty sure he saw me in the mirror and he was convinced he’d get P1.”
Felix Rosenqvist brought the No. 88 AKKA ASP Mercedes back into podium contention, despite losing almost 10 seconds with a slow pitstop by the French team.
The Swedish driver hunted down the ROWE BMW, now in the hands of Alexander Sims, and overtook it after making contact.
Ultimately, Sims got his podium position back, as Rosenqvist had to retire the car one minute from the end of the one-hour race.
Rob Bell and Alvaro Parente drove a quiet but very solid race in the No. 58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3, starting ninth on the grid the car progressed consistently through the field, picking up the pieces as others made mistakes to finish fourth.
The No. 75 ISR Audi of Frank Stippler and Filip Salaquarda ended up in P5, in front of the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia of Marco Seefried and Norbert Siedler.
Lamborghini somewhat surprisingly struggled on it’s home track, with the best-placed Huracán GT3 being the No. 101 Attempto Racing car of Daniel Zampieri and Patric Niederhauser in 10th.
Qualifying Race winners Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek managed to get the No. 8 Bentley back up to P11, after it dropped all the way back to P32 following it’s early spin.
Reigning Blancpain Endurance champion Alex Buncombe ended up 14th in the No. 23 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 he shares with Mitsunori Takaboshi.
Despite the large number of cars on track and tensions running high sometimes, there were no big incidents, no safety car interventions and only one official retirement.
RESULTS: Main Race