Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts picked up the first Audi win of the Blancpain GT Series season on Sunday afternoon, taking their Belgian Audi Club Team WRT car to victory in Race 2 at Misano.
It marked a considerable turn in fortunes for the Belgian pairing whose hopes of a win in Race 1 were ended when Weerts spun into the gravel from the lead.
The pair remained in the top two for all of Sunday’s race at the Italian circuit, with Weerts exiting the pits in the lead and holding off more experienced drivers behind him to win the fourth Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe round of the year.
Eighteen-year-old Weerts only made his GT racing debut late last year, competing for Team Belgium in the FIA GT Nations Cup, while he finished second in the Italian GT Championship’s three-hour enduro at Misano in May.
He becomes the youngest overall winner in Blancpain GT history, while his and Vanthoor’s combined age is just 39.
Raffaele Marciello led the first stint from pole in his AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 but a slow stop caused by communication issues pushed him and Vincent Abril down the order.
A broken radio meant the French team wasn’t prepared for Marciello’s stop, resulting in the No. 88 Mercedes losing over 30 seconds in the pit lane and dropping outside of the top 20.
Grasser Racing Team looked set to make up time in the pits after a last-minute call from Mirko Bortolotti to dive into the pits as soon as the window opened when the race restarted from its only Full Course Yellow period, called for debris.
A slow stop for the Austrian team, followed by a subsequent drive-through penalty for a FCY infringement at the start of the neutralization, dropped Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart down to 18th, meanwhile.
Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli finished second in the Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo that won Race 1, coming home 2.8 seconds behind Weerts’ Audi.
Caldarelli made his way past Simon Gachet for the runner-up position late in the race when the Sainteloc Racing Audi’s tires dropped off, with Frenchman Gachet losing grip.
He recovered to finish third along with co-driver Christopher Haase, who had started in the same position.
Black Falcon was one team that did make up time during the driver change, moving from tenth to fourth with a quick stop for Maro Engel and Luca Stolz.
Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer claimed Silver Cup honors from sixth, with the AKKA ASP pair coming home ahead of Aaro Vainio and Hugo de Sadeleer’s R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
Rinat Salikhov and David Perel won in Pro-Am, while Florian Scholze and Wolfgang Triller completed their sweep of the weekend in the Am Cup.
Jim Pla had been leading Pro-Am early in the race but was given a drive-through penalty for tapping Markus Winkelhock into a spin early on.
RESULTS: Race 2