Dries Vanthoor controlled a late safety car restart to take his and Charles Weerts’ second win of GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup’s Misano triple-header.
After producing an attacking display to grab victory in Race 1 on Saturday, Vanthoor needed to produce a defensive drive in the final three minutes of Sunday afternoon’s one-hour contest to secure Team WRT’s second victory of the weekend.
The Belgian’s five-second advantage over fellow Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo pilot Christopher Haase was eradicated by the late safety car, which came after Nelson Panciatici’s Bentley Continental GT3 collided with the Silver Cup-leading Lexus of Aurelien Panis.
Vanthoor controlled the pace at the restart to lead the final handful of laps and win by 0.712 seconds from Haase, while Mattia Drudi finished third to complete an Audi 1-2-3.
Luca Stolz and Maro Engel were fourth in their Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, while Kelvin van der Linde and Ryuichiro Tomita finished fifth for WRT.
Race 2 winners Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy ended up sixth for AKKA-ASP, beating the two Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos.
The winning WRT Audi of Vanthoor and Weerts started from row two of the grid, while Tech 1 Racing’s Lexus RC F GT3 led away from pole in the hands of Thomas Neubauer.
Neubauer dictated the opening stanza from Tommaso Mosca in the Attempto Racing Audi that would later be driven by Drudi, while Weerts took Haase’s co-driver Arthur Rougier for third into Turn 1.
This was the top four heading into the driver swaps, but a slow stop dropped the Lexus to sixth while Vanthoor was elevated to the lead following a quick WRT service.
Sainteloc Racing also conducted a fast turnaround to get Haase out ahead of Drudi, while the HRT Mercedes had risen to fourth after spending the first stint outside the top five.
Vanthoor stayed ahead of Haase and Drudi to the checkered flag, earning a second victory of the weekend for himself and Weerts who also won at Misano last year.
Their teammates Van der Linde and Tomita gained two places during the pit stops, rising from ninth to seventh, while van der Linde overtook Panis shortly after taking over.
The South African then made another position on Panciatici’s Bentley with 13 minutes to go with a well-timed lunge down the inside at the Quercia left-hander, although Panciatici refused to give up the place heading into the next right.
However, the Frenchman lost control of the Bentley as it suddenly flicked to the left, striking the Tech 1 Lexus of Panis which was trying to capitalize on the battle in front.
That collision brought out the late safety car and ultimately enabled CMR’s other Bentley to win the Silver Cup class.
Pierre-Alexandre Jean and Hugo Chevalier finished ahead of the Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes of Ezequiel Companc and Axcil Jefferies, which got past the No. 33 WRT Audi after the restart.
Victory in the Pro-Am class went to Sky Tempesta Racing’s Chris Froggatt and Eddie Cheever III who also triumphed Race 1 and finished second in Race 2 on Sunday morning.
Froggatt led the opening stint in his Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 while Cheever successfully resisted the threat of a challenge from Dominik Baumann in the SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes started by Valentin Pierburg.
Andrea Bertolini and Louis Machiels completed the top three in their AF Corse Ferrari.
Update: Madpanda Inherits Silver Cup Win
Madpanda Motorsport scored its maiden GTWC Europe class win after a penalty for the No. 108 CMR Bentley promoted Ezequiel Companc and Axcil Jefferies to the top spot.
Bentley driver Pierre-Alexandre Jean was deemed to be at fault in a clash between his car and Hamza and Jusuf Owega’s WRT Audi which was sent through the Turn 13 gravel.
Alexandre-Jean’s co-driver Hugo Chevalier went on to cross the line ahead of Companc and Owega, only for a 30-second time penalty to be applied after the checkered flag.
This handed Madpanda’s Mercedes crew the victory on its debut GTWC Europe Sprint Cup weekend, while the Owega brothers inherited second and Sainteloc Racing’s Steven Palette and Simon Gachet moved up to third ahead of the CMR Bentley.
Additionally, the No. 66 Attempto Racing Audi of Frederic Vervisch and Nicolas Schoell which finished tenth on the road had 40 seconds added to its race time for having its engine running whilst propped on its pit jacks. The car ended up 16th in the order.
RESULTS: Misano Race 3 (final)