Maxi Buhk and Vincent Abril have taken an important step towards the Blancpain Sprint Series title, winning the Qualifying Race at Zandvoort as Robin Frijns spun in the first corner.
Frijns’ No. 1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi was immediately out of contention as a slight contact with the No. 333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari of Norbert Siedler meant the car spun and got beached in the gravel trap.
The Dutch driver lost a lap and only managed to finish 14th, while the pole sitting No. 84 Bentley Team HTP Continental GT3 led from start to finish and scored the full eight points.
“My start wasn’t good enough and the Bentley was just faster. I knew the Ferrari was on the inside so I left some room, but he still gave me a nudge,” said Frijns.
Buhk and Abril now move into the lead of the championship by just one point, the German-French duo will start tomorrow’s Main Race from pole.
“We had a good start and stayed out of trouble, I tried be as consistent as possible and didn’t push to hard at the beginning to save the tires,” said Buhk.
“I saw Frijns in the gravel trap but in the end that didn’t change my driving. We still have one important day ahead.”
Frijns and teammate Christopher Mies now face a difficult task tomorrow as they will have to fight back from the back of the grid and score more points than the pole sitters.
The Rinaldi Racing Ferrari wasn’t penalized for making contact with the No. 1 Audi, but got handed a drive through later on for a pitstop infringement, dropping Bleekemolen from third to fourth.
The No. 2 WRT Audi of Nicki Thiim and Frédéric Vervisch spent the entire race in second, but didn’t pressure the leading Bentley and finished six seconds adrift.
The last-minute penalty for the Rinaldi Ferrari meant the Phoenix Racing Audi of Markus Winkelhock and Nikki Mayr-Melnhof inherited third.
Stéphane Richelmi and Stéphane Ortelli (No. 3 WRT Audi) rounded out the top-five, in front of the Always Evolving Motorsport Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 of Craig Dolby and Sean Walkinshaw in sixth.
Jules Szymkowiak drove a remarkable second part of the race in the No. 83 Bentley Team HTP Continental GT3, posting some purple sector times and winning the Silver Cup by finishing seventh overall.
RESULTS: Qualifying Race