The No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes of Maxi Götz and Maxi Buhk has taken a commanding Blancpain Sprint Series Main Race victory at Portimao, extending Götz’s points lead on the Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Hari Proczyk, which finished third today.
While pole-sitter Proczyk had a good getaway at the start, it didn’t take long for Götz to put the Austrian under pressure and eventually outbrake him into Turn 5.
Moments after the lead change the Safety Car came out following a collision between the Fortec Mercedes of Armaan Ebrahim and the No. 4 WRT Audi of Vincent Abril.
On fresher tires, Götz then went on to build a lead of more than 10 seconds before handing over the car to Buhk, who managed the gap to take a commanding win. The result extended Götz’s championship lead from 16 to 26 points.
With Bleekemolen not being able to bring the No. 28 GRT Lamborghini any closer to the leading Mercedes in the second part of the race, it looked like the Dutchman was heading to P2.
However, third-placed Laurens Vanthoor was putting in faster lap times in the No. 1 WRT Audi than both leaders, rapidly closing the gap and eventually overtook Bleekemolen with a controversial maneuver on the penultimate lap.
The Belgian clearly didn’t respect track limits at the exit of the corner leading up to pass. The incident was investigated after the race and the stewards handed Vanthoor a drive through penalty, that was converted into a 30-second time penalty. As a result the No. 1 Audi dropped from second to eighth in the overall results.
“I lost downforce and had a bit of oversteer, so I went a bit off throttle but still ran wide,” said Vanthoor. “I didn’t gain anything with it, I would have still overtaken him there, even if I hadn’t arrived with that speed.”
“I hate racing at these tracks because it’s all about track limits,” said an agitated Bleekemolen after the race. “They gave warnings all weekend and then when it really matters Laurens (Vanthoor) ran wide twice, even I could see it from the car so I think the race director saw it as well.
“It’s not a fair way to overtake, I was always clean, every single lap.”
Vanthoor’s comeback wasn’t straightforward, as his teammate Cesar Ramos fell back to P8 following an early coming together with the sister No. 2 Audi of Enzo Ide.
Stephane Ortelli and Fabien Hamprecht delivered an impressive performance by racing their No. 9 WRT Audi from 17th on the grid to fourth at the finish, keeping the Reiter-run G-Drive Racing Lamborghini of Tomas Enge and Roman Rusinov narrowly behind them.
After falling back to P16 following the incident with its sister car, René Rast was still able to bring his No. 2 WRT Audi back to sixth, overtaking both Phoenix Racing R8 in the final stages of the race.
All five cars gained a position following the penalty for the No. 1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra after the finish.
Running as high as fifth after the pitstops, Alex Zanardi drove a solid race before losing a couple of places to finish ninth.
Both Bhaitech McLarens showed some real pace this weekend, though only managed to grab one point with Fabio Onidi and Giorgio Pantano bringing their car home in tenth today.
RESULTS: Main Race (Updated)