Laurens Vanthoor has become the first ever Blancpain GT Series champion, as he and Cesar Ramos scored their first Blancpain Sprint Series Main Race victory in Baku.
Ramos converted the pole position into the lead at the start of the race, keeping the Beechdean Aston Martin Vantage of Jonny Adam behind him during his entire stint.
A perfect pitstop of the WRT pit crew gave Laurens Vanthoor a seven second margin on the Aston Martin after the pit window, a gap which Andy Soucek managed to close down to 2.225s at the finish.
The win also secured both the Blancpain GT and Sprint teams’ title for the Belgian Audi Team WRT, with HTP Motorspot finishing runner up in both championships.
Vanthoor’s main rival for the overall Blancpain GT title, Maxi Buhk saw his teammate and newly crowned Sprint champ Maxi Götz being pushed in the wall by the charging No. 2 WRT Audi of René Rast at the exit of the first hairpin.
Both Götz and Rast had to retire their cars after 15 minutes, depriving Buhk of the chance to battle for the combined sprint and endurance title.
The No. 28 Grasser Racing Lamborghini of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Hari Proczyk that pushed Götz for the title the entire season, was one of the many retirements of the race as the Lamborghini once again sustained damage as a consequence of riding the curbs.
The final podium spot went to the No. 6 Phoenix Racing of Niki Mayr-Melnhof and Winkelhock, as the latter overtook Qualifying Race pole sitter Stéphane Ortelli 10 minutes from the end.
Marco Holzer and Martin Ragginger drove their Schütz Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3-R to P5, while the Trackspeed Porsche of Richard Westbrook and Norbert Siedler had to retire in a similar fashion to last year, as contact with another car damaged the radiator.
“Unfortunately there was the accident between Rast and Götz, which in the end helped us a bit with the championship and myself with the championship overall,” said Vanthoor after the race.
“For sure there was a bit of pressure, as I still had to finish in the top five. Obviously we wanted to win for me, for Cesar and the team and the check. This year we had five victories, unfortunately four were in the Qualifying Race. We made some mistakes this year, weren’t always lucky but ended it in style.”
“The car has been very good this weekend. Our job was to showcase how good the Aston is in this championship,” said second place finisher Jonny Adam. “The pace was good and the Audi and myself managed to pull a good gap. We’ve done well this weekend.”