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WRT Audi Wins Qualifying Race in Baku

René Rast and Niki Mayr-Melnhof convert pole into Qualifying Race win…

Photo: Vincent Wouters

Photo: Vincent Wouters

René Rast and Niki Mayr-Melnhof have won the Qualifying Race for the final race weekend of the FIA GT Series, held in the capital of Azerbaijan.

As was the case yesterday the schedule started of with a delay as local workers decided to clean the track with water out of the Caspian Sea, resulting in a very slippery track that wouldn’t dry out due to very low temperatures. At the start of the race, a dry line started to emerge meaning that slicks were the preferred tire choice.

The German Austrian duo started from pole position and always had control over the race when the safety car came in after the first three laps. The No. 12 Team WRT Audi was able to convert its pole position into the lead building up a considerable gap to sister Audi of Laurens Vanthoor, who had the Boutsen Ginion McLaren of Stef Dusseldorp and Marc VDS BMW of Maxime Martin in his mirrors.

Rast handed over his car to Mayr-Melnhof in the lead but the latter soon saw his advantage diminish as a safety car bunched up the field at the halfway mark. At the restart, the Austrian managed to pull away from the No. 11 Audi that was now in the hands of Stéphane Ortelli.

It didn’t take long for another incident to happen as the Novadriver Audi of Cesar Campancio became stranded in the very narrow second chicane.

As the track was blocked, organizers immediately decided to show the red flag with 15 minutes and 9 seconds still on the clock the race had to be restarted as the 75 percent mark wasn’t reached yet.

After the interruption, Mayr-Melnhof once again opened up a gap to his teammate Ortelli, which proved to be enough at the finish line.

Ortelli however came under attack from Rob Bell in the Hexis McLaren but the British factory driver wasn’t able though to pass him and had to settle for third. only half a second in front of the Boutsen Ginion McLaren of Dusseldorp and Alexander Sims.

Title contenders Edward Sandström and Frank Stippler only managed seventh and didn’t score any points, meaning that they now have to make up more than 7 points on their teammates Vanthoor-Ortelli in the final Main Race of the season.

The HTP Gravity Charouz Mercedes SLS of Andreas Simonsen and Sergey Afanasiev secured the Pro-Am title by winning the class and coming in sixth overall, while title rival Hari Proczyk crashed his GRT Grasser Racing Lamborghini mid-race.

RESULTS: Qualifying Race

Vincent Wouters (@VinceWouters) is a Belgium-based sports car racing reporter, providing coverage primarily of the Blancpain GT Series.

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