Maxi Buhk and Franck Perera dominated the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Main Race at Misano, finishing 23 seconds ahead of Steven Kane in the No. 7 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3, the largest margin of victory in series history.
The pole-sitting No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 kept the lead at the start, as Perera went on to build a gap of more than 7 seconds on Michael Meadows in the No. 90 AKKA ASP Mercedes.
While Meadows had to visit the pit lane twice with a loose wheel-nut, Buhk emerged with a 23-second lead on Kane after the pit window closed.
The reigning overall champion just had to consolidate that gap in the second part of the race, while Kane, Dominik Baumann, Daniel Juncadella and Christopher Haase were bunched up in the battle for the remaining podium positions.
“The start was good, but it was not so easy with the Bentley trying to pass me,” said Perera. “I tried to be really consistent and to build a good gap.”
Kane was able to hang on to second with his Bentley, but was put under pressure by Baumann’s No. 86 HTP Mercedes during his entire stint.
“We could see it was a bit of a Mercedes battle at the front,” said teammate Vincent Abril. “We had hoped to score some points this weekend, but we go home with two podium positions.”
“The Bentley works really well with the new Pirelli tires,” added Kane. “We have a lot of traction and the car is good on the brakes, that was the key to defending second place.”
Jimmy Eriksson started the No. 86 HTP Mercedes 20th on the grid, but managed to climb up to sixth before handing over to Baumann.
The Austrian went on to overtake Juncadella in the No. 88 AKKA ASP Mercedes and Christopher Haase in the Sainteloc Audi R8 LMS to claim the final podium position.
While struggling for pace for most of the weekend, the ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3s stayed out of trouble in both races and moved up to sixth (No. 99) and seventh (No. 98).
Andrew Watson and Rob Bell were the authors of another strong comeback, as the British duo gained ten places and ended up in P8 with their No. 59 Strakka Racing McLaren 650S GT3.
Mirko Bortolotti managed to salvage two points for Grasser Racing by crossing the line in ninth, the No. 63 Lamborghini was tapped into a spin by Fabian Schiller at the beginning of the race.
Despite a drive-through penalty for the incident mentioned above, Schiller and Jules Szymkowiak still took the Silver Cup honors in the No. 85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes, finishing 12th overall.
The Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Daniel Keilwitz and Alexander Matschull came in 14th, which proved to be enough to win the Pro-Am Cup.
Reigning Sprint Cup champion Enzo Ide was battling for a spot in the top-five when he spun the No. 1 WRT Audi and dropped out of the points.
RESULTS: Main Race