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Grasser Takes Lights-to-Flag Qualifying Race Win at Brands Hatch

Bortolotti, Engelhart win Brands Hatch Qualifying Race…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart took a lights-to-flag victory in the Qualifying Race for the Brands Hatch round of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, surviving a late-race restart.

The No. 63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 led the field from pole, with Bortolotti increasing his lead throughout his opening stint until handing the car over to Grasser Racing Team co-driver Engelhart.

The German driver remained out front despite a restart with ten minutes to go, after the safety car was brought out to clear debris from an incident. 

Andy Soucek had collided with Christophe Bourret’s AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the end of the pit straight, sending the Frenchman into the barrier.

Soucek’s Bentley Continental GT3 survived but was given a 40-second time penalty as a result of the incident.

Several drivers were forced to take wide lines to avoid the stricken Mercedes, with Marcel Faessler most notably going into the gravel on the outside of Turn 1 and narrowly missing the barriers.

Engelhart crossed the line with a 3.7-second lead over Markus Palttala’s No. 98 ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3, which ran second for the entire race.

“I’m really happy with the restart and how it went in the end, but you always feel a bit pressured when the safety car is there,” said Engelhart.

“It’s only the Qualifying Race, and the main race is this afternoon, where the big points are awarded. We’ve been working really hard all weekend to have a good car and we hope to do the same again this afternoon.” 

Jesse Krohn started the race in the BMW from third and soon overtook Christopher Mies’ Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS on the run down to the first corner.

Mies and Sainteloc driver Haase had contact at the first corner, sending Haase into a spin down Paddock Hill Bend.

Contact between the pair will be investigated after the race.

Mies picked up a puncture on the third lap, dropping he and defending Sprint Cup champion Enzo Ide to 30th. 

Ezequiel Perez Companc and Norbert Siedler completed the podium, putting two Grasser Lamborghinis into the top three finishing positions. 

Daniel Juncadella Felix Serralles came third for AKKA ASP, with Phillipp Eng and Antonio Felix da Costa bringing the No. 99 BMW up to fifth from 11th on the grid.

Maximilian Buhk made up four positions in the pit lane to come out fifth but picked up a puncture in the closing laps, dropping the No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG to 23rd.

The only retirement was the No. 67 Attempto Racing Lamborghini which went off track in the Grand Prix Loop on the opening lap with Nicolas Pohler at the wheel.

The Main Race is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. BST, with Bortolotti and Engelhart again starting from pole.

RESULTS: Qualifying Race

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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