After winning the qualifying race yesterday evening, Maxi Buhk and Franck Perera also claimed victory in the main race at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. The HTP Motorsport duo crossed the line with an impressive 23-second lead over Bentley-pairing Vincent Abril-Steven Kane, with Dominik Baumann and Jimmy Eriksson putting a second HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG in the top three.
The win in Silver Cup also went to the HTP-camp, courtesy of Jules Szymkowiak and Fabian Schiller, with the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari of Alexander Matschull and Daniel Keilwitz claiming top spot in the Pro-Am Cup.
During the first main race of the 2017 Blancpain GT Series season, Franck Perera and Maxi Buhk continued their impressive run that started during yesterday’s qualifying race. Perera converted the pole position into the lead, increased his advantage to over seven seconds by the time the pit window opened and reigning Blancpain GT Series champion Maxi Buhk increased that lead to 23.353 seconds at the finish line. Never beforewas a Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup main race won by such a margin.
Behind the #84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG, Michael Meadows held on to second place for the first half of the race, but a problem with one of the wheel nuts at the pitstop dropped the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG down the order. That promoted the #7 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental to second, with Steven Kane taking over from Vincent Abril. The Ulsterman was under severe pressure from Dominik Baumann, at the wheel of the #86 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG. Jimmy Eriksson had already made an impressive comeback at the wheel of the black-and-green car – climbing from 20th on the starting grid to 7th at the pitstop – and once at the wheel, Baumann had gained some more places. The #7 Bentley proved to be too wide and too fast for them to pass, however, and the two cars remained in second and third till the end.
Right behind them AKKA ASP youngsters Dani Juncadella and Felix Serralles put a third Mercedes-AMG in the top four, with Romain Monti and Christopher Haase completing the top-5 at the wheel of the #26 Saintéloc Racing Audi. Theirs became the first of the R8 LMS cars to finish, after reigning Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup champion Enzo Ide spun out during the first half of the race.
Ide and co-driver Mies eventually finished in 11th, just in front of the #85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG of Jules Szymkowiak and Fabian Schiller, winners in Silver Cup. The youngest driver pairing on the grid (21 and 19 years of age respectively) had lost the advantage of their second place in the qualifying race after incurring a time penalty. When Schiller made contact with another car during the opening laps, their hopes of reclaiming a podium finish overall completely vanished. Nevertheless, they still managed to hold on to the win in Silver Cup, with the #42 Strakka Racing McLaren of Nick Leventis and Lewis Williamson taking second, after an impressive debut in the Blancpain GT Series.
The polesitter in the Pro-Am Cup, reigning champion Michael Broniszewski, was unable to defend his chances either, when his car quickly developed a problem. Alexander Matschull, at the wheel of the #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari, took advantage of a hectic few opening laps to establish a healthy lead, and Daniel Keilwitz completed the job. Kessel Racing TP12-duo and Blancpain GT Series-newcomers Carlo Van Dam and Piti Bhirombhakdi took the runners-up spot.
Maxi Buhk (#84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG, 1st): “It’s the best possible start to the season, but this is the point where we have to continue to work hard and keep this advantage for the rest of the season. The car was outstanding for the whole of the weekend, which was confirmed by the sister car that finished in third.”
Steven Kane (#7 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental, 2nd): “After a difficult 2016 it’s great to start the season with two podium finishes, especially on a track that has always been difficult for us. We’ve hit the ground running: we were quick in Bathurst, we were quick here. This holds a lot of promise for the rest of the season.”
Dominik Baumann (#86 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG, 3rd): “I was a bit surprised to find myself in P3. Jimmy did a great job in getting to seventh at the pitstop. I tried to put Steven under pressure, but it was difficult to stay close to the Bentley all the time. Still, I am very happy with this result.”
Jules Szymkowiak (#85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG, 1st Silver Cup): “Our aim is to perform well overall, so we are disappointed with the result. We have the speed, but for the moment we cannot manage to put everything together. The win Silver Cup is a small bonus, but we would have liked to finish higher up.”
Alexander Matschull (#333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari, 1st Pro-Am Cup): “We had a difficult start to the weekend, but today everything went a lot better. I managed to overtake quite a lot of cars and was very happy to hand over the car in a good position. Daniel did a perfect job in bringing the car home.”
Source. SRO Motorsports Group/Photo. Riccardo Righetti R99photography.com