#63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan-duo Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart completed a perfect Brands Hatch weekend with a clear win in an eventful main race of the third round of the 2017 Blancpain GT Series. The Lamborghini drivers led from start to finish, eventually finishing ahead of the #17 Team WRT and #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audis. With Franck Perera and Maxi Buhk finishing sixth, Bortolotti and Engelhart are now the new leaders in the Blancpain GT Series driver standings.
Lewis Williamson and David Fumanelli claimed the Silver Cup win, at the wheel of the #42 Strakka Motorsport McLaren, with Daniel Keilwitz and Alexander Mattschull again pocketing full points in the Pro-Am Cup with their #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari.
Just like in the qualifying race on Sunday morning, Christian Engelhart and Mirko Bortolotti dominated the main race at Brands Hatch, during the third round of the 2017 Blancpain GT Series. In front of 11.000 spectators, the bright green #63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini crossed the line with almost twenty seconds in hand. After taking the win in the TM Performance 3 Hours of Monza two weeks ago, when they shared the car with Andrea Caldarelli, Bortolotti and Engelhart again proved to be unbeatable. For Engelhart, who made his debut in the 2016 endurance race at the Nürburgring, this means he has won three of the four Blancpain GT Series rounds in which he has taken part.
After a perfect Brands Hatch weekend, the Italian-German duo adds 34 points to their tally, which means they travel to Silverstone with a five-point lead in the Blancpain GT Series driver standings. Previous leaders Franck Perera and Maxi Buhk finished in sixth in Brands Hatch, enough for the #84 Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport-duo to hang on to second in the driver standings.
During the first half of the race, Grasser Racing Team looked set for a one-two, but at the pitstop cruel luck hit the #19 Lamborghini: a broken driveshaft prevented Norbert Siedler from going any further. With the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG and the #99 ROWE Racing BMW making contact in the pitlane and the #98 ROWE Racing BMW gradually losing ground, two Audis appeared in second and third after the pitstop. During a couple of laps, Will Stevens (#2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8) and Robin Frijns (#17 Team WRT Audi) fought over second place, but with fresher tyres the Dutchman managed to overtake the Brit, claiming second, together with co-driver Stuart Leonard.
From the pitbox Markus Winkelhock saw how co-driver Will Stevens held on to third, although he was put under pressure by Fabian Schiller in the #85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG. Schiller, sharing the car with Jules Szymkowiak, had started the Qualifying Race from dead last. After gaining 27 positions over the two races, Schiller and Szymkowiak crossed the line in fourth. But because of a contact with the #75 ISR Audi at the beginning of the race the duo was given a 30-second penalty after the race, which not only saw them drop to 17th overall, but handed the Silver Cup win to #42 Strakka Motorsport McLaren pairing David Fumanelli and Lewis Williamson. Thanks to the fact that the latter claimed the Silver Cup pole positions in both Misano and Brands Hatch, Williamson now leads the Silver Cup standings by two points over Schiller and Szymkowiak.
In the Pro-Am Cup #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari duo Daniel Keilwitz and Alexander Mattschull again claimed full points. The latter made his Brands Hatch debut and although he had a rough opening stint of the race, he managed to hold on to the lead. Keilwitz finished the job, crossing the line with a ten-second advantage over the #39 Kessel Racing TP12 Ferrari of Piti Bhirombhakdi and Carlo Van Dam. In turn, they held off the #87 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG of Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Jules Gounon, who had started Sunday morning’s Qualifying Race from pole position.
The next round of the 2017 Blancpain GT Series takes place next weekend, with the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit hosting the second race of this year’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
Christian Engelhart (#63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini, winner): “I don’t know what to say. The team has given us a perfect car, all weekend long. I am very fortunate that I can drive for them in these circumstances, with such a great co-driver as Mirko. It was a good thing that teammate Ezequiel Perez-Companc in the #19 car allowed me to create a gap in the opening half of the race. After that we could control the race until the finish.”
Robin Frijns (#17 Team WRT Audi, second): “I had no idea in which position I was when I left the pitlane. I thought I was in P6 or P7. But then I heard I was fighting for second with Will, which was not an easy situation. You do not want to take many risks and put a double podium finish for the team in peril. But in the end everything worked out fine.”
Will Stevens (#2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8): “After starting in P20 for the Qualifying Race we never thought we could finish on the podium. We slightly altered the set-up of the car, to positive effect. Due to the fact that we used all sets of new tyres during the Qualifying Race, I had none left for my final stint, which made it difficult to defend my position against Robin. But this podium finish really means a lot to us, especially after the difficult start of the season.”
Alexander Mattschull (#333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari): “The opening lap of the main race was pretty scary, especially since I had to take the start on used tyres. I had used all my new sets earlier in the weekend, to get to grips with this circuit. But after a few laps I managed to settle into a good rhythm, and Daniel finished the job after the pitstop.”
Source. SRO Motorsports Group/Photo. John Patterson