Thrilling till the end: the second round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at Silverstone once again showed extraordinary GT3 racing action. After three hours and 83 laps of the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, the three best-placed cars were separated by only 3.072 seconds. Earlier on, starting driver Franck Perera had managed to defend the third grid position of the #84 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in an action-packed opening stage before handing over the car to his team-mate Jimmy Eriksson. During the final pit stop, the #84 Mercedes-AMG GT3 lost some time before final driver Maximilian Buhk was able to rejoin the race in third place. Nevertheless, the defending Blancpain GT Series champion managed to overtake the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 for second place with less than 25 minutes remaining, the set-up for a thrilling final dash. In the final minutes of the race, Buhk even managed to close the gap to the race leader and staged an entertaining duel for victory. Only a few hundredths of a second before the scheduled time had elapsed, the leading duo crossed the finish line and therefore had to complete yet another lap, which made the tension rise even higher. Eventually, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with starting number #84 crossed the finish line in second place. Thus, Buhk and Perera and the Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport remain second in the Blancpain GT Series’ standings.
Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Team AKKA ASP also showed an outstanding performance throughout the weekend: in qualifying, the French team managed to claim pole position for the second time in the Blancpain GT Series. With a time of 1m59.072s, the #88 Mercedes-AMG with drivers Daniel Juncadella (ESP), Felix Serralles (PRI) and Tristan Vautier (FRA) posted the fastest qualifying time on Sunday morning. In the race, however, it was the sister car with starting number #90 that still managed to finish on the podium from ninth place. The trio with starting driver Edoardo Mortara (ITA), local hero Michael Meadows (GBR) and final driver Raffaele Marciello (ITA) benefited from a perfect strategy during a full-course yellow and moved up into the lead after the first pit stop. British driver Meadows then managed to defend the lead before Marciello became involved in thrilling position fights for a podium slot. Only 3.072 seconds down, the AKKA ASP team finished third.
In the Pro-AM class, AKKA ASP also secured a third-place finish: Nico Bastian (GER), Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Jules Gounon (both FRA) already drove the #87 Mercedes-AMG GT3 to pole position in their class (fifth overall) in qualifying and went on to show a convincing performance in the race. Eventually, 22nd place overall equalled third place in the Pro-AM class.
In total, the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup again had 13 Mercedes-AMG GT3 on the grid: AKKA ASP and HTP Motorsport ran four cars each, BLACK FALCON three and ZAKSPEED competed with two cars from Affalterbach. The next Blancpain GT Series event is the sprint round at Zolder (Belgium), 2-4 June.
Maximilian Buhk, #84 Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport: “In the final stages, I was able to close the gap to the Lamborghini and even mount a challenge to overtake. However, I didn’t want to take too many risks and perhaps lose everything. Second place was very important for the overall standings and it is also a great result for the entire weekend here at Silverstone.”
Edoardo Mortara, #90 AKKA ASP: “We had a rather difficult start into the race. After the pit stop, however, we even managed to take the lead after a decision at short notice to make a pit stop during a full-course yellow. We were competitive throughout the weekend and we are happy with third place. This is something we can build on in the next races.”
Nico Bastian, #87 AKKA ASP: “I am really happy, the entire team and the Mercedes-AMG GT3 have shown a great performance over the weekend. Jules’s qualifying with pole in our class and fifth place on the overall grid was a good basis. During my stint, I tried to make up some more positions, but I didn’t want to take too many risks as we had a podium finish in sight.”
Source. Mercedes/Photo. John Patterson