In excellent weather conditions, the five Mercedes-AMG GT3s started into the two Blancpain GT World Challenge qualifying heats. Here, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with starting number 4, run by the BLACK FALCON team, secured itself excellent grid positions for the two sprint races of 60 minutes each. Luca Stolz claimed second place on the grid for the opening race on Saturday. His teammate Maro Engel secured fourth place on the grid for the second race on Sunday. The points’ leading duo in the Silver Cup, Nico Bastian (GER) and Thomas Neubauer (FRA) put their #89 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 in eighth position on the grid for the first race, but had to start the second race from 22nd place.
In the first race, Luca Stolz held on to his second position and battled for the lead throughout his stint with the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3. The decisive moment occurred during the mandatory pit stop: as the entire front-running group came into their respective pit slots at the same time, Maro Engel, who had taken over from Luca Stolz, slightly tangled with another car upon leaving. Subsequently, race control ordered Engel back into the pit lane for a drive-through penalty. As a result of the penalty, the #4 BLACK FALCON entry initially dropped back from second to 13th place. With fast lap times, Maro Engel worked his way up again and eventually crossed the finish line in eighth place. There was also a lot of bad luck for the #89 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3. Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer were second in the Silver Cup classification in the top ten overall, until a puncture just before the end of the race forced the car back into the pits and made the duo drop to the back of the field. The number 88 sister car made up some positions from 13th on the grid and finished ninth. The #90 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS) and Fabian Schiller (GER) secured second place in the Silver Cup as it rounded out the top ten overall in tenth position.
In the second race on Sunday, Maro Engel already made up a position in the first corner and was up in third place going into the Mercedes Arena. In his stint, Engel was in contention for the lead within the front-running group. After the pit stop, the BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3 returned onto the track right behind its rivals in the battle for the championship. Until the finish, Luca Stolz was right behind his opponent, but didn’t find an opportunity to mount the decisive challenge and was fourth across the line.
Like in the first race, Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS) and Fabian Schiller (GER) concluded the race in tenth place overall and second in the Silver Cup classification after a strong performance. With their #89 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3, Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer were unable to make decisive progress and eventually had to make do with seventh place in the Silver Cup. Jim Pla and Mauro Ricci (both FRA) of the AKKA ASP Team secured a class podium finish with third place in the Pro-Am classification in the second race of the weekend.
Raffaele Marciello again was struck by bad luck in the Eifel. Having finished ninth in the first race, he already had to park his #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the pits after innocently having become involved in an accident.
In the championship standings, Maro Engel and Luca Stolz may have lost their points’ lead for the time being, but they are still able to decide the championship in their favour by themselves in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe season finale at the Hungaroring, 6-8 September.
Two championship titles in the GT4 European Series In the GT4 European Series season finale, Leipert Motorsport secured the title in the teams’ classification as well as the drivers’ title in the Pro-Am class. With a pair of class podium finishes, Marcus Paverud (NOR) and Luca Trefz (GER) sealed the championship crown in their class. Jan Kisiel (POL) and Max Koebolt (NED) were fighting for the Silver Cup title against the other championship contenders until the final lap and ended up tied in the points, but behind their competitors based on individual race results. Third place in the Pro-Am class by Schwede Motorsport with its driver Jan Rehnig and Dominik Schraml (both GER) and third place in the AM classification for Jean-Luc Behets and Johan Vannerum (both BEL, Selleslagh Racing Team) rounded out the good season result.
Maro Engel, BLACK FALCON #4: “Unfortunately not the races as we had expected. We had secured ourselves very good grid positions. The car was running very well in the race, too. Unfortunately, a few unfortunate situations came together that eventually blew our chances of a good race result. Yesterday the drive-through penalty and today, the stop wasn’t excellent either. Nevertheless, many thanks to the team that has done a great job again. Now, we are the hunters. At Budapest next week, we will be attacking all-out again and try everything to bring the championship to Affalterbach.”
Vincent Abril, AKKA ASP Team #88: “It was obvious that it wasn’t an optimal weekend for us. We were struggling to find the pace, so we were rather in the midfield and got involved in many duels. Then, unfortunately, things like in the second race happen, too bad. We still expected to have slight chances for a good result in the championship. Now, these are gone, of course. But we have nothing more to lose and are highly motivated going to Budapest. There, we want to do our utmost.”
Nico Bastian, AKKA ASP Team #89: “Unfortunately, a weekend to forget. We didn’t have the necessary pace and had a lot of bad luck as well. Firstly, the puncture in the first race, then an incident during the pit stop in race two that cost a lot of time. As a result, we have lost many points and the Silver Cup lead. Now, we can’t afford to make any mistakes in Budapest and have to do our utmost to turn the table around to still secure the Silver Cup title.”
Fabian Schiller, AKKA ASP Team #90: “A pair of second places in the Silver Cup is a good result. We were able to make up valuable points to the leaders. Nevertheless, we didn’t have the right pace and the right set-up this weekend. In the second race, we were in eighth place until the final lap. Then, a car that came out of the pits almost collected me. That made us drop back another two places. Unfortunately, I can’t be there for the finale, Felipe Fraga will be stepping in for me.”
Luca Trefz, Leipert Motorsport #2: “A great feeling. Marcus has done a good job at the start and I am very happy with our championship title. The car has been perfect all year long. Many thanks to my team Leipert Motorsport and to Marcus.”
Marcus Paverud, Leipert Motorsport #2: “I reckon that we were one of the few cars to have finished all the races. The points’ standings reflected this in the end. Now, we are champions. Simply great.”