After an action-packed season finale, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport is celebrating a successful end of the season at Barcelona: Maro Engel, Luca Stolz (both GER) and BLACK FALCON secure runner-up positions in the Blancpain GT Series drivers’ and teams’ standings while AKKA ASP, another team with the Mercedes-AMG GT3, claims third place in the teams’ standings. Prior to the finale, AKKA ASP was already in a position to prepare the grand celebration of the Silver Cup triple as it was beyond reach: the French team wins the overall, the sprint and the endurance titles in the Silver Cup drivers’ and teams’ standings while triple champion Nico Bastian (GER) accomplishes the same feat. Together with his teammates Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS) and Felipe Fraga (BRA), he also scored the Silver Cup race win at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya ahead of fellow Mercedes-AMG team BLACK FALCON with Patrick Assenheimer (GER), David Fumanelli (ITA) and Hubert Haupt (GER) who completed the 1-2 in class. As a result, Assenheimer and Haupt also ended up as runners-up in the Silver Cup Endurance Cup standings, as did RAM Racing drivers Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR) and Remon Vos (NED) in the Pro-AM class. Jim Pla (FRA) and AKKA ASP become runners-up in the overall Blancpain GT Series Pro-Am standings (drivers and teams).
Even though the Silver Cup titles had already been wrapped up prior to the finale, there were still some thrilling championship duels for the overall classification and the Endurance Cup in the final race of the season at Barcelona. A turbulent start made all the plans by the teams and drivers obsolete at an early stage already as the safety car was deployed following an accident on the opening lap. Prior to that, starting driver Maro Engel had managed to take the lead from second place on the grid and subsequently had to complete his laps behind the safety car for 45 laps, just like the rest of the field. After the restart, Engel quickly built up a margin and handed the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 to Luca Stolz while in the lead after 29 laps.
Another safety car intervention bunched up the field again and the car with starting number 4 lost the lead during the subsequent restart. Meanwhile, the #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP with starting driver Vincent Abril and Raffaele Marciello was making up one position after another and worked its way up to third place behind their Mercedes-AMG colleagues. Later on, several further neutralisations again interrupted the race and a double podium finish was within reach for the two Mercedes-AMG GT3s. In the final minutes of the race, however, both cars were unfortunate: final driver Yelmer Buurman with starting number 4 and Michael Meadows with starting number 88 both dropped back considerably from second and third place respectively due to race incidents. As a result, the battle for the overall championship was over, but runner-up spot (drivers’ and teams’ standings, BLACK FALCON) and third place (teams’ standings, AKKA ASP) in the Blancpain GT Series had been secured.
In the Silver Cup, the battles for the Sprint and Endurance Cup classifications had already been decided in favour of the AKKA ASP Team and its drivers and the drivers’ title in the overall Sprint Cup standings was merely a formality: the trio of Nico Bastian, Timur Boguslavskiy and Felipe Fraga started the final race of the season beyond reach in first, second and third place of the standings. As a result, Nico Bastian just had to take the start of the race to secure the triple in the drivers’ standings as well. As crowning glory for the season finale at Barcelona, the trio with starting number 90 scored another class win after an impressive comeback as well as fifth place overall as the best-placed Mercedes-AMG GT3. The BLACK FALCON entry with starting number 6 was another Silver Cup team to score a top ten result overall. With seventh place overall, Patrick Assenheimer, David Fumanelli and Hubert Haupt completed the 1-2 in the Silver Cup. At the same time, Assenheimer and Haupt secured runner-up spot in the Silver Cup Endurance Cup standings. RAM Racing with Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR) and Remon Vos (NED) as well as Jim Pla (FRA) of the AKKA ASP Team, who were still in contention for the overall and Endurance Cup titles in the Pro-Am class, meanwhile, had bad luck: both teams had to park their cars early, but still secured the respective runner-up spots. Jim Pla and AKKA ASP concluded the Blancpain GT Series season in second place of the Pro-Am class drivers’ and teams’ standings and Tom Onslow-Cole and Remon Vos ended up second in the Pro-AM Endurance standings.
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “First of all congratulations to the overall Blancpain GT Series winners of the Orange 1 FFF Racing Team. Of course, at the moment, disappointment for the fact that it isn’t us celebrating the title at the end prevails. Nevertheless, I am proud that we were in contention for the titles in all the classes and the overall classification until the final race and partly even until the final minutes, and that we were very successful with runner-up spot and the Silver Cup triple. Therefore, I express my thanks and my congratulations to all our Customer Racing teams and drivers for a very successful season. We are already looking forward to seeing our teams here for the Customer Racing end-of-season celebration that will be taking place in Barcelona for the first time this year.”
Nico Bastian, AKKA ASP Team #90: “After the double title win last year now the triple, I think that this has never been done in this championship before. Of course, I am very proud of that. A really big thank you to the entire AKKA ASP Team and my teammates. Now, I have won everything in the Silver Cup and my next goal would obviously be to become a contender for the overall championship as well. But now, I will first savour this success.”
Felipe Fraga, AKKA ASP Team #90: “We were leading our class for a long time, but then dropped back. During my stint, there were many accidents and it was difficult to make it through without damage while still making up positions. Nevertheless, that worked out really well, we had a very fast and reliable car today. Still claiming the class win in the season finale after this difficult recovery is great, of course!”