Weekend round-up: Blancpain GT, GT Open, ADAC GT, European GT4

As the Le Mans 24 Hours closes in, a lot of championships put in one more race weekend before the big race. The Blancpain Sprint Series went to the Belgian circuit of Zolder, while the International GT Open moved to Silverstone. At the Red Bull Ring there were races of the ADAC GT Masters and the European GT4.

Blancpain Sprint Series – Zolder

Laurens Vanthoor and Robin Frijns seem to be unbeatable. The Benelux-drivers of the #1 WRT Audi team have won all four of the races they competed in. The races at Zolder were no different, with both the qualifying race and main race being won by them.

Vanthoor easily maintained his lead at the start of the qualifying race, ahead of the #84 Bentley Team HTP Bentley of Vincent Abril and Maxi Bukh. Bukh was being chased by the #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari during the first part of the race, but Norbert Siedler was unable to pass him. During the pitstops, the Rinaldi Racing mechanics were slightly quicker than the Team HTP crew, handing second place to Marco Seefried. Seefried chased the Team WRT Audi, with Frijns now behind the wheel and an advantage of nine seconds, but found himself 5.5 seconds behind the Dutchman.

Qualifying race: Top 5 overall classification

1 #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS Ultra (R. Frijns/L. Vanthoor)
2 #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia (N. Siedler/M. Seefried)
3 #84 Bentley Team HTP Bentley Continental GT3 (V. Abril/M. Bukh)
4 #6 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra (N. Mayr-Melnhof/M. Winkelhock)
5 #77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil BMW Z4 GT3 (A. Abreu/V. Brito Filho)

At the start of the main race, Frijns and Vanthoor already lost two rivals. The #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari was pushed into the gravel trap and forced to retire, while the #2 Team WRT Audi of Christopher Mies and were penalized for jumping the start. Frijns pulled away to a ten second margin over the second placed #77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil BMW of Atila Abreu and Valdano Brito Filho, who lost their position to Maxi Bukh and Vincent Abril after a slower driver change. In the end, Vanthoor maintained the ten second lead to Bukh, while Abreu and Brito Filho finished in third position.

Main race: Top 5 overall classification

1 #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS Ultra (R. Frijns/L. Vanthoor)
2 #84 Bentley Team HTP Bentley Continental GT3 (V. Abril/M. Bukh)
3 #77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil BMW Z4 GT3 (A. Abreu/V. Brito Filho)
4 #0 BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil BMW Z4 GT3 (C. Bueno/S. Jimenez)
5 #6 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra (N. Mayr-Melnhof/M. Winkelhock)

International GT Open – Silverstone

Ezequiel Perez Companc and Raffaele Giammaria are the first to win two races in the International GT Open championship. After a victory of Álvaro Parente and Miguel Ramos in the #2 Teo Martin Motorsport McLaren 650S in race one, the drivers of #90 AF Corse Ferrari won the second race of the weekend at Silverstone.

Parente converted his pole position into the lead after the start of the race, ahead of Alessandro Balzan in the #3 Scuderia Villorba Corse Ferrari and and Álvaro Barba in the #16 AERT Lamborghini. After twenty minutes of racing, Parente was already six seconds clear of Balzan, but after the pitstops Ramos rejoined thirteen seconds behind Nicola Benucci. The McLaren of Ramos was a lot quicker than Benucci’s Ferrari and in the 32nd lap Ramos passed Benucci to take the first win for Teo Martin Motorsport this season. Benucci and Balzan finished in second, ahead of the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Pasin Lathouras and Michele Rugolo, who won the battle for third.

Round 5 – Top 5 overall classification

1 #2 Teo Martin Motorsport McLaren 650S (M. Ramos/Á. Parente)
2 #3 Scuderia Villorba Corse Ferrari 458 Italia (A. Balzan/N. Benucci)
3 #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia (P. Lathouras/M. Rugolo)
4 #90 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia (E. Perez Companc/R. Giammaria)
5 #22 Balfe Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia (S. Balfe/P. Keen)

The #22 Balfe Motorsport Ferrari of Shaun Balfe and Phil Keen took the lead at the start, ahead of Michele Rugolo’s #51 AF Corse Ferrari and Emiliano López in the #15 Baporo Motorsport Ferrari. Keen and Rugolo fought for the lead during the first stint and after the driver changes, Balfe was still in the lead. He was now followed by Raffaele Giammaria, who was consistently quicker than his rival. In the 24th lap, Giammaria passed Balfe for the second win of the season for the #90 AF Corse Ferrari. Second was taken by Balfe and Keen, while Alessandro Balzan and Nicola Benucci in the #3 Scuderia Villorba Corse Ferrari overtook López’ teammate Matias Russo for third.

Round 6 – Top 5 overall classification

1 #90 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia (E. Perez Companc/R. Giammaria)
2 #22 Balfe Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia (S. Balfe/P. Keen)
3 #3 Scuderia Villorba Corse Ferrari 458 Italia (A. Balzan/N. Benucci)
4 #15 Baporo Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia (E. López/M. Russo)
5 #2 Teo Martin Motorsport McLaren 650S (M. Ramos/Á. Parente)

ADAC GT Masters – Red Bull Ring

The Red Bull Ring seemed to be a nice track for Lamborghini. The #25 Reiter Engineering Gallardo R-EX GT3 of Tomáš Enge and David Russell secured victory in the first race, while the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Huracan GT3 of Adrian Zaugg and Mirko Bortolotti did the same in race two.

MRS GT Racing had the best start of the first race, with the #22 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 taking the lead with Dominic Jöst behind the wheel. He kept the lead until the pitstops. Reiter Engineering performed a better stop and brought Enge out in front of the Nissan. Only ten minutes later, the Nissan faced an electrical failure and had to retire, handing the second position to Daniel Keilwitz in the #66 Callaway Competition Corvette. Keilwitz chased Enge but couldn’t catch him, which gave Russell and Enge the victory. Keilwitz and co-driver Andreas Wirth came in second, in front of the #21 Team Zakspeed Mercedes-Benz of Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig.

Round 3: Top 5 overall classification

1 #25 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX GT3 (T. Enge/D. Russell)
2 #66 Callaway Competition Corvette Z06.R GT3 (D. Keilwitz/A. Wirth)
3 #21 Team Zakspeed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 (S. Asch/L. Ludwig)
4 #69 Callaway Competition Corvette Z06.R GT3 (D. Alessi/P. Assenheimer)
5 #36 Schütz Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (K. Bachler/P. Eng)

Callaway Competition’s Daniel Keilwitz took the lead at the start of the second race, ahead of pole man Tomáš Enge. The Czech also had to let Mirko Bortolotti’s Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini through. Bortolotti put pressure on Keilwitz, and after the driver changes Adrian Zaugg did the same to Andreas Wirth. Five laps before the end of the race, Zaugg passed Wirth for the lead and went on to win the race. Wirth didn’t make it to the finish, because his rear axle had strong vibrations. It handed second position to Enge and David Russell, while local heroes Klaus Bachler and Phillip Eng were promoted to third in their #36 Schütz Motorsport Porsche.

Round 4: Top 5 overall classification

1 #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (A. Zaugg/M. Bortolotti)
2 #25 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX GT3 (D. Russell/T. Enge)
3 #36 Schütz Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (K. Bachler/P. Eng)
4 #21 Team Zakspeed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 (S. Asch/L. Ludwig)
5 #7 Bentley Team HTP Bentley Continental GT3 (L. Stolz/J. Bleekemolen)

European GT4 – Red Bull Ring

Peter Ebner and Sascha Halek in the #15 ZaWotec Motorsport KTM and Jelle Beelen and Marcel Nooren in the #69 V8 Racing Chevrolet took the wins in the two European GT3 races at the Red Bull Ring. Their victories were overshadowed by a huge crash of Jörg Viebahn and Rosen Daskalov.

Everything was fine for Halek and Ebner at the first race. Ebner started the race from pole and held the lead during his stint, as did Halek. Behind the ZaWotec machine, Jörg Viebahn pulled off a great performance. Starting from seventh on the grid, he pushed himself into third at the start and challenged Nooren for second place. During the pitstops, Viebahn overtook the V8 Racing Chevrolet to finish the race in third, while Nooren’s co-driver Beelen brought his car in in third place.

Round 5: Top 5 overall classification

1 #15 ZaWotec Motorsport KTM X-Bow GT4 (S. Halek/P. Ebner)
2 #10 Mathol Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 (J. Viebahn)
3 #69 V8 Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4 (J. Beelen/M. Nooren)
4 #16 ZaWotec Motorsport KTM X-Bow GT4 (D. Uckermann)
5 #96 V8 Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4 (L. Braams/D. Huisman)

Both Sin R1 GT4 machines started race two from the front row. Hendrik Still inherited the lead shortly after the start because teammate José Luis Talermann got a drive-through. Hendruk Still managed to keep the lead until shortly after the driver changes, when Nooren passed Still’s co-driver Rosen Daskalov and went on to win the race. The Ekris Motorsport BMW of Rob Severs and the ZaWotec KTM of Daniel Uckermann also were able to pass Daskalov, and finished in respectively third and second place. The battle for fourth place went completely wrong, as Viebahn and Daskalov touched in the last corner and went into the barriers at full speed. Both were able to get out of their cars without major injuries.

Round 6: Top 5 overall classification

1 #69 V8 Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4 (J. Beelen/M. Nooren)
2 #16 ZaWotec Motorsport KTM X-Bow GT4 (D. Uckermann)
3 #8 Ekris Motorsport BMW M3 GT4 (S. Knap/R. Severs)
4 #10 Mathol Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 (J. Viebahn)
5 #71 Sofia Car Motorsport Sin R1 GT4 (H. Still/R. Daskalov)

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Student journalism but most of all addicted to racing, Bjorn visits Circuit Park Zandvoort and TT Circuit Assen on a regular basis. Also writes for Autosportlive.nl.

Bjorn Smit

Student journalism but most of all addicted to racing, Bjorn visits Circuit Park Zandvoort and TT Circuit Assen on a regular basis. Also writes for Autosportlive.nl.