A busy endurance weekend at the European circuits. The Blancpain Endurance Series season started at Monza, while the World Endurance Championship had their kick off at Silverstone. The qualifying race for the Nürburgring 24 hours took place at the same time.
Blancpain Endurance Series – Monza
For a minute, fairy tales existed during the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Monza. The #19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán took victory in its first race, but was disqualified because the refueling restrictor wasn’t conform the regulations. The team has appealed the decision, which means that Andrew Palmer, Fabio Babini and Jeroen Mul are the provisional winners.
The car of Palmer, Babini and Mul led most of the three hour race, but they did not start from pole position. That was taken by the #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia of Norbert Siedler and Rinat Salikhov. The duo finished second and won the Pro-Am class. The #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS Ultra of Laurens Vanthoor, Robin Frijns and Jean-Karl Vernay secured third spot on the podium, after climbing from fifth to third in the last thirty minutes. Just some minutes before, the #54 Attempto Racing McLaren 650 S GT3 of Yoshiharu Mori, Ronnie Valori and Alessandro Balzan had a terrifying accident: before turning into the Parabolica, the McLaren lost control under braking and smashed into the barrier and bounced back on track, where it hit the #84 Bentley Team HTP Bentley Continental GT3 of Harold Primat, Vincent Abril and Mike Parisy. The race was over for both of the cars.
Top 5 classification
1 #19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan (A. Palmer/F. Babini/J. Mul)
2 #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia (N. Siedler/R. Salikhov)
3 #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS Ultra (J.K. Vernay/R. Frijns/L. Vanthoor)
4 #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia (D. Cameron/M. Griffin)
5 #7 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 (G. Smith/A. Meyrick/S. Kane)
World Endurance Championship – Silverstone 6 hours
After six hours of racing, the difference between victory and second place was only 4.6 seconds. The #7 Audi Sport R18 e-tron quattro of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer took victory in the first race of World Endurance Championship at the track of Silverstone. Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani came in second in the #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid, ahead of the #1 Toyota TS 040 Hybrid of Kazuki Nakajima, Sébastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson.
For the first eighty minutes of the race, the #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley was in the lead. Unfortunately, the drive train broke down so Webber had to retire the car. It handed the lead to the #18 Porsche and later the #1 Toyota, ahead of the #2 Toyota. In lap 96, Lotterer in the #7 Audi overtook the #1 Toyota, driven by Davidson, and built a gap of 72 seconds. Meanwhile, Neel Jani was in second place, driving the #18 Porsche. With fifteen minutes left, Lotterer was awarded a stop-and-go penalty for abusing the track limits. The gap dropped to eight seconds when he returned on track. Jani pushed hard to catch the German, but at the finish he was 4.6 seconds behind. Only ten seconds behind Jani came the #1 Toyota.
In LMP2, the G-Drive team took first and second place with their Ligier JS P2-Nissans. The #26 took victory with Roman Rusinov, Sam Bird and Julien Canal behind the wheel, ahead of the #28 of Gustavo Yacamán, Pipo Derani and Ricardo González. Class wins in LMGTE were taken by the #51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia of Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander in Pro and the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda in Am.
Top 5 classification
1 #7 Audi Sport R18 e-tron quattro (B. Tréluyer/M. Fässler/A. Lotterer)
2 #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid (M. Lieb/N. Jani/R. Dumas)
3 #1 Toyota TS 040 – Hybrid (A. Davidson/S. Buemi/K. Nakajima)
4 #2 Toyota TS 040 – Hybrid (A. Wurz/S. Sarrazin/M. Conway)
5 #8 Audi Sport R18 e-tron quattro (L. di Grassi/L. Duval/O. Jarvis)
Nürburgring 24 hours – Qualifying race
The qualifying race for the 24 hours of the Nürburgring has been won by the #20 BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 of Dominic Baumann, Claudia Hürtgen, Jens Klingmann and Martin Tomczyk. A better strategy put them in front of the Manthey Racing Porsche Cup-machine of Christoph Breuer, Sven Müller and Matteo Cairoli. The Haribo Racing Team Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Marco Holzer, Uwe Alzen and Mike Stursberg led almost all of the six hours of racing, but a mechanical failure ended their race with fifteen minutes to go.
Top 5 classification
1 Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 (D. Baumann/C. Hürtgen/J. Klingmann/M. Tomczyk)
2 Manthey Racing Porsche Cup (C. Breuer/S. Müller/M. Cairoli)
3 Team Black Falcon Porsche Cup (P. Eng/M. Metzger/H. Plesse/’Gerwin’)
4 Team Falken Porsche 997 GT3 (P. Dumbreck/W. Henzler)
5 Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 (A. Sims/D. Müller/M. Werner/M. Wittmann)