The Qualifying Race of the Blancpain GT Sprint Cup at Nürburgring had all signs of Garage 59 continuing their domination from the Endurance Cup at Paul Ricard, but pit stop time and good defence were on favor of WRT, Enzo Ide and Christopher Mies this Saturday afternoon.
Lights go green and mess was made into turn 1, as one Audi from WRT and another from ISR went off the track and collided with one of the GRT Lamborghinis, while other cars involved continued with some bodywork damage. In the lead pack, a two-way battle started to take place between Alvaro Parente in the No. 58 Garage 59 McLaren and Christopher Mies in the No. 33 WRT Audi.
Parente and Mies slightly opened a gap while René Rast was a patient spectator in the No. 28 WRT Audi, specially because the sprint version of the Nürburgring circuit has various tight points, which makes the overtaking task to be a bit problematic. But instead of waiting, you can force a mistake and pass, as Maxime Soulet in the No. 8 M-SPORT Bentley tried on Dries Vanthoor in the No. 4 WRT Audi as they battled for the seventh place.
Early into the pit window came the No. 58 Garage 59 McLaren, now with Rob Bell behind the wheel while the whole Audi fleet behind him kept their ways into the track. In a space of five minutes all the leading Audis stopped, with the No. 33 one taking the lead with Enzo Ide as the driver. Marlon Stockinger was holding the No. 74 ISR Audi in second, but a slide in the Mercedes Arena opened the way for Rob Bell to be second. With less than 20 minutes to go, while one McLaren was eagerly in the fight, the other one, the No. 59 car, retired with problems, what called a full course yellow that would create a winning possibility for Rob Bell.
With the caution time being too short to notice, Bell would have to work his way again to catch up with Ide, and with the gap constantly going down sector by sector, that would be a reality, although backmarker presence affected Bell’s progress pretty badly. When finally clean air appeared, the McLaren resumed its charge, only to be halted again when Bell went a bit off the track due to a brake lockup.
2 minutes to go and Bell finally had the Belgian driver into his overtaking reach, but all the moves that the British driver made proved to be ineffective against a very protective Enzo Ide, who just had to cross the finish line when Bell stopped attacking before the last corner. The No. 28 WRT Audi completed the podium as Will Stevens also capitalized into a mistake of Marlon Stockinger. The No. 19 GRT Lamborghini won the Silver Cup class, Kessel Racing won in the Pro-Am class and AF Corse took Am class honors.
PHOTO: W Racing Team