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Bastian and Neubauer win Brands Hatch Blancpain GT opener

Sunday, May 05 2019

Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer claimed the first victory of the new Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe season with a controlled performance around the legendary Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit this afternoon (Sunday). 

Bastian started the car from third on the grid, and after holding position in the early stages, the AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG duo jumped early leaders Luca Stolz and Maro Engel in the pit-stop phase of the race. Despite pressure from Engel in the latter half of the contest, Neubauer never lost the lead and held on until the chequered flag. 

The race initially got off to something of a false start, as the safety car was immidiately required following an incident which sent the Audi R8 LMS GT3s of Steijn Schothorst and Kim-Luis Schramm pirouetting into the gravel trap at paddock hill bend. 

Andrea Calderelli was elimnated from contention too at this point, after beind adjudged to be culpable for the drama at the first corner. The Lamborghini driver, who started from fourth on the grid was awarded a one-minute penalty and the car was retired from the race. 

Thus, pole-sitter Stolz maintained his grid position into the early stages of the race behind the wheel of his Mercedes-AMG. Mirko Bortolotti was the early second place runner in the Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan he shares with Christian Engelhart, just ahead of Bastian. 

The top-three remained in situe throughout the early part of the race once it resumed with 48 minutes still on the clock, before the pit window opened midway through. Bastian remained out longer than either Stolz or Bortolotti, and by the time the pit stop phase had played out, Neubauer was firmly in the lead. 

Neubauer, who was taking to the track for just hte first time in a GT race controlled the race beautifully until the chequered flag. Engel reduced the gap at one stage, and forced a few minor errors from the young Frenchman, but he ultimately brought home the bacon. 

Engel and Bastian had to settle for second position, whilst Bortolotti and Engelhart held on to third place to start the season with a podium finish.

Vincent Abril and Raffaelle Marciello, who set the pace early in the weekend rose from sixth to fourth in their Mercedes-AMG, whilst Kelvin van der Linde and Clemens Schmid were the leading Audi R8 LMS performers to complete the top-five. 

Tom Gamble narrowly edged out Ricky Collard in the battle to finish as the leading Brit in the race, by driving to sixth in his Audi R8 alongside Shae Davies, just ahead of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Collard shares with Marvin Kirchhofer. 

In addition to winning the overall race, Bastian and Neubauer also claimed the spoils in the Silver Cup for driver line-ups comprised entirely of silver-rated drivers. There was srama too in the Pro-Am Cup where the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari of Rinat Salikhov and David Perel inherited the win after the class-leading machine of Louis Machiels speared off at Stirlings. 

Race Result
1, Bastian/Neubauer, Mercedes-AMG GT3, 39 laps
2, Stolz/Engel, Mercedes-AMG GT3, +2.003s
3, Bortolotti/Engelhart, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, +10.200s
4, Abril/Marciello, Mercedes-AMG GT3, +20.847s
5, Van der Linde/Schmid, Audi R8 LMS GT3, +22.103s
6, Davies/Gamble, Audi R8 LMS GT3, +22.597s
7, Collard/Kirchhofer, Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3, +30.611s
8, Hutchison/Vervisch, Audi R8 LMS GT3, +30.936s
9, Tunjo/Breukers, Audi R8 LMS GT3, +34.404s
10, Dontje/Druidi, Audi R8 LMS GT3, +34.896s

For full results, click here.