Enzo Ide put one hand on the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup title by winning the qualifying race in the last event of the 2016 season. The Belgian shared the #33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT with stand-in team-mate Robin Frijns. The #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini of Mirko Bortolotti and Nicolas Pohler finished second, with the #88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG of Felix Rosenqvist and Tristan Vautier completing the podium. Elsewhere, Michele Beretta and Luca Stolz won the 2016 Silver Cup by finishing second in the category.
At the start, the long Barcelona pit straight allowed Frijns to slipstream his way past the cars on the front row, getting his car first into turn one. The Dutchman – replacing Christopher Mies as Ide’s team-mate – fended off the attacks during the first couple of laps and then ran away from the competition. With a 15s advantage, Ide had little trouble keeping first place until the finish where he claimed an important eight points.
“At the start I saw a gap on the right and went for it.” said Robin Frijns. “There was a lot of risk but I just made the first corner.
“Then I kept pushing until the pit-stops. Anything can happen so I just focused on building a gap before encountering a bit of traffic towards the end of my stint, which cost me some time. But Enzo drove very well to maintain the lead.”
Behind the Audi duo the other title contenders had a far from trouble-free race. Jules Szymkowiak was running in second in the #86 Mercedes-AMG, but – just like Alvaro Parente (Rob Bell’s team-mate in the #58 McLaren) – the Dutchman was penalised with a drive-through for cutting the corner at the start.
Laurens Vanthoor and Fred Vervisch made a great comeback from 18th on the grid, only to be handed a drive-through penalty (transformed into a 30-second penalty) when Vanthoor hit third-placed Marlon Stockinger minutes from the end.
That handed Dominik Baumann and Maxi Buhk in the #84 Mercedes-AMG the point for sixth, after a race in which they were never really in contention for a podium finish. It leaves the German-Austrian duo 24 points behind Ide, meaning the Belgian only needs a ninth place finish in this afternoon’s main race to clinch the crown.
Baumann and Buhk do increase their lead in the overall Blancpain GT Series standings however, and now have a six-point advantage over Rob Bell, who will start from 16th this afternoon.
In the Silver Cup Alessio Picariello and Nicolaj Möller Madsen had a faultless race, not only claiming the win in the category but also finishing seventh overall. By claiming second, #19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini drivers Luca Stolz and Michele Beretta now have enough of an advantage to claim the 2016 Silver Cup.
In the Pro-Am Cup the title is still undecided. Michal Broniszewski and Giacomo Piccini only took two points after the Polish had a brief excursion through a gravel trap and with their competitors Morgan Moullin-Traffort and Jean-Luc Beaubelique taking the win, the gap now is 21 points between the two pairings. Meanwhile, the Am Cup was dominated by the #55 AF Corse Ferrari of Stephane Lemeret and the 2016 Am Cup winner Claudio Sdanewitsch, who had little trouble in keeping the competition behind.