HTP Motorsport pairing Maxi Buhk and Franck Perera replicated their Qualifying Race success to win the Main Race at the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup opener at Misano.
Starting from pole position, the crew never looked troubled as they pulled off into the distance and would eventually win by a Sprint Cup record gap of 23 seconds over the #7 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3.
The Bentley of Vincent Abril and Steven Kane would be running third for a time, before the AKKA ASP Mercedes AMG GT3 of Michael Meadows – which was running second – had a wheel nut issue at the pitstop and proceeded to lose places hand over fist.
Kane wouldn’t be comfortable in his second though as Dominik Baumann in the second HTP Motorsport Mercedes carried on the excellent work of Jimmy Ericsson to go from 20th to third. However, he would find the Northern Irish Bentley driver in fine form round the Adriatic circuit and in possession of the widest Continental in production.
Try as he might Baumann wouldn’t be able to get past and had to settle for a still respectable third place. He said: “I was a bit surprised to find myself in P3. Jimmy did a great job in getting to seventh at the pitstop. I tried to put Steven under pressure, but it was difficult to stay close to the Bentley all the time. Still, I am very happy with this result.”
That fighting allowed Buhk to pull away undisturbed at the front and is already looking to keep the advantage for the rest of the season. He explained: “It’s the best possible start to the season, but this is the point where we have to continue to work hard and keep this advantage for the rest of the season. The car was outstanding for the whole of the weekend, which was confirmed by the sister car that finished in third.”
Indeed the weekend got even better for the actual Mercedes AMG GT3 as Felix Serralles and Dani Juncadella finished fourth in the second AKKA ASP entry.
For reigning champion Enzo Ide, 11th would be the best he could muster in the Team WRT Audi R8 LMS as he and team-mate Chris Mies couldn’t recover from an early spin for Ide.
The next round of the Blancpain GT Series is the season opener for the Endurance Cup opener at Monza in three weeks, and the next round of the Sprint Cup is at Brands Hatch in May.