BMW Drivers Martin and Muller Win Main Race at Blancpain Sprint Opener


On-loan factory drivers Maxime Martin and Dirk Muller claimed a maiden Blancpain Sprint Series victory for BMW Team Brazil in the main race at the first round of the season at Nogaro.

Starting second, DTM driver Martin was able to do what he couldn’t do in Sunday’s qualifying race and get past the #3 WRT Audi of Stephane Richelmi on the opening lap.

Richelmi conceded second soon afterwards to the sister #2 car of Christopher Mies, which went on to take the lead after the pit stops.

A later stop enabled Mies’ co-driver Enzo Ide to emerge ahead of the BMW, in the hands of Muller from the halfway mark.

Muller quickly closed the gap however and put in an opportunistic move on Ide at turn one to reclaim the lead as they encountered the slow McLaren of Yoshihari Mori.

Richelmi handed over to fellow Monegasque Stephane Ortelli early in the pit window, and the veteran was also able to get past Ide.

Ortelli chased Muller to the end, but the BMW – which only had the factory duo on board this weekend because Antonio Hermann’s regular four drivers were taking part in Stock Cars in Brazil – remained ahead and win by 0.368 seconds.

Ide finished eight seconds back in third ahead of the HTP Bentley of Maximilian Buhk, who together with Vincent Abril completed a fine recovery from Sunday’s first-lap contact. The sole Ferrari of Rinaldi Racing, Norbert Siedler and Marco Seefried finished in fifth.

Bernd Schneider‘s co-driver Alexei Karachev did well for the first part of his stint in the GT Russian Mercedes to hold sixth with a train of three Audis behind him but he eventually fell outside of the points to 11th.

Having cleared the Mercedes, the #4 WRT R8 of James Nash and Frank Stippler survived contact with Mori to pass the #75 ISR car of Marco Bonanomi and Igor Salaquarda for sixth, while the Phoenix entry of Niki Mayr-Melnhof and Markus Winkelhock had to settle for eighth.

The other Russian Mercedes of Alexei Vasiliev and Christophe Bouchut came through to ninth ahead of the second Brazil BMW of ex-F3000 racers and twins Rodrigo Sperafico and Ricardo Sperafico.

Nogaro Main Race Result

177Maxime Martin/Dirk MullerBMW Team Brasil41 Laps
23Stephane Ortelli/Stephane RichelmiBelgian Audi Club Team WRT+0.368s
32Enzo Ide/Christopher MiesBelgian Audi Club Team WRT+8.322s
484Vincent Abril/Maximilian BuhkBentley Team HTP+20.798s
5333Marco Seefried/Norbert SiedlerRinaldi Racing+23.766s
64James Nash/Frank StipplerBelgian Audi Club Team WRT+46.772s
775Marco Bonanomi/Filip SalaquardaISR Racing+50.188s
86Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof/Markus WinkelhockPhoenix Racing+50.856s
971Aleksey Vasilyev/Christophe BouchetGT Russian Team+59.041s
100Ricardo Sperafico/Rodrigo SperaficoBMW Team Brasil+1m07.740s
1170Aleksey Karachev/Bernd SchneiderGT Russian Team+1m09.516s
1274Anders Fjordbach/Thomas FjordbachISR Racing+1m09.667s
1355Rob Bell/Kevin EstreAttempto Racing+1m10.844s
1483Olivier Lombard/Jules SzymkowiakBentley Team HTP+1m13.007s
1573Craig Dolby/Sean WalkinshawMRS GT-Racing+1m15.461s
16911Martin Ragginger/Marcel WagnerFach Auto Tech+1m16.289s
1788Nick Catsburg/Albert von Thurn und TaxisReiter Engineering+1m16.742s
1854Yoshiharu Mori/Philipp WlazikAttempto Racing33 Laps