Vanthoor and Frijns Dominate in Brands Hatch Qualifying Race

by Peter Allen
Frijns Vanthoor

Laurens Vanthoor and Robin Frijns claimed a dominant victory in the Blancpain Sprint Series qualifying race at Brands Hatch, finishing nearly half a minute clear in their WRT Audi.

Starting from pole position, Vanthoor retained the lead and the #1 car only lost the lead during the pitstop phase. At the end of the one-hour race, GT newcomer Frijns took the chequered flag with a margin of 26 seconds over the sister #2 car in what was his first Sprint Series race after a qualifying crash eliminated the car at Nogaro.

The Reiter Lamborghini of Nicky Catsburg and Albert von Thurn und Taxis spent the majority of the race in second place but a penalty for speeding in the pits relegated the car to eighth.

That promoted the #2 Audi of Christopher Mies and Enzo Ide, who held off a train of four other cars at the end of the race.

The MRS Nissan of Craig Dolby and Sean Walkinshaw was behind the Audi in the opening stint, but a slow pitstop dropped it behind the two BMW Team Brazil cars.

Walkinshaw was able to repass the #0 car of Sergio Jimenez and Caca Bueno but was unable to make the podium despite his best efforts to challenge the #77 of Atila Abreu and Valdeno Brito. After Rob Bell held ninth during the first half of the race, Kevin Estre climbed to sixth and caught the back of that pack in his Attempto McLaren.

The Phoenix Racing Audi of Markus Winkelhock and Niki Mayr-Melnhof was seventh ahead of the Lamborghini, while the top ten was completed by Frank Stippler and James Nash‘s Audi and the Ferrari of Norbert Siedler and Marco Seefried, which recovered from a trip to the gravel on the opening lap and a consequent extra pitstop.

Triple Eight BMW driver Joe Osborne jumped the Brazilian-entered cars and up to fifth with a fantastic start, but co-driver Lee Mowle finished back in 15th after a slow driver change and a collision when Mercedes driver Aleksey Vasilyev shut the door on his attempted pass at Druids, sending the Russian off-track.

After the race, Mies and Ide were penalised for an unsafe release at their pitstop, pushing them down to ninth and promoting Dolby and Walkinshaw to the podium.

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