The HTP Motorsport pairing of Dominik Baumann and Maxi Buhk claimed victory in the main race at the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup’s first appearance in Budapest and the Hungaroring.
At a track that became notorious over the weekend for being difficult to overtake in the first few corners, Buhk proved all it really took was a bit of grit and determination as he took the #84 Mercedes AMG GT3 from row three to the front come turn three taking advantage of the squabbles between Enzo Ide’s Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS and Tristan Vautier’s Team AKKA ASP Mercedes.
After clattering into Ide, Vautier would also collide with Frederic Vervisch’s Team WRT Audi as Buhk started to pull away into the distance and leave Ide – who had recovered to second – trailing in his wake.
However, the racing wouldn’t last long as Martin Plowman’s Garage 59 McLaren 650S and Alessio Picariello’s Phoenix Racing Audi tangled in the third sector and had to be recovered under full course yellow. That said, there was one dangerous point as the recovery crane crossed the track as Maxi Buhk closed in on him – it was covered by double-waved yellows but it was still a very misjudged move by race officials.
When the race got back underway, the order stayed roughly as was but when it got to the pits, the quick work of the WRT mechanics saw Vervisch handover to Laurens Vanthoor and get out in what felt like record time. Unfortunately for them, an unsafe release after that rapid stop saw them lose their eventual second place because of a 30 second penalty.
Before that penalty was known though, Vanthoor found himself sitting in second place and quickly feeling like he was being stalked as Team WRT team mate – and Ide’s co-driver – Christopher Mies started to close in and finished just 0.6s behind as the chequered flag fell.
After the race, he said: “I think we can be more or less happy. For sure you always want to win but I had good pace and the car was mega. To catch a car is one story but there were two! Having both cars on the podium is quite good for WRT. We are leading the championship so I think we can be very happy.”
The second Team WRT car he was referring to was the #28 of Rene Rast and Will Stevens. Building on Rast’s strong first stint, former F1 racer Stevens played the defensive role to keep Felix Rosenqvist at bay in the #88 Team AKKA ASP Mercedes, who settled for fifth place.
One AKKA ASP pairing have more success though was the Pro-Am entry of Christophe Bourret and Jean-Philippe Belloc which led home the sister Pro-AM AKKA ASP Mercedes of Morgan Moullin-Traffort and Jean-Luc Beaubelique.
After what was a rather tasty battle between the two nearly identical machines, Bourret said: “It was a good race, we began very cool and we made a very good driver change. Then Jean-Philippe controlled Morgan [Moullin-Traffort] in his stint, which is what allowed us to win. This is a very good race for the whole team and for us because it is the first win this year in Sprint Cup.”
The next round of the Blancpain GT Series is the finale of the Endurance Cup at the Nurburgring on September 18/19.