There were titles aplenty as the 2016 Blancpain GT Series came to its end with a Sprint Cup showcase in Barcelona that saw Belgian Audi Club Team WRT’s Enzo Ide claim the Sprint crown as HTP Motorsport’s Maxi Buhk and Dominik Baumann claim overall honours.
How the Sprint Cup was won
Starting third after what was a rockier qualifying session than the Belgian businessman would have hoped, the 25-year-old professional racer partnered with Robin Frijns to go from third to victory in the Sunday morning qualifying race before playing a smart session in the main race to finish on the podium and only a breath away from second place to make sure of the title for him, and the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup team title for Belgian Audi Club Team WRT.
Taking the championship is just desserts for Ide, who took four wins throughout the season – the main race at Brands Hatch, and the qualifying races at Nurburgring, Budapest and the above mentioned victory at Barcelona. Unfortunately for season-long teammate Christopher Mies, a second title battle in the ADAC GT Masters at the same time as the Barcelona weekend saw him sacrifice Blancpain GT Series glory.
Indeed, such was the extent of Ide and Mies’ partnership, the young Belgian believes they only won because of the rhythm they had as a partnership.
Ide said: “We won four races this season and I am quite happy about that, because I am a mix of a Pro and an Am driver together. I am happy about the season and winning the championship. For me it’s the first time that I win a championship. Some of these guys are used to that but I am not, so I think I will only realise in a few days that I am the Sprint Cup champion. I never thought I would win the title because when you look at the entry list, there are a lot of good drivers, with a lot of experience. But after Brands Hatch when we saw where we were, Christopher and I found a good rhythm. I would like to thank him and congratulate him. Without him and Robin it wouldn’t have been possible for me to win this title.”
Baumann and Buhk hold on to claim overall honours
Dominik Baumann and Maxi Buhk’s HTP Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 almost failed them at the last hurdle, but two points finishes (just about) saw them claim the top prize.
In the qualifying race, an eighth place qualifying position was converted to sixth place on the road – earning a few valuable points – but an eight place grid position only allowed them to claim the Blancpain GT Series title after the Garage 59 McLaren 650S of Rob Bell and Alvaro Parente failed to score any points. However, their small points haul meant they were never going to be in contention for unseating Ide for the Sprint Cup title.
Afterwards, Baumann said: “After qualifying we realised we were not quick enough to go for the win – which was what we needed to claim the Sprint Cup – so we focused even more on the overall championship. In the qualifying race we were a bit lucky to claim the one point and with the McLaren getting a penalty things were looking good. The main race was a bit crazy, because it seemed like I was constantly under investigation. Fortunately we did not get a drive-through. We are very happy this weekend is over, because it was really tough, and even more happy to have won the championship. We are very happy with what we showed this season, so now all that is left to do is to celebrate this title!”
For teammate Maxi Buhk, he has put his name to a rare honour – the first driver ever to win the Endurance Cup (in 2012), Sprint Cup (2015) and then the overall trophy. He said: “We did not have the pace in the race, so it was really tough today. Especially at the end of my stint, because we needed some points to not only win the drivers’ championship but also the teams’ championship. So I could not attack as aggressively as others were defending, but in the end I am more happy to have won the championship together with Dominik. I think this is the most important championship you can win, because it shows you are consistent in both endurance and sprint. I am proud to share this title with Dominik.”
The 2017 Blancpain GT Series begins at Misano with the opening round of the Sprint Cup at Misano on April 2.