Grasser Lamborghini Dominates Brands BSS Qualifying Race

by James Thompson

Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart took a dominant victory in the Qualifying Race at the Blancpain Sprint Series Round at Brands Hatch.

The #63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Hurracan took their scintillating qualifying pace and converted it into a dominant race victory over the #98 ROWE Racing BMW M6.

The lime green Lamborghini will now line-up on pole for the main race and are favourites to make it a clean sweep.

Bortolotti started out from pole, getting the jump on fellow front row man Christopher Mies in the #1 WRT Audi who was then passed by Jesse Krohn in the #98 BMW on the run down to the first corner.

Mies was then attacked by the #26 Sainteloc Audi of Christopher Hasse which resulted in Hasse spinning in the middle of the track at Paddock Hill Bend.

He was somehow avoided by the rest of the field and managed to continue at the rear of the field, but Mies soon picked a puncture, ending the race for the reigning Sprint Series Champions.

The #98 ROWE Racing BMW of the all-Finnish pairing of Jesse Krohn and Markus Palttala was second throughout, but couldn’t match the pace of the leading Lamborghini. Credit: Olivier Beround/Vision Sport Agency

Bortolotti pulled away from Krohn who in turn held off the second of the Grasser Racing Team cars and the #66 Attempto Racing Lamborghini of Marco Mapelli.

Behind them the cars were forced into a single file procession as the tight narrow circuit with fast corners made overtaking is difficult for such big evenly matched cars.

Bentley in particular were handicapped as they struggled to make their way up through the field after their poor qualifying performance.

Steven Kane in the #7 Bentley was unable to find a way past the #75 ISR Audi of Filip Salaquarda in 16th place and then suffered a puncture just before the opening of the pitline.

He finished the race in 20th place.

When the pitstops opened Bortolotti surrendered his six second lead to Krohn but regained the lead when the BMW stopped and now piloted by Engelhart, quickly built up a eight second lead.

The Championship leaders the #84 HTP Mercedes of Maximilian Buhk and Franck Perera gained three places in the pits to run sixth.

The race saw little change until the Safety Car came out to deal with a collision between the #8 Bentley and the #89 AKKA ASP Mercedes, which left the Mercedes in the middle of the track.

The Bentley received a 40 second time penalty added to its race time due to the collision which left it in 24th.

Bentley had a difficult race. Stranded in the field with few places to pass they finished 20th and 24th places after incidents. Credit: Olivier Beround/Vision Sport Agency

The restart didn’t result in any major changes as Engelhart drove away to clinch a dominant victory by three seconds from Markus Palttala in the #98 BMW, with the #19 Grasser Lamborghini rounding out the podium.

Yet there was disappointment for the #84 Mercedes when Perera picked up a puncture at the restart, dropping the championship leaders from 4th to 23rd position.

The battle for the final points scoring place was an all British affair with Stuart Leonard in the #17 WRT Audi attempting to hold off Ben Barnicoat in #58 Strakka Racing McLaren.

After seeing attempts thwarted lap after lap, Barnicoat finally managed to pull off the undercut at Paddock Hill Bend to grab sixth and the final points place.

Pro-Am was won by the #333 Rinaldi Ferrari of Alexander Mattschull and Daniel Keilwitz who finished 19th overall.

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