The #63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan made it four wins in a row with a narrow victory in the Blancpain Endurance Series round at Silverstone.
Mirko Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli and Christian Engelhart helped make it a double success on the British Blancpain rounds, but unlike their previous success, this triumph was anything but a walk in the park.
The team had to endure a false start and final lap, as well as a determined charge from Mercedes to hold onto the win by just 0.344 seconds from Maximilian Buhk.
Serralles False Starts
This action packed contest contained drama at the very start.
The race start had to be restarted when the drivers deviated from the row by row rolling start formation even before the lights had gone green.
This resulted in several near collisions including the front row cars when the pole-sitting #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes of Felix Serralles cut across the track to the #63 who was only inches from being hit.
Serralles’ behaviour would result in a 1 minute stop go penalty, ruining the pole-sitting car’s race.
On the proper start Bortolotti jumped the #88 and soon began to pull away by a second a lap.
This was the form the team had shown during their clean sweep of the Brands Hatch Sprint event a week earlier so their competitors were relieved when the safety car came out when the Am #188 McLaren was spun at Luffield.
Yet on the restart Bortolotti quickly pulled away while Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #50 AF Corse Ferrari deposed of #84 HTP Mercedes of Franck Perera and then took advantage of Serralles’ penalty to attempt to chase down the Lamborghini.
Yet there was no need as a Full Course Yellow and then a safety car was deployed again when Jonny Kane in the #44 McLaren had a massive at Becketts had a massive accident, punching a big hole in the armco barrier.
This was the convenient time for many crews to make their first pitstops.
Meadows Early Stop Gives AKKA ASP the Lead
Teams which pitted under the Full Course Yellow included the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes and the two M-Sport Bentleys and these crews benefited over those who pitted under the safety car.
As a result when the pitstops had cycled round the #90 Mercedes of Michael Meadows was in the lead from the safety car stopping #63 of Andrea Caldarelli and #50 of Pasin Lathouras.
The Bentleys jumped up from the mid twenties to the top 10 with Andy Soucek in the #8 occupying sixth.
Upon the restart Meadows was immediately forced into the defensive from Caldarelli, while behind them Jimmy Eriksson in the #84 passed Lathouras and charged down the leaders.
He attempted an to overtake at the tight Farm hairpin, but Caldarelli held his ground on that occasions, but a few laps later Eriksson squeezed open a gap at Luffield and soon put Meadows under the same amount of pressure.
However after a failed attempt to repeat the move at Luffield, Meadows was able to pull a gap for the first time since the start of the stint.
Behind them Soucek in the Bentley was now on the back of the Lamborghini, while Miguel Molina in the #72 SMP Ferrari was right on his bootlid.
When the second round of pitstops began, all of the top five leaders pitted at the same time bringing the race into the pitlane.
Here it was the #63 GRT with Christian Engelhart now at the wheel, that got the quickest stop and jumped the two Mercedes’ emerged from the pits in the lead.
Battle for the Lead Decided by Traffic
Yet any thoughts that the #63 would race into the distance vanished as Raffaele Marciello in the #90 kept the Lambo in touching distance, but couldn’t attack as Maximilian Buhk in the #84 remained close behind.
Yet all three were being caught by Davide Rigon in the #72 SMP Ferrari who had dropped Maxime Soulet in the #8 Bentley.
Unfortunately the lead battle was disrupted by traffic. Straight after disposing of the #90 car, Buhk then got stuck behind the #78 Pro-Am Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini of Richard Abra for a lap.
This offered Engelhart the chance he needed to break away and by the time Buhk finally lapped the Lamborghini, the lead had jumped from a second to five seconds.
Buhk, using sticker tyres, then went on a charge and inched his way onto the rear of the Lamborghini with just five minutes remaining.
Yet despite Engelhart being stuck behind Côme Ledogar’s #58 McLaren, Buhk could not find a way by and when they both crossed the finishing line with two minutes to go, the final lap board was displayed and Buhk seemed to have run out of chances.
Yet when they crossed the finish line next time round, the Chequered Flag was not waved, Engelhart had crossed the line with just three seconds to spare and therefore had to hold the Mercedes off for one last time.
Thankfully for the Lamborghini crew the German was able to achieve this but by just 0.344 seconds.
Marciello could not live with Buhk’s pace and settled for third, just 2.7 seconds behind.
Adam Comes Up Just Short in Epic Charge and Rinaldi the Giant Killing Am Ferrari
Pro-Am also featured a battle till the flag as for the second race in a row, Jonny Adam in #97 Oman Racing Aston Martin had an hour in which to catch the Pro-Am leader, the #77 Barwell Lamborghini of Patrick Kujala.
Coming onto the final laps Adam was right with the Lamborghini, but the last round at Monza, he was unable to snatch the lead.
The Am category winners the #488 Rinaldi Ferrari pulled off the race’s giant killing act as the car ran well within the top 30 throughout, ahead of the leading Pro-Am competitors and even mixing it with the Pro cars.
They eventually finished 34th overall a lap ahead of the second place on the #888 Kessel Racing Ferrari.
The Garage 59 #188 McLaren which contained Top Gear’s Chris Harris as one of its drivers, failed to get away from the grid on the formation lap.
They got away but was later punted into a spin by the Am #32 Mercedes of Immanuel Vinke at Luffield, bringing an end to their Am hopes.
Vinke received a stop-go five minute penalty for the incident, but was later dumped in the gravel at Corpse by the #4 Mercedes of Luca Stolz.