Vanthoor/Stevens Audi Battle to Opening Race Victory at Brands Hatch

by Paul Hensby
Dries Vanthoor/Will Stevens - Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

Dries Vanthoor and Will Stevens converted their pole position for race one at Brands Hatch into victory on Sunday, although they did not have it easy during the one-hour sprint at the Kent circuit.

Vanthoor started the race in the #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS before handing over to Stevens for the final stint, but whereas the Belgian was able to edge away from the field, the Briton was less comfortable as he found himself being shadowed by the #66 Attempto Racing Audi of Kelvin van der Linde, as well as the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi of Christopher Mies and the #88 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes of Raffaele Marciello.

Stevens was perfect in defence and withstood the pressure from behind right until the chequered flag, but the final laps saw a shuffle behind the Briton, with the #66 losing out at Paddock Hill bend to the #1 as he suffered a puncture.

Van der Linde tumbled down the order on that final lap as he struggled with the puncture, ultimately finishing down in eighth, with the Mies/Alex Riberas Audi ensuring a team one-two for Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, 1.195 seconds down on the sister car, while the Marciello/Michael Meadows Mercedes completed the podium.

The #17 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi claimed fourth in the hands of Stuart Leonard and Frederic Vervisch, while the #87 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes of Nicolas Jamin and Felix Serralles clinched fifth, just 0.018 seconds ahead of the #55 Attempto Racing Audi of Pieter Schothorst and Pierre Kaffer.

Simon Gachet and Christopher Haase put the #25 Sainteloc Racing Audi into seventh, beating the van der Linde/Steijn Schothorst Audi to the line, while the #114 Emil Frey Lexus Racing Lexus and the #63 Grasser Racing Lamborghini completed the top ten.

Piti Bhirombhakdi and Carlo van Dam took the honours in the Pro-Am Cup class in the #39 TP 12 – Kessel Racing Ferrari, while the Silver Cup class honours eventually went to the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley of Joshua Caygill and Aron Taylor Smith.

The #90 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes of Nico Bastian and Jack Manchester were on course to take the class honours only for Manchester spun out late in the day.  This promoted the #37 3Y Technology BMW to the front, only for the Andrew Watson/Lukas Moraes car to be disqualified post-race, handing the win to the #31.

Piti Bhirombhakdi/Carlo van Dam - TP 12 - Kessel Racing

The Piti Bhirombhakdi & Carlo van Dam Ferrari took the honours in the Pro-Am Cup class – Credit: SRO / Dirk Bogaerts Photography

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