GT World Challenge Europe

GRT Grasser Take First Blood at Nurburgring

2 Mins read
Mirko Bortolotti / GRT Grasser Lamborghini / Blancpain
Credit: SRO / Patrick Hecq Photography

A win for the #63 GRT Grasser Racing ensures the Lamborghini remains in contention for the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup with one more race tomorrow.

After breaking away in the early stages around the Nurburgring, Mirko Bortolotti handed the car over to Christian Engelhart who withstood the pressure from the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT driven by Christopher Mies for his third win of the year.

It was a strong start for Alex Riberas in the #1 WRT Audi, quickly forcing his way past Albert Costa in the Lexus. With the #14 Emil Frey Racing continuing the hassle the Audi, the polesitting #63 Lamborghini soon broke away.

The first major incident came 11 minutes in. The Pro-Am championship leader was spun by the #333 Rinaldi Racing. It was a disaster for Piti Bhirombhakdi, as the small class ensures that a retirement will all but end their chances at winning the title this weekend.

After a full course yellow to remove the #39 TP-12 Kessel Racing, the Lamborghini led them away as the #1 Audi decided to pit at the earliest possible opportunity after again dropping behind the leader.

New tyres helped the Audi close the gap to the leader as the Lexus fell back. With their other championship rivals initially at the tail end of the top ten, the Audi harried Engelhart, knowing the few points available could be vital before tomorrow’s race.

It wasn’t enough though as the #63 Lamborghini took the flag, with Engelhart putting in one of the defensive drives of the season to take their third win of the year. The result keeps them in the championship with the Meis’, Audi dropping back in the final two laps to consolidate second.

The podium would be rounded out by another Audi, after the #2 Team WRT car caught and barged their way past Andrea Calderelli in the #19 GRT Grasser Lamborghini. Dries Vanthoor had caught Calderelli in the second half and after half a dozen laps of pressure, made an aggressive overtake into the first corner, sideswiping the Lamborghini. No action was taken and Calderelli settled for fourth.

The drive of the race though went to the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes. After failing to get in the top ten during qualifying, Michael Meadows and Raffaele Marciello caught and passed a number of the midfield runners, eventually scything past the Lexus for fifth and ensure they only lost 6 points to the title leaders.

As for the #14 Lexus, Christian Klien was unable to keep up Costa’s pace, dropping to sixth. He remained two seconds adrift from the fight for seventh where Kelvin van der Linde in the #66 Attempto Racing held off the #87 AKKA ASP Mercedes.

The top three are now separated by just 11 points going into the Sprint Cup finale tomorrow, where championship leaders Team WRT start from fourteenth.

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