The #4 Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon crew of Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Yelmer Buurman took a superb victory in the season-closing Blancpain GT Series event at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to clinch the Endurance Cup title in style, while Raffaele Marciello wrapped up the overall championship with Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP.
The #4 Mercedes-AMG triumphed in perfect fashion, winning a race run under sunny Barcelona skies from pole position thanks to accomplished performances from all three of its drivers. Engel, Stolz and Buurman secured a double success, as Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon can also celebrate its first Endurance Cup teams’ championship.
After making a strong start, Engel opened up a significant advantage during the first stint, which Stolz was able to gradually build upon when he took the Mercedes-AMG’s controls for the second hour.
Buurman faced the only significant challenge when a safety car period dropped him to second on the road, but the Dutchman was able to overhaul the #54 Emil Frey Racing G3 Jaguar quickly.
He remained under pressure from Tristan Vautier in the #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP machine until the end, particularly as the safety car again closed the pack during the final 30 minutes.
The tension was significant, as a successful move by Vautier would have secured crewmate Marciello a sweep of Blancpain GT Series titles. Despite this, experienced GT ace Buurman remained cool to win both the race and the Endurance Cup championship.
An ecstatic Maro Engel had this to say following the race, “I’ve got to say a big thank you to the team as they set our car up beautifully and it was a pleasure to drive. The Aston Martin held back the other guys, who could’ve driven quicker, but either way, our car was very strong.”
“I’m massively proud of this team; this group of people fully deserved the championship win. They’ve done an awesome job all year. We came here not worrying about the title and just trying to win the race. There were so many contenders, so the best approach was to go for the win.”
That race result may have denied Marciello the Endurance crown, but he still had plenty of reason to celebrate as his car’s run to second on the road clinched the overall Blancpain GT Series titles for the Italian star and the AKKA ASP squad.
Marciello was impressive in the opening stint, moving from sixth to third during the first hour with a series of decisive moves.
But he also has his #88 AKKA ASP crewmates, Daniel Juncadella and Tristan Vautier, to thank for his title. Both made progress, with Juncadella running third for much of his stint and Vautier then climbing to second by overhauling the #54 Jaguar.
With a second-place finish, AKKA ASP can also celebrate winning the overall Blancpain GT Series teams’ title, a remarkable achievement for an outfit that won its first Endurance Cup race at the same circuit 12 months ago.
The overall podium was completed by the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 488 of Mikhail Aleshin, Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina, a result that rewarded the pace the #72 machine has demonstrated throughout the 2018 campaign.