A sunny spring day at Brands Hatch is always a treat, but when Blancpain is in town, “We can have our cake and eat it too”. The second round of the Sprint Cup brings us to the Classic and Historic Brands Hatch Circuit, with infamous corner names like Surtees, Paddock Hill Bend, Druids and Dingle Dell it’s hard not to love this Vintage British Track.
While the 31 strong field thundered down to Turn 1, it was the Christian Engelhart, Mirko Bortolotti driven #63 Grasser Lamborghini that lead from Pole. They didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend and their efforts paid off with the #63 car dominating both races. After the duo, joined by Andrea Caldarelli took the empathetic win back in Monza, their fortunes continued snatching the Pole and winning the Qualifying Race and then going on to take the triple, absolutely destroying the rest of the field in the Main Race.
As the Pristine V10 screamed around Clark Curve and onto the start finish straight, the Grasser Crew were waiting on the pit wall and went absolutely mental when the car crossed the line first, taking the points lead. It was a bitter sweet victory for GRT Squad, with their sister car retiring, a Broken Driveshaft prevented Norbert Siedler from going any further.
19 seconds behind the “Green Mamba” was Robin Frijns in his Audi R8 LMS. The Dutch driver languishing with an injured knee, but doing a fantastic job to fight his way up to 2nd place, passing Will Stevens just after the pit stops. The Brit held Frijns off for a while but with Fresher Tyres Robin lunged up the inside at Druids stealing second from the number 2 car.
In 3rd was the #2 Audi driven by Marcus Winklehock and Will Stevens. Marcus brought the car into the pits in 7th, the WRT Squad doing what they do best and delivering a nimble service promoting their car up to 3rd (at the time.) The Belgian Audi Boys had a bit of assistance when two cars running ahead of them collided in the pit-lane. The #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes and the #99 Rowe Racing BMW making considerable contact forcing both cars into retirement. The day got even more sour for Rowe Racing with their #98 car loosing major ground after the pit stops and seemed to be struggling for pace.
Just outside the podium was the silent assassin, HTP and their #85 car. Fabian Schiller sharing the AMG with Jules Szymkowiak. Jules started the Qualifying race from Plum Last, but after making up 27 positions between the two races, the Merc crossed the line Fourth. Unfortunately, because of contact with the #75 ISR Audi earlier in the race, the young duo received a 30 second time penalty which dropped them to 17th. All their efforts flushed down the toilet.
Benefiting from HTP’s miss fortunes was Markus Palttala and Jesse Krohn, Palttala had a solid first stint and set the #98 Rowe Racing BMW up for a strong finish. They lost a fair chunk of time in the pits and Jesse had a frustrating out lap struggling on cold tyres. In the closing stages of the race, Krohn got his composure back and did what we all know him for. He fought his way back up to fifth and with the HTP car receiving its time penalty, they got a free position.
Next across the line was another member of the four rings. Dries Vanthoor and Marcel Fassler in their grey and red Audi R8 LMS. The Brands Hatch layout not particularly favouring the manufacture from Ingolstadt but the drivers making the best of the situation with some good results among the represented teams.
Trailing the Audi was a Benz. One we are very familiar with. Maxi Buhk and Franck Perera brought their AMG across the line in 6th Position. The #84 car dominated the last sprint round all the way back in Misano, but they were definitely struggling for pace across this weekend. Franck Perera making the switch from ISR last year to the much loved HTP Motorsport gang at the beginning of the 2017 season.
The Silver Cup was taken out by Strakka Racing and their #42 car. The number 85 HTP Merc was on course to take the class victory but the 30 second time penalty knocked them back to 17th, handing the win to Strakka. Lewis Williamson bringing the McLaren 650s across the line 12th overall and stealing the Silver Cup points lead.
The next round of the championship leads the Blancpain Circus to Silverstone, just a hop, skip and a jump from Brands Hatch. “The Home of British Motor racing” hosting the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Championship.