1 car every 105 metres. That was the stat that governed the whole weekend. The 2nd round of the Blancpain Endurance Championship was hosted at the well distinguished Silverstone Circuit; it was a race that had everything. From crashes, to cars getting black flagged & an incredible battle for the lead that went on for over an hour!
All bets were off as the cars lined up in “Noah’s Ark” Formation and trundled onto the start/finish straight. If there was a tension meter in the cockpits it would have been through the roof. But all 55 drivers had to hold in those butterflies for a bit longer, as an extra formation lap was called. They managed to get it right the second time around and somewhere in the range of 30 000 horsepower blasted down towards Copes Corner. Mirko Bortolotti, who started on the outside of the front row swooped into the lead taking first position for Grasser Racing.
After everything that we went through during the 3hr race. It came down to 3 tenths of a second! The bright green Lamborghini of Christian Engelhart, Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli crossed the line just 0.344 in front of Maxi Buhk in his #84 HTP Mercedes AMG. It was a matter of chop and change as we headed into the final 2 hours. Before the final pit stops, Michael Meadows, Christian Engelhart and Jimmy Eriksson were all tussling it out for the lead, but the order shifted once again when the respective crews went to work.
They peeled into the pits nose to tail. #90 ahead of #84 ahead of #63. Immediately it was made clear that the hundreds of hours the Grasser squad have spent practising pit stops had paid off. Christian Engelhart fired through the gears as he screamed down towards the Maggots and Beckets complex in the lead. Behind him Maximillian Buhk was catching up to Raffaele Marciello. The #90 AKKA Mercedes Driver not on par with pace. Marciello held fort for a number of laps as the top 4 darted in and out of traffic. Soon enough Maxime Soulet was on the back of them. The big Bentley sneaking its way up through the field to 5th position.
With all this pressure from behind, Engelhart had to focus on what was in front of him. He had to ignore the absolute dog fight that was taking place behind the #63. Maxi Buhk was like a fighter pilot sitting on the rear wing of the AKKA Mercedes, just waiting for the perfect opportunity. And boy did he seize it when it came. Marciello left the door wide open as he was lapping a Lamborghini, Buhk stuck his nose up the inside at the loop and held his line all the way down to Brooklands, snatching 2nd place from the #90 car.
In the final minutes the top 5 began to “Accordion” in the traffic. The gaps constantly changing as the traffic eb’d and flowed. Christian Engelhart did begin to clear off. But then… Maxi Buhk pressed the magic button on his wheel. Out of nowhere the #84 HTP Mercedes started to close down on the Grasser car. It was a game of cat and mouse. The next thing we knew, the 5 second cushion had evaporated and Buhk was challenging for the win. Engelhart resisted, and he resisted like it was life and death. In the dire minutes the #84 lunged up the inside of the Grasser car. But it was no use. Maximillian Buhk even had an extra lap to fancy his chances but Engelhart kept his cool under the immense pressure. The #63 car crossed the line just 3 tenths of a second ahead of the #84, The Grasser squad clinching their 3rd victory this season.
After what we just witnessed I have no idea how anything can top that! But next up the sprint cup leads the circuit to Zolder in Belgium. The weekend taking place from the 2nd to the 4th of June. See you then!