Dries Vanthoor and Marcel Fässler have claimed victory in the Qualifying Race at the Blancpain GT Sprint Cup round at the Hugaroring, continuing on a perfect weekend for the #5 WRT Audi squad.
Their combined performance was un-stoppable all day, after sticking the car on pole position earlier in Qualifying, and taking the win ahead of Christian Engelhart and Mirko Bortolotti in the Grasser Racing Lamborghini.
Pieter Schothorst and Jake Dennis charged to third place early on, holding off the #84 HTP Mercedes of Franck Perera and Maximilian Buhk in the closing stages.
Stuart Leonard and Robin Frijns rounded out the top five in the yellow nosed, #17 WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3.
The opening stint of the 60-minute race was dominated by Vanthoor, the young Belgium driver opened up an enormous gap early on, extending it to five seconds before the pitstops.
His WRT team-mate, Dennis in the #3 Audi moved up into the top three on the first lap, edging past Buhk in the #84 car, who fell down to fifth just behind a charging Frijns, in the #17 WRT Audi.
At the same time, Jules Gounon behind the wheel of the #87 Mercedes was under major pressure from Christopher Mies in the #1 Audi.
After a number of laps squabbling, Mies ran wide at turn three, losing momentum and surrendering his seventh place to Andy Soucek in the #8 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3.
When the compulsory pit-stop window opened, Buhk was first to dive in handing his #84 HTP Mercedes-AMG GT3 to Perera, while other front-running cars elected to stay out longer.
A rapid stop by the Grasser Racing crew meant the #63 Lamborghini – now in the hands of Engelhart – rejoined just two seconds behind the race leading Audi.
When Vanthoor came in to hand over to Fässler, the Swiss driver had one task for the remaining 25-minutes, stay in front of Engelhart, who sat on his gearbox until the chequered flag.
Elsewhere on track, there was a titanic scrap for the Pro-Am bragging rights, as Rinaldi Racing’s Alexander Mattschull closed in on Gounon’s team-mate Jean-Luc Beaubelique.
The Frenchman held his German rival off for a couple of laps until the #333 Ferrari muscled its way past at Turn 3.
Up front though, Fässler held off Bortolotti and took his and Vanthoor’s first win of the season.
The #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Daniel Keilwitz and Mattschull claimed the Pro-Am honours, after the latter overtook the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes with 5-minutes remaining.
The Silver Cup victory went to Fabian Schiller and Jules Szymkowiak, who picked up an important class win to extend their points lead aboard the #85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes.
Dries Vanthoor, #5 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS:“The car was great and every lap a pleasure to drive. I hope we can keep the momentum going for Sunday. That said, every start is different and anything can happen. We are not fighting for the championship so we won’t ruin anybody’s race.”
Marcel Fässler, #5 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS: “Dries [Vanthoor] was on new tyres and I wasn’t, so I knew he could go a bit faster at the beginning. I saw Christian [Engelhart] was closing the gap but it’s another thing to overtake. I’d like to thank the entire WRT team. It had not been the easiest season for us until this weekend so I am delighted with the result and we’re looking forward to the Main Race on Sunday.”
Vanthoor and Fässler will start from pole position in the Main Race on Sunday.