Customer Racing: Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe: Victorious weekend in Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe at Zandvoort

14.
July 2019
Zandvoort

The third season round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe saw Mercedes-AMG score its third overall win: at Zandvoort in the Netherlands, the AKKA ASP Team was first across the line with Vincent Abril (MON) and Raffaele Marciello (ITA). For the duo, it was the first overall victory of the season. Meanwhile, Luca Stolz and Maro Engel (both GER) of the BLACK FALCON team only just missed out on a podium finish in fourth place after a strong battle as Nico Bastian (GER) and Thomas Neubauer (FRA) secured second place in the Silver Cup. On Sunday, there were two further top ten results thanks to good performances by BLACK FALCON and AKKA ASP. As a result, Engel and Stolz remain in the lead of the sprint standings as Bastian and Neubauer are still on top in the Silver Cup.

  • Race one: P1 and P4 with AKKA ASP and BLACK FALCON
  • Race one: P2 in the Silver Cup with AKKA ASP
  • Points’ lead in the overall standings and the Silver Cup defended
  • Class wins in GT4 European Series

Zandvoort – In qualifying made difficult by changeable weather conditions, the Mercedes-AMG drivers laid the foundation for a successful race weekend: AKKA ASP Team’s Vincent Abril posted the fastest time of the first session with the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 and thus secured pole position for the race on Saturday. In second qualifying, Maro Engel of the BLACK FALCON team was classified third as the best-placed AMG and thus also got himself into a good grid position for the upcoming showdown on Sunday afternoon.

In the first race that got underway under a cloudy sky, but on a dry track, Abril confirmed his position as the favourite from qualifying. He led the field into the first few corners and the Monegasque also showed a strong performance after a safety car intervention and the subsequent restart in the early stages of the race. He was quickly able to establish an advantage of around one second and commandingly held on to it until the pit stop around the halfway point of the race. The AKKA ASP Team also showed all its skills and brought Raffaele Marciello back into the race with an even bigger margin. After a faultless stint, the Italian was first across the finish line, over eight seconds clear to bring a dominant lights-to-flag victory home for the team.

There almost was a double podium for the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach, but after 60 minutes of racing, Luca Stolz and Maro Engel only just missed out on third place by a few metres. After a fierce duel, in which Engel in particular shone with a strong performance including the fastest race lap in the second half, the team was classified fourth, adding further valuable points in the battle for the title. On the other hand, things were less favourable for Felipe Fraga (BRA) and Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS) of the AKKA ASP Team: the duo looked on course for victory in the Silver Cup for the best part of the race, until Boguslavskiy came off the track with two minutes remaining. As a result, the team lost chances of victory that had been up for grabs and the car was damaged beyond repair, leaving it sidelined from the second race. As a result of this retirement, the AKKA ASP sister car was able to move up in the Silver Cup: Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer finished second in class and ninth overall with starting number 89.

The second race on Sunday got underway with several formation laps after a car got stuck on the first formation lap. This seemed to be making some drivers nervous, resulting into penalties because of jump starts. Subsequently, the field settled down and there were only few overtaking manoeuvres at Circuit Zandvoort.

In the #4 car, starting driver Maro Engel staged a close fight for second place overall, but turned out to be unable to find a way past the slightly slower car in front of him. After the pit stop, the BLACK FALCON GT3 also rejoined the race in what initially was fourth place behind its rival. The #88 AKKA ASP car with Abril/Marciello, on the other hand, was able to benefit from its pit stop, moving up from ninth to sixth place. All in all, it was a race that didn’t see a lot of action in the front-running group and there were no more changes until the finish: after 35 laps, Engel/Stolz finished fourth and Abril/Marciello came sixth. Only Nico Bastian was able to make a few overtaking manoeuvres in the second half of the race and still improved to twelfth place overall that equalled fourth place in the Silver Cup.

In the championship standings, the Mercedes-AMG teams and drivers are still in promising positions: Maro Engel and Luca Stolz are in the lead of the overall Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe standings, 8.5 points clear of their nearest rivals. Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer also defend their Silver Cup points lead with their results from Zandvoort.

The next round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe will be taking place at the Nürburgring from 30 August-1 September and already is the penultimate sprint event of the season prior to the finale at the Hungaroring (6-8 September).

Class success in the GT4 European Series

In the GT4 European Series, the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams were also able to score good results at Circuit Zandvoort. Marcus Paverud (NOR) and Luca Trefz (GER), racing for Leipert Motorsport, finished first in the Pro-Am class in the second race on Sunday ahead of Kay van Berlo (NED) and Angélique Detavernier (BEL), who rounded out the double podium in second place. In the AM class, the Selleslagh Racing Team with Alessandro Giovanelli (ITA) and Bob Herber (NED) secured the class win on Saturday and added a second-place finish on Sunday. Finally, Max Koebolt (NED) and Jan Kisiel (POL) rounded out the successful race weekend with fourth and fifth place in the two 60-minute races with their Leipert Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4, adding valuable championship points. Koebolt/Kisiel remain in the lead of the Silver Cup standings, Paverud/Trefz remain on top in Pro-AM. The next and final round of the GT4 European Series at the Nürburgring from 30 August-1 September will decide the championship battles.

Vincent Abril, AKKA ASP Team #88: “I love this race track. So far, things haven’t really been going well for us this season, so it was about time. We had high expectations, but in racing, you can’t always exactly plan things. However, we do know that we have a super team behind us that laid the foundation for our success this weekend. Things were going perfectly for me in qualifying already with pole position, which boosted my confidence. The race went super and everybody has done a faultless job. Racing with Lello and in this team is great fun. We are very happy!”

Raffaele Marciello, AKKA ASP Team #88: “So far, this year hasn’t been easy for us. This victory therefore is a very good motivation for the remaining races. On Saturday, I have to say that it wasn’t too difficult for me as the cars behind me were slowing down each other with their position fights. Vincent handed the car to me with a good lead and the team has done a super job as well by making up some more time during the pit stop. Eventually, the only thing I had to do was to bring victory home.”

Maro Engel, BLACK FALCON #4: “A pair of fourth places, that means valuable points for us. On one hand, it is a pity as we probably could have done a little bit better, because our pace was very good throughout the weekend. Here my thanks to the team for the great job and the super car. Unfortunately, due to the mixed conditions in qualifying, we were unable to get ourselves into a better grid position. All in all, however, we are happy with the point score and we are looking forward to the season highlight at Spa in a fortnight.”

Luca Stolz, BLACK FALCON #4: “Not an optimal weekend, but a pair of fourth places is okay for us with a view to the championship, even though, basically, our ambitions are higher. In race one, we slightly lost out at the start, but we made up during the pit stop. In the second race, on the other hand, we lost some time during the stop. But we have defended our championship lead and we have to remain focussed as Spa is already coming up as the next highlight.”

Nico Bastian, AKKA ASP Team #89: “We have a difficult qualifying and as a result, it was very difficult in the race as well as Zandvoort provides little opportunity for overtaking. Nevertheless, we have achieved our goal: we have scored valuable points for the Silver Cup and extended out points’ lead. We hope to be starting further up again in the next races so that better results will follow again, too.”

Results Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe, Zandvoort, race 1*:

Pos.

Pos.

class

Nr.

class

Car

Team

Drivers

1.

1.

88

Pro

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Vincent Abril (MON), Raffaele Marciello (ITA)

2.

2.

63

Pro

Lamborghini Huracan GT3 2019

GRT Grasser

Racing Team

Mirko Bortolotti (ITA), Christian Engelhart (GER)

3.

3.

563

Pro

Lamborghini Huracan GT3 2019

Orange 1 FFF Racing Team

Andrea Caldarelli (ITA), Marco Mapelli (ITA)

4.

4.

4

Pro

Mercedes-AMG GT3

BLACK FALCON

Luca Stolz (GER), Maro Engel (GER)

 

 

 

 

 

9.

2.

89

Silver Cup

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Nico Bastian (GER), Thomas Neubauer (FRA)

23.

4.

87

Pro-Am

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Jim Pla (FRA), Mauro Ricci (ITA)

26.

8.

90

Silver Cup

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS), Felipe Fraga (BRA)

Race 2*:

Pos.

Pos.

class

Nr.

class

Car

Team

Drivers

1.

1.

25 Pro

Audi R8 LMS GT3

Sainteloc Racing

Simon Gachet (FRA), Christopher Haase (GER)

2.

2.

63

Pro

Lamborghini Huracan GT3 2019

GRT Grasser Racing Team

Mirko Bortolotti (ITA), Christian Engelhart (GER)

3.

3.

1 Pro

Audi R8 LMS GT3

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

Dries Vanthoor (BEL), Ezequiel Perez Companc (ARG)

4.

4.

4

Pro

Mercedes-AMG GT3

BLACK FALCON

Maro Engel (GER), Luca Stolz (GER)

 

 

 

 

 

6.

6.

88

Pro

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Vincent Abril (MON), Raffaele Marciello (ITA)

12.

4.

89

Silver Cup

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Nico Bastian (GER), Thomas Neubauer (FRA)

22.

5.

87

Pro-Am

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Jim Pla (FRAU, Mauro Ricci (ITA)

DNS

DNS

90

Silver Cup

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS), Felipe Fraga (BRA)

* subject to confirmation by the organisers

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  • 19C0603_001
    Winners race 1: Vincent Abril (middle left) and Raffaele Marciello
  • 19C0603_002
    #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
  • 19C0603_003
    4 Mercedes-AMG GT3, BLACK FALCON
  • 19C0603_004
    #89 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
  • 19C0603_005
    #87 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
  • 19C0603_006
    #90 und #89 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
  • 19C0603_007
    #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3, BLACK FALCON
  • 19C0603_008
    #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
  • 19C0603_009
    Raffaele Marciello, Jérôme Policand (team manager AKKA ASP), Vincent Abril
  • 19C0603_010
    #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3, BLACK FALCON
  • 19C0603_012
    #89 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
  • 19C0603_011
    #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
  • 19C0603_013
    #87 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
  • 19C0603_014
    #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP Team
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