Mercedes scores 1-2-3 at Blancpain GT Series season-opening race
The 2017 Blancpain GT Series started on Saturday evening at Misano World Circuit. The winners of the Sprint Cup qualifying race are Maximilian Buhk and Franck Perera, drivers of HTP Motorsport Mercedes #84.
Attempto Racing’s Lamborghini #66 started from pole position after Marco Mapelli set the fastest lap time in qualifying. Two Mercedes-AMGs were behind – HTP Motorsport’s #84 and Akka ASP’s #90 with Maxi Buhk and rookie Raffaele Marciello behind the wheels. The top 5 in qualifying was completed by the #86 HTP Motorsport’s Mercedes-AMG of Dominik Baumann and the #59 Strakka Racing’s McLaren of Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup champion Rob Bell.
The start of the one-hour night race was marked by a huge accident on the back straight. The race was red-flagged after no less than eight cars in the middle of the grid were involved in the big crash but some of the were able to return to the race. After some 20 minutes, the race was restarted with two formation laps behind the safety car.
The restart of the race was a bit shocking after leading Lamborghini went straight into the pit and allowed HTP Motorsport’s #84 to take a lead. Soon after, the #86 HTP’s Mercedes had a spun after having a contact with car #90 and dropped to the 20th position.
The reigning Blancpain GT Series champion Buhk did a great job and had a solid lead before leaving the seat of #84 Mercedes to Franck Perera. French driver later calmly kept an advantage to HTP’s Mercedes #85 of Fabian Schiller, Akka ASP’s #90 of Michael Meadows, and #63 Lamborghini of GRT Grasser Racing Team with Christian Engelhart as a driver.
The same Top 3 standings were at the end of the race, while Team M-Sport Bentley #7 finished 4th. Mercedes and particularly HTP Motorsport must be delighted with a perfect start of the campaign and they surely hope for more of the same in the race on Sunday (start 12.30 CET).