Blancpain GT: Marciello, Meadows are the Sprint Cup champions
The finale of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup took place this weekend at Nürburgring. Two crews that were fighting for the title clinched the victories in two races and, in the end, the Race 2 winners Raffaele Marciello and Michael Meadows (Akka ASP) became champions with a narrow margin ahead of Race 1 winners Christopher Mies and Alex Riberas (Belgian Audi Club Team WRT). Mies/Riberas finished 16th in the second race and didn’t score points, losing a title to the crew in the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
On Saturday, Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart initially won the race in the #63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Grasser Racing Team. But, they received a 30-second penalty after a TV footage subsequently showed that Engelhart was wearing his frontal head restraint over the shoulder straps of his harness, breaching Blancpain GT Series Sporting Regulations.
Further footage showed that, after the chequered flag, Engelhart removed his glove, unbuckled his harness, and removed the SD card from the driver-facing Onboard Safety Camera. Engelhart was then seen to destroy the SD card before returning to the pits. Furthermore, Engelhart’s car was found to not have an operating Onboard Safety Camera. As a result of all those actions, the #63 Lamborghini has been disqualified from the event.
The Race 1 victory went to the #1 Audi R8 LMS of Alex Riberas and Chris Mies. They shared a podium with Audi teammates Will Stevens/Dries Vanthoor and GRT’s Ezequiel Perez Companc and Andrea Caldarelli. Raffaele Marciello and Michael Meadows finished in the fourth place, earning valuable points ahead of Sunday’s final race.
They entered the race with a nine-point deficit, starting from the second place. They were chasing the victory while the fourth-place finish would be enough for the #1 Audi crew to take the title. They progressed from P13 on the grid to P5 and then, with five minutes to go, Riberas attacked Attempto Racing’s #66 Audi but went off to the gravel, suffered a puncture and lost a chance to earn points.
Michael Meadows defended his lead, took the victory and sealed the title. Luca Stolz/Hubert Haupt finished second in Black Falcon’s #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3. The podium was completed by Simon Gachet and Christopher Haase in the #25 Sainteloc Audi.
In the Pro-Am class, Markus Winkelhock and Niels Stievenart took the title in the #26 Sainteloc Audi. The Silver Cup champions are Nico Bastian and Jack Manchester in the #90 Akka ASP Mercedes.
The next event of the Blancpain GT Series is the final race of the Endurance Cup at Barcelona on September 30. The race would also decide an overall champion. Raffaele Marciello is leading in the overall standings ahead of Chris Mies and Alex Riberas.
Photos: Patrick Hecq,