Blancpain Endurance Series Nurburgring – race
After the cloudy weather during the qualifying sessions, sun was shining for the race at Nurgurnging short circuit this afternoon. Lamborghini has won the pole position but Mercedes, Bentley and Nissan qualified high. The race stared at 14:45 CET with rolling start of more than 40 cars. Start of the race went without any incidents but Lamborghini started rather poor and was passed by Nissan before the first turn. Craig Dolby in Nissan started very good and took the lead which grew to over 5 second by lap 10. The Huracan GT3 was on second place with Mercedes on third, but very soon, another Nissan passed Mercedes for third place. On fifth and sixth were two Bentleys with good pace and chance for attack. It looked like everybody else are faster than Lamborghini but Huracan protected its position well.
However, half an hour into the race, safety car went on the track because of gravel, destroying Craig Dolby’s lead. The Lamborghini and the rest of the field were close behind him and his effort to lose them was gone. After a few laps, the safety car was gone and Nissan was again on the path of loosing Lamborghini, Mercedes and Bentley. Craig Dolby slowly started moving away from the rest. Just moments after, another incident between Nissan and Mercedes caused yellow flag but no safety car. Some teams used this period to do pit stops which was a gamble made too early into the race.
After an hour of the race, the time has come for drivers’ change and pit stops. That mixed up standing among the top of the grid and Lamborghini stared leading the race with Audi in second and Nissan in third. Nissan team had changed mechanics and cars had been sent to USA for maintenance which resulted in their increased speed and dynamics. It was obvious that those GT-R GT3 Nismos are equally fast if not fastest than Audi or Bentley. During the second hour, the race was steady with no major position changes but by the end of the second hour one of Bentleys from the back of the grid hit the barrier hard and spread debris all over the track. Fortunately, driver wasn’t hurt. Safety car was deployed while track was cleared.
As the third hour approached, drivers were getting ready for pit stops and driver change. Laurens Vanthoor was in black Audi R8 LMS Ultra and chasing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and Audi couldn’t pass Lamborghini as the race entered its third hour. After a few intense laps, Vanthoor has managed to pass Lamborghini but hit it a little bit with his front end, in a slightly controversial maneuver that was but without reaction from race officials. All drivers had difficult time because of traffic and encountering drivers who are a lap behind. McLaren with Kevin Estre was on the first place well in front of the rest of the grid. A very intense championship battle was fought between Nissan and Bentley for PRO championship team title. The Nissan on second and Bentley on third were bumper to bumper for whole last hour until Bentley managed to pass Nissan who wasn’t able to react since it was blocked by BMW running a lap behind. Bentley used the gap and took the second position and chances of championship. However, track officials decided that the pass was illegal since Bentley and Nissan had a small contact during the pass. So Nissan and Bentley switched places and Bentley had to do it again. Two laps later, Bentley passed Nissan cleanly and took the second place, 10 minutes before the race end. But when the third hour of the race passed, McLaren with with Kevin Estre, one of best endurance drivers today, was first, Bentley second and Nissan third with Laurens Vanthoor in Audi in fourth place. Click HERE for full results.