There was immediate drama at the start of the qualifying race in Zandvoort. While polesitter Maxi Buhk took advantage of the straight line speed of his Bentley, behind him the other contenders for the top positions were heading into Tarzan corner two abreast. When the rear of his #1 Audi stepped out, series leader Robin Frijns failed to keep his car under control and slipped backwards into the gravel trap. Since the #74 ISR Audi went off as well, a safety car intervention was unavoidable. Frijns was pulled out of the gravel trap and was able to rejoin, albeit a lap down and in last position.
After the restart Maxi Buhk quickly opened up a gap again, with Nicki Thiim (#2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT) battling with Norbert Siedler (#333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari) for second. Meanwhile, Frijns' position marginally improved when the #4 Audi of Frank Stippler retired and the Dutchman climbed up to 15th. However, he would not get any higher, and team-mate Mies will have to start the final race of 2015 from the last row.
At the front, the driver changes had no immediate influence on the positions of the top three cars, but at Rinaldi Racing the pitstop of the #333 Ferrari did not completely go according to the rules. A drive-through penalty was given, but considering he had quite an advantage over the following drivers, Jeroen Bleekemolen only dropped one position, finishing the race in fourth. That means that Rinaldi driver Norbert Siedler still has a chance of claiming the drivers' title, but he will need at least a podium finish to do so.
By winning the qualifying race, Maxi Buhk and Vincent Abril now lead the driver standings going into the last main race. They have a one-point advantage over Robin Frijns, whose year-long team-mate Laurens Vanthoor now has lost his last theoretical chance of taking the title. Norbert Siedler has to make up a 14-point deficit.
In the Silver Cup the Bentley of Max Van Splunteren and Jules Szymkowiak had to start from the back of the field, but the dynamic Dutch duo used the top speed of their #83 Team HTP Bentley to climb all the way up to seventh overall. In Pro-Am Cup the #70 GT Russian SLS of Indy Dontje and Alexei Karachev looked set for a top-10 finish as well, but a considerable time loss at the pitstop made the yellow car drop back and finish in 13th overall.
Maxi Buhk (#84 Bentley Team HTP): "My main focus was to have a good start and to stay out of trouble. Afterwards I tried to drive as consistently as I could, trying not to push too hard from the beginning, to avoid having a mid-stint slump. It was a perfect day, but we still have one day to go tomorrow. It is not done yet."
Frederic Vervisch (#2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT): "I cannot remember the last time I stood on a podium at this level. We fought really hard, but it was difficult to be quicker than the Bentley. I am very happy with this result of course, but our aim is to help the #1 car. For sure, it was not ideal today, but tomorrow we will push hard to get the best result possible."
Niki Mayr-Melnhof (#6 Phoenix Racing Audi): "I think I have improved a lot since last year, we were just a bit unlucky not to put it on the podium all the time. It's a tough championship, but I am happy to be part of it. Maybe tomorrow we can take advantage of the other cars fighting for the title to gain some more positions."
Jules Szymkowiak (#83 Bentley Team HTP): "I felt quite confident in the car, and I could push from the start. I felt I closed the gap to the others and had the confidence to try and gain some places on the starting grid for tomorrow's race. In the main race we will again give it our all to finish as high as possible."
Indy Dontje (#70 GT Russian Mercedes): "The level of the Blancpain Sprint Series is high, but it's tough racing. All the drivers are quick, which makes it very interesting. It's a cool competition."
Sunday, 11 October
Warm up 09:25-09:45
Main Race 13:00-14:00 (live)
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Blancpain - Innovation is our Tradition
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit. From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past ten years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 35 new calibres.
Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the sportive L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.
Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier
Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.
SRO Motorsports Group - The architect of modern GT Racing
SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.
In 2015, SRO promotes several championships and series, such as the Blancpain GT Series (with the Blancpain Sprint Series and the Blancpain Endurance Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa), the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and the newly-created GT Sports Club and Ultracar Sports Club. SRO Motorsports Group has various franchise agreements, including the GT4 European Series.
SRO Motorsports Group runs also the SRO Race Centre by MMC, a high-level technical centre at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.