The #33 Audi took the chequered flag just 0.6s clear of the pole-sitting AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG after running nose-to-tail for much of the second stint, while Frederic Vervisch and Laurens Vanthoor made it two WRT-run R8s on the podium.
An accident on lap one involving the #101 Attempto Racing Lamborghini and #25 Sainteloc Racing Audi necessitated a short Full Course Yellow period. Pole-sitter Felix Rosenqvist had maintained his lead first time around and duly vaulted clear of the chasing pack once racing resumed when his nearest pursuer Mies struggled to get away.
Indeed, Rosenqvist’s advantage grew to as much as 3.8s over the following laps while he and Mies, who had hung on to second, traded fastest times. Their pace was such that Vanthoor - up to third after passing Dominik Baumann’s AMG-Team HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG at the restart - dropped back into a relatively lonely third.
The race really came alive just before the pit-stops when Mies unleashed several fast laps to close down his Swedish rival. Both opted to make their mandatory driver changes towards the end of the pit window; the Mercedes-AMG stopped one lap earlier than the chasing Audi, thus giving the German an extra opportunity to close down the lead.
And when Ide emerged from the pits just ahead of Vautier it was clear that WRT’s strategy and pit work had paid off.
It was not long before the pair were joined by Vervisch, who set the race’s fastest lap in pursuit of the top-two. But, having cruised on to their tail, he too was unable to find a way past. All three cars then circulated together, Vautier having to keep his eyes on his mirrors while also searching for a way past Ide whose defence remained resolute. Only once was the Mercedes-AMG able to sniff an opportunity, but despite running right up against the start/finish straight pit-wall there was no budging the Audi.
The trio were joined by Maxi Buhk in the closing laps after the AMG-Team HTP Motorsport driver - who shares his Mercedes-AMG with Baumann - was able to take advantage of the squabble up front. But he too was unable to capitalise despite trying a last lap move on Vervisch into Turn 1.
Jules Szymkowiak and Bernd Schneider’s Mercedes-AMG came home 3.2s further back in fifth after picking off Mike Parisy and Christopher Haase’s Sainteloc Racing Audi, which completed the points-paying positions in sixth.
Pro-Am was once again won by Michal Broniszewski and Giacomo Piccini’s Kessel Racing Ferrari, although victory was by no means straightforward. Team AKKA ASP’s Morgan Moullin-Traffort had led comfortably before being forced into the garage after 20 minutes, gifting the team’s sister Mercedes-AMG the lead. But Broniszewski was not to be denied and swept past during his final stint to make it six Sprint Cup victories for the #11 Ferrari 488 this season.
The Am Cup would have likely been won by David Perel and Stephen Earle were it not for the latter’s several track limits violations earning the Ferrari a drive-through penalty. That promoted Rino Mastronardi and Claudio Sdanewitsch to a lead that would ultimately become victory.
Elsewhere, Nicolaj Møller Madsen and Alessio Picariello converted their Silver Cup pole position into victory after finishing ninth overall, three places ahead of where they started.
Tomorrow’s full points-paying, hour-long Main Race gets underway at 12:30 local time. Watch it live on www.blancpain-gt-series.com/live.
Enzo Ide, #33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8: “I am delighted! It was quite hot in the car and Tristan [Vautier] got very close to me. But I did what I could. I had some trouble with the heat but managed to stay in front, so that was really good. I think we won the race again thanks to our pit-stop crew and the team because we came in running second and went back out in first. So thanks a lot to them; they made us win the race again today.”
Felix Rosenqvist, #88 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG: “We did what we could and had a good restart after the Full Course Yellow. We also managed to maintain the gap at the beginning before Chris [Mies] closed it a bit before the pit-stop. But when we came in for the stop the race got away from us. We need to see what went wrong but we lost a couple of seconds there. Then Tristan went out and had quite a good fight with Enzo but did not manage to pass him. It is generally quite tough to pass here. We are still very happy with second overall as we had not scored a podium this year. But we have always had good pace so it is quite rewarding for the team to have a good result finally.”
Frederic Vervisch, #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8: “We made an early pit-stop to try and make up some time. We also set some good lap times but that was not enough to gain positions and Enzo did a great job defending on a couple occasions. I could stay behind but was never really close enough to try something without a risk. Ultimately this is a qualifying race and tomorrow is what counts so third place is perhaps not what we hoped for but it is also not bad for tomorrow.”
Nicolaj Møller Madsen, #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8: “Alessio had a good race and strong pace; every time a car pitted in front of him he closed the gap with the car in front of that. The guys also made a good pit-stop and we managed to come out just in front of car #2, who we are fighting with for the Silver Cup. He stayed close to me but suddenly disappeared so the last four or five laps were a bit easer. I am so happy for the results, happy to be in the top-ten and looking forward to tomorrow because I think we had quite a good pace. I am also happy with my new team-mate!”
Giacomo Piccini, #11 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488: “It was not so easy here as we were struggling with our 488; the pace was not so good and the car was honestly not fast enough. I managed to have a very good start today, claimed some places and was recovering a little bit. Then we were a little bit lucky and Michal overtook car #89, which made the difference. Anyway, we are first so it is good. We are confident for tomorrow and we will try to do our best.”
Claudio Sdanewitsch, #55 AF Corse Ferrari 458: “It was important to finish the race and collect the points, but it was also nice to finish in first position. Obviously this is very important for the championship but we also want to do well. Hopefully we can do the same tomorrow.”
Sunday 28 August
09:00 – 09:20 : Warm up
12:30 - 13:30: Main Race
Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup info
• 2x free practice sessions
• 1x 55min qualifying session divided into three segments. Pole in each class receives one point
• 1x 60min qualifying race. Top-six finishers in each class receive 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 points
• 1x 60min main race. Grid decided by qualifying race finishing positions. Top-10 finishers in each class receive 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 points
• Driver and tyre changes must take place between 25 and 35 minutes in both races
• The Hungaroring is the fourth of five Sprint Cup rounds and eighth of 10 Blancpain GT Series events being staged in 2016
Follow all the action from Hungary live and for free via www.blancpain-gt-series.com/live
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