Baku FIA GT: Rast and Mayr-Melnhof win qualifying race for WRT Audi
|By Gary Watkins||Sunday, November 24th 2013, 08:46 GMT|
WRT Audi drivers Rene Rast and Niki Mayr-Melnhof claimed victory in the qualifying race in the FIA GT Series finale on the streets of Baku.
The duo's Audi R8 LMS ultra dominated a race that started behind the safety car and was interrupted by another yellow-flag period and then a race stoppage after a track blockage.
Rast, who had qualified on pole, pulled away from team-mate Laurens Vanthoor in the opening stages, opening a gap of more than eight seconds before the mandatory mid-race pitstops.
Mayr-Melnhof resumed in the lead, but an advantage of 19s over Stephane Ortelli in the second WRT Audi disappeared when the safety car came out while a stranded car was retrieved.
A red flag followed almost immediately when Cesar Campanico in the Novadriver Audi crashed at Turn 5 and dislodged a stack of tyres.
Just under 15 minutes were left on the clock when the race resumed.
Mayr-Melnhof was able to pull away from Ortelli, who fought a rear-guard action to stay ahead of Rob Bell in the Hexis McLaren MP4-12C he shared with Kevin Estre.
Rast said: "The car was just amazing. Though the corners, it was like a knife going through butter."
Mayr-Melnhof added: "There was a lot of pressure on me. I tried not to overdo it and stay calm."
Ortelli hung on to second, finishing 1.2s down, to extend his and Vanthoor's championship lead ahead of the season-closing championship race this afternoon.
Bell and Estre took third ahead of the best of the Boutsen McLarens shared by Stef Dusseldorp and Alexander Sims.
The result means that Ortelli and Vanthoor's series lead now stands at eight points.
They scored six points for second, but their nearest title rivals and WRT team-mates Edward Sandstrom and Frank Stippler took three points for finishing fourth of the registered Pro Cup entrants in eighth place overall.
The invitational entries from Hexis, Boutsen and Marc VDS, which finished third, fourth and fifth, are not eligible for points at this event.
HTP Gravity Charouz drivers Andreas Simonsen and Sergei Afanasiev (pictured) took the Pro-Am class in their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG with seventh place overall to seal the title.
Results - 32 laps (inc red flag): Pos Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Mayr-Melnhof/Rast WRT Audi 1h14m26.088s 2. Ortelli/Vanthoor WRT Audi +1.226s 3. Bell/Estre Hexis McLaren +2.190s 4. Sims/Dusseldorp Boutsen McLaren +2.787s 5. Catsburg/Martin Marc VDS BMW +5.710s 6. Loeb/Parente Loeb McLaren +6.859s 7. Afanasiev/Simonsen Gravity Charouz Mercedes +7.761s 8. Stippler/Sandstrom WRT Audi +7.986s 9. Khodair/Bueno Brasil BMW +8.606s 10. Winkelhock/Ide Phoenix Audi +9.317s 11. Tandy/Holzer Trackspeed Porsche +10.498s 12. Vervisch/Vandoorne Boutsen McLaren +11.819s 13. Buhk/Day Gravity Charouz Mercedes +12.215s 14. Cunha/Stumpf Rodrive Lamborghini +22.513s 15. Webb/Hetherington Fortec Mercedes +40.205s 16. Zonta/Jimenez Brasil BMW +40.324s 17. Demoustier/Albuquerque WRT Audi +46.554s 18. Sdanewitsch/Leo AF Ferrari +1m16.134s 19. Thomas/Melnikov MRS McLaren +1 lap 20. Hassid/Beltoise TDS BMW +2 laps 21. Sladecka/Rosina Grasser Lamborghini +4 laps Retirements: Campanico/Ammermuller Novadriver Audi 21 laps Baumann/Proczyk Grasser Lamborghini 13 laps Ragginger/Watts Trackspeed Porsche 8 laps Charouz/Janis Gravity Charouz Mercedes 8 laps Soucek/Turvey MRS McLaren 8 laps Zuber/Parisy Loeb McLaren 4 laps