Silver Cup competitors Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer took a sensational Blancpain win in the Brands Hatch season-opener in a Akka ASP Mercedes, having seized the lead during the pitstops.
Reigning Silver Cup champion Bastian ran a close third from the off in his #89 Mercedes, behind poleman and reigning Endurance Cup champion Luca Stolz, who led from the off in his Black Flacon Mercedes, and second-placed Mirko Bortolotti in the Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan.
However the AKKA ASP Mercedes leapfrogged them both with a brilliant 43.2s stop, the fastest of the race at that point. This left Neubauer in the lead, which he kept under pressure despite his shortage of experience in this category.
The second-placed Black Falcon, which Maro Engel took over for the second stint, closed in on Neubauer's tail with 15 minutes of the hour-long race remaining but was not able to get in a position to pass. Neubauer then edged clear in the final minutes to win by two seconds.
The Lamborghini in third, which was crashed by Bortolotti in yesterday's qualifying, fell away in the second stint in Christian Engelhart's hands. It finished in that place 10s shy of the winner.
AKKA ASP's reigning drivers' champion driver, ex-Ferrari and Sauber Formula 1 tester Raffaele Marciello, finished fourth in a Mercedes, passing Clemens Schmid's Attempto Racing #66 Audi for the place with a minute to go.
Schimd, paired with Kelvin van der Linde, finished fifth, just ahead of McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner Tom Gamble in the #17 WRT Silver Cup Audi, who'd taken over from Shae Davies.
The Pro-Am Cup class was won by Rinaldi Racing's Rinat Salikhov and David Perel in a Ferrari 488.
The opening round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe season also kicks off a new era for what was formerly the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup. The championship also is now part of the global Blancpain GT World Challenge.
Several Audis were impeded by a multi-car first turn clash on lap 1. Attempto Racing's Steijn Schothorst in the #55 R8 and Phoenix Racing's Kim-Luis Schramm in the #5 R8 were out beached in the Paddock gravel. Sainteloc Racing's Steven Palette in the #26 R8 also retired in the pits at the end of the first lap with frontal damage while his team-mate Simon Gachet in its #25 R8 LMS and WRT's #1 R8 Ezequiel Perez Companc dropped to the back.
Orange1 FFF Racing's Andrea Caldarelli in the #563 Lamborghini Huracan, running in fifth, got a one-minute stop-go penalty for causing the incident, having made contact with Schothorst's R8. The penalty in effect cost Caldarelli a lap and he quit shortly afterwards to save tyres for the next race.
Perez Companc later got a drivethorugh penalty for lap time improvements under yellow, as did Gachet and Akka ASP's #90 Mercedes Timur Bogulavski.
Race one result
|1||N.Bastian, T.Neubauer||Akka ASP Team||Mercedes||39||1h00m16.998s|
|2||L.Stolz, M.Engel||Black Falcon||Mercedes||39||2.003s|
|3||C.Engelhart, M.Bortolotti||GRT Grasser Racing Team||Lamborghini||39||10.200s|
|4||V.Abril, R.Marciello||Akka ASP Team||Mercedes||39||20.847s|
|5||K.van der Linde, C.Schmid||Attempto Racing||Audi||39||22.103s|
|6||S.Davies, T.Gamble||Belgian Audi Club Team WRT||Audi||39||22.597s|
|7||R.Collard, M.Kirchhofer||R-Motorsport||Aston Martin||39||30.611s|
|8||F.Hutchison, F.Vervisch||Phoenix Racing||Audi||39||30.936s|
|9||R.Breukers, O.Tunjo||Belgian Audi Club Team WRT||Audi||39||34.404s|
|10||M.Dontje, M.Drudi||Attempto Racing||Audi||39||34.896s|
|11||E.P.Companc, D.Vanthoor||Belgian Audi Club Team WRT||Audi||39||41.399s|
|12||C.Weerts, C.Mies||Belgian Audi Club Team WRT||Audi||39||44.530s|
|13||R.Salikhov, D.Perel||Rinaldi Racing||Ferrari||39||1m01.161s|
|14||H.Hamaguchi, P.Keen||Orange 1 FFF Racing Team||Lamborghini||39||1m02.214s|
|15||T.Boguslavskiy, F.Schiller||Akka ASP Team||Mercedes||39||1m03.360s|
|16||S.Gachet, C.Haase||Sainteloc Junior Team||Audi||39||1m12.814s|
|17||J-L.Beaubelique, J.Pla||Akka ASP Team||Mercedes||39||1m18.635s|
|18||W.Triller, F.Scholze||Team HB Racing||Ferrari||38||1 Lap|
|19||T.Proto, D.Menchaca||Orange 1 FFF Racing Team||Lamborghini||32||7 Laps|
|-||A.Vainio, H.de Sadeleer||R-Motorsport||Aston Martin||18||Retirement|
|-||L.Machiels, A.Bertolini||Spirit of Race||Ferrari||10||Retirement|
|-||A.Caldarelli, M.Mapelli||Orange 1 FFF Racing Team||Lamborghini||9||Retirement|
|-||K-L.Schramm, F.Stippler||Phoenix Racing||Audi||0||Retirement|
|-||N.Stievenart, S.Ortelli||Sainteloc Junior Team||Audi||0||Withdrawn|
|-||S.Palette, M.Winkelhock||Sainteloc Junior Team||Audi||0||Retirement|
|-||S.Schothorst, N.Foster||Attempto Racing||Audi||0||Retirement|