McLaren's Bell/Ledogar/van Gisbergen win Blancpain Endurance title

The Garage 59 McLaren crew claimed the Blancpain Endurance title by one point, as Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Iniechen and Christian Engelhart took Lamborghini's first 2016 victory at the Nurburgring

McLaren's Bell/Ledogar/van Gisbergen win Blancpain Endurance title

Rob Bell, Come Ledogar and Shane van Gisbergen will share the title despite van Gisbergen missing the finale because of the Supercars Championship's clashing Sandown 500, as his team-mates failed to score in the race where they clinched the crown.

After Bortolotti stormed from fifth to the lead in the opening stint, Blancpain GT Series debutant Engelhart's comfortable five-second margin over Laurens Vanthoor's WRT Audi evaporated when the safety car was required to repair barrier damage caused by Louis Machiels' Attempto Lamborghini.

Despite unrelenting pressure from Vanthoor in the closing laps, Engelhart held firm to win by 0.3 seconds in the Grasser team's first victory since Monza 2015.

"It was a really hard race, but all thanks to Mirko who did a fantastic job at the start and gained us all the positions into the lead," said Engelhart.

"My job was to bring it home and it was a tough fight, he challenged me a lot, but it was a lot of fun also and I'm very happy to bring it home for the whole team."

Lucas Ordonez, Mitsunori Takaboshi and Alex Buncombe brought Nissan's podium drought to an end in third, ensuring the fourth-placed HTP Mercedes of Maxi Buhk, Dominik Baumann and Jazeman Jaafar fell just short of the points total needed to overhaul Garage 59 McLaren pair Bell and Ledogar for the title.

Fighting back from a tough qualifying session disrupted by red flags, Bell endured an uncharacteristically eventful opening stint and was hit with a drive-through penalty after making contact with Marco Bonanomi's Sainteloc Audi and the Attempto Lamborghini of Daniel Zampieri in separate incidents.

Bell and Ledogar's woes were compounded when van Gisbergen's stand-in driver Duncan Tappy was turned around by Luciano Bacheta and had to make an out-of-sequence pitstop to repair a right-rear puncture.

This meant they were not in control of their own destiny and would only finish 30th in the race.

But despite a nervy final few minutes for Garage 59, Buncombe's third place was enough to deliver its drivers the title.

The Black Pearl Racing Ferrari of Daniel Keilwitz and Alexander Mattschull was one of several cars to benefit from pitting under a full course yellow and took Pro-Am honours in an excellent fifth overall, ahead of the polesitting Grasser Lamborghini of Luca Stolz, Michele Beretta and Andrea Piccini.

The #8 Bentley of Maxime Soulet, Wolfgang Reip and Andy Soucek slipped out of title contention during a difficult middle stint for Reip before finishing 19th.

Spa 24 Hour winners Alexander Sims and Philipp Eng's title chances were scuppered by qualifying 39th, but they recovered to finish 10th with team-mate Nicky Catsburg.

RESULTS - 85 LAPS:

Pos Class Driver Team Car Gap
1 Pro R.Ineichen, C.Engelhart, M.Bortolotti GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini 3h00m08.036s
2 Pro D.Vanthoor, F.Vervisch, L.Vanthoor Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi 0.351s
3 Pro L.Ordonez, M.Takaboshi, A.Buncombe Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan 1.997s
4 Pro D.Baumann, J.Jaafar, M.Buhk AMG - Team HTP Motorsport Mercedes 15.307s
5 Pro-Am S.Parrow, A.Mattschull, D.Keilwitz Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 39.288s
6 Pro A.Piccini, L.Stolz, M.Beretta GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini 39.934s
7 Pro J.Hirschi, C.Klien, N.Siedler Emil Frey Racing Jaguar 43.269s
8 Pro S.Leonard, M.Meadows, R.Frijns Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi 44.150s
9 Pro G.Smith, V.Abril, S.Kane Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley 44.612s
10 Pro A.Sims, P.Eng, N.Catsburg Rowe Racing BMW 48.443s
11 Pro F.Salaquarda, F.Stippler, M.Stockinger ISR Audi 48.894s
12 Pro G.Guilvert, M.Parisy, C.Haase Sainteloc Audi 49.047s
13 Pro S.Asch, L.Ludwig, N.Rogivue Zakspeed Mercedes 49.582s
14 Pro-Am M.Broniszewski, A.Bonacini, A.Rizzoli Kessel Racing Ferrari 1m04.116s
15 Pro S.Dusseldorp, M.Tomczyk, T.Blomqvist Rowe Racing BMW 1m04.507s
16 Pro-Am F.Perera, P.Giauque, H.Hassid ISR Audi 1m07.264s
17 Pro-Am D.Cameron, M.Griffin AF Corse Ferrari 1m08.160s
18 Pro H.Haupt, A.Simonsen, A.Christodoulou Black Falcon Mercedes 1m21.921s
19 Am M.Ricci, J-L.Beaubelique, G.Vannelet Akka ASP Team Mercedes 1m50.644s
20 Pro M.Soulet, A.Soucek, W.Reip Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley 2m11.292s
21 Pro-Am O.Morley, M.Toril, M.Engel Black Falcon Mercedes 1 Lap
22 Pro C.Mamerow, P.Niederhauser, D.Zampieri Attempto Racing Lamborghini 1 Lap
23 Pro-Am M.Beretta, G.Berton, A.Frassineti Ombra Racing Lamborghini 1 Lap
24 Pro-Am L.Machitski, P.Keen, M.Mapelli Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini 1 Lap
25 Pro I.Dontje, C.Schmid, L.Bacheta HTP Motorsport Mercedes 1 Lap
26 Pro-Am A.Al Harthy, D.Modell, J.Adam Oman Racing Team Aston Martin 1 Lap
27 Pro-Am C.Zochling, J.Gounon, H.Still Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini 1 Lap
28 Pro-Am S.Comandini, M.Koebolt, S.Colombo BMW Team Italia BMW 1 Lap
29 Pro A.De Leener, B.Barnicoat, P.Kaffer Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi 1 Lap
30 Pro D.Tappy, C.Ledogar, R.Bell Garage 59 McLaren 1 Lap
31 Pro-Am M.Simmons, R.Sarazin, S.Walkinshaw Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan 1 Lap
32 Pro P.Lathouras, M.Rugolo, A.P.Guidi AF Corse Ferrari 1 Lap
33 Pro-Am E.Hankey, S.Yoluc, B.Ellis Black Falcon Mercedes 1 Lap
34 Am D.Pierce, C.Harris Team Parker Racing Bentley 1 Lap
35 Pro-Am O.Grotz, K.Ojjeh, J.Darras Boutsen Ginion Racing BMW 1 Lap
36 Am P.Ehret, R.Salikhov Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 1 Lap
37 Pro-Am M.Ishikawa, L.Bontempelli, O.Beretta AF Corse Ferrari 2 Laps
38 Am P.Mann, F.Guedes, R.Mastronardi AF Corse Ferrari 2 Laps
39 Am C.Sdanewitsch, S.Lemeret, T.Kemenater AF Corse Ferrari 2 Laps
40 Pro-Am A.Weishaupt, H.Felbermayr Jr., M.Basseng Car Collection Motorsport Audi 2 Laps
41 Pro-Am T.Cornac, M.Jaminet, R.Narac IMSA Performance Porsche 2 Laps
42 Pro-Am D.Perfetti, L.Cazenave, M.Lyons Akka ASP Team Mercedes 3 Laps
43 Am M.Zanuttini, V.Gitlin, L.Talbot Kessel Racing Ferrari 3 Laps
44 Pro-Am C.Kelders, M.Rostan, M.Bonanomi Sainteloc Audi 3 Laps
45 Am L-F.Soenen, A.Detavernier, J.M.Balbiani Sports & You Mercedes 5 Laps
46 Pro R.Baptista, S.Jimenez, A.Tambay Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi 14 Laps
47 Pro-Am C.Mateu, J.Haring, N.Armindo Attempto Racing Porsche 14 Laps
48 Am A.Moiseev, D.Rizzo Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari 16 Laps
49 Pro-Am L.Machiels, M.van Splunteren, J.Mul Attempto Racing Lamborghini 26 Laps
- Pro L.Frey, S.Ortelli, A.Costa Emil Frey Racing Jaguar Retirement
- Pro C.De Phillippi, W.Stevens, C.Mies Audi Sport Team WRT Audi Retirement
- Am B.Delhez, C.Hamon, R.Brandela Classic & Modern Racing Ferrari Retirement
- Pro S.Moore, A.Fontana, A.Watson Garage 59 McLaren Retirement
- Am M.Konopka, A.Lewandowski, T.Myszkowski ARC Bratislava Lamborghini Not started

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