Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer take Blancpain Brands Hatch victory

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

Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer take Blancpain Brands Hatch victory

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

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
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

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