Blancpain GT Sprint Series Cup, Round 1, Misano – Main Race:
Jake Dennis and Ben Barnicoat completed the opening weekend of the season with their respective Strakka Racing and WRT Audi squads, with Dennis’s Audi R8 LMS completing a stark turnaround to finish Sunday’s main race in 10th position.
Following a blight of mechanical woes earlier in the weekend which prevented any pre-race running, Dennis and his WRT Audi R8 LMS team-mate Pieter Schothorst began their repair job by finishing the previous day’s qualifying race in 14th position.
Schothorst began Sunday’s main race by gradually moving up four places into 10th position, tussling with the #59 Strakka Racing McLaren 650 S machine of Andrew Watson, and the #74 ISR-run fellow Audi R8 LMS of Frank Stippler.
Barnicoat began the race in the #58 Strakka Racing McLaren 650 S, producing a series of good opening laps to vault up six places to 15th position. However the Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver was then forced to pit to replace a punctured tyre following contact by the #5 Audi R8 LMS which when he resumed, demoted him to 25th place and over 20 seconds behind the #89 Akka ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 machine of Christophe Bourret.
Dennis took control of the #3 Audi when the pit window opened, with the car in 12th position. The fellow RSF-backed driver rapidly moved up three places to ninth but had work to do to reduce the three-second margin to the #59 Strakka McLaren of Rob Bell.
In the closing stages, Dennis’s efforts proved in vain, dropping a single place back to 10th place by the chequered flag. The position hands the he and Schothorst a single championship point.
“If you’d have offered me 10th place earlier in the weekend after our troubles, I’d have certainly taken it,” Dennis said. “After starting 14th today, our aim was to bank points, and that’s exactly what we achieved. I just didn’t have the speed to keep up with the [#63 GRT Racing] Lambourgini which got ahead of me towards the end. But it’s a successful result given our earlier problems.
“Looking ahead to the next endurance round at Monza, it will be good to have some pre-race testing in the car after missing out this weekend. The Audi is good through the corners but lacks a little on the straights, which Monza is renowned for. But our target will be a top five finish.”
Barnicoat extended his stint in the car towards the end of the pit window before pitting to hand over the car to team-mate Alvaro Parente. The Portuguese driver managed to progress up two places to a 18th place finish by the conclusion.
“The puncture was a big shame as I’d moved up those six places in just two laps,” Barnicoat said. “The tyres were also very old due to two punctures in yesterday’s race too.
“So it was really looking up for us in the opening laps until the puncture. The fact that Alvaro managed to grab the fastest lap shows that we have improved the set-up throughout the weekend. Hopefully we can start the next race in a good place with the car.”
The #84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Franck Perera and Maxi Buhk dominated the race, to win by over 23 seconds from the #7 Bentley Continental of Vincent Abril and Steven Kane. The #86 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Jimmy Eriksson and Dominik Baumann followed closely behind.
|Misano Circuit (4.226km / 2.636 miles): Main Race|
|Pos||Driver||Team||Car||Time / Gap|
|1||Perera / Buhk||HTP Motorsport||Mercedes-AMG GT3|
|2||Abril / Kane||Bentley Team M-Sport||Bentley Continental GT3||+23.353s|
|3||Eriksson / Baumann||Team HTP Motorsport||Mercedes-AMG GT3||+23.743s|
|4||Serralles / Juncadella||AKKA ASP||Mercedes-AMG GT3||+24.346s|
|5||Monti / Haase||Sainteloc Racing||Audi R8 LMS||+24.987s|
|6||Blomqvist / Eng||Rowe Racing||BMW M6 GT3||+37.696s|
|7||Krohn / Palttala||Rowe Racing||BMW M6 GT3||+41.170s|
|8||Watson / Bell||Strakka Racing||McLaren 650 S GT3||+41.498s|
|9||Engelhart / Bortolotti||GRT Grasser Racing||Lambourghini Huracan GT3||+44.035s|
|10||Schothorst / Dennis||Team WRT||Audi R8 LMS||+46.961s|
|18||Barnicoat / Parente||Strakka Racing||McLaren 650 S GT3||+1 lap|
|Track condition: Dry.|
Free practice 1: Barnicoat/Parente NC; Schothorst/Dennis NC. Free practice 2: Barnicoat/Parente 7th, 1m 33.371s, +0.352s; Schothorst/Dennis NC. Qualifying (qualifying race grid): Barnicoat/Parente P13, 1m 32.861s, +0.542s; Schothorst/Dennis NC. Qualifying Race: Barnicoat/Parente 22nd, +1 lap; Schothorst/Dennis 14th, +1m 25.164s. Main Race: Barnicoat/Parente 18th, +1 lap; Schothorst/Dennis 10th, +46.961s.
Photo: Brecht Decancq. Copyright-free Racing Steps Foundation images are available from the RSF Image Bank at www.jakobebrey.com/rsf