Polesitter Mirko Bortolotti and co-driver Christian Engelhart enjoyed a straightforward win from the front of the grid in the Brands Hatch Blancpain GT Sprint Cup qualifying race on Sunday.
At the start, Bortolotti was already well down the road when there was a coming-together between the Sainteloc Audi of Christopher Haase and WRT Audi of Christopher Mies that sent the latter spinning into the Paddock Hill Bend gravel and caused a puncture for the former which had to be attended to on the following lap.
Behind Bortolotti, third-place starter Jesse Krohn in the #98 ROWE BMW had profited from Mies’ trouble to move up to second, ahead of Norbert Siedler in the #19 Grasser Lamborghini, Marco Mapelli in the #66 Attempto Lamborghini and Daniel Juncadella in the #88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes.
As is often the case arounds the Brands GP loop, there was no change at the head of the order during the first half of the race, with Phillip Eng running sixth in the other ROWE BMW, Alvaro Parente seventh in the #58 Strakka McLaren and Robin Frijns eight in the #17 WRT Audi.
After the stops with the respective cars’ second drivers aboard, there was little change with Engelhart leading from Markus Palttala, Ezequiel Perez Companc, Felix Serralles, Max Buhk and Antonio Felix Da Costa.
Action came further down the order when Andy Soucek in the #8 Bentley, running 13th, ran into the back of the #89 AKKA-ASP Mercedes of Christophe Bourriet, while attempting to lap him on the way into Paddock Hill Bend. While the Frenchman ended up in the barriers, Soucek was able to continue, but despite the accident seeming to be caused by Bourret slowing significantly, the Bentley was hit with a 40-second post-race penalty.
Under the subsequent full-course yellow, Buhk had to pit with a puncture, meaning the order at the flag was Engelhart, Palttala, Companc, Serralles and Da Costa, followed by Ben Barnicoat in the #58 McLaren started by Parente, Stuart Leonard in the #17 WRT Audi and Michael Meadows in the #90 AKKA-ASP Mercedes. Rounding out the top 10 was Kevin Ceccon in the #74 ISR Audi started by Frank Stippler.