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#36 CMR Alpine Takes GT4 International Cup In Bahrain

The formation lap got underway for the GT4 International Cup Min race under the lights with the KTM stalled on the grid, a team member’s efforts with a slave battery were finally successful as the final row of the grid passed the #13, the XBow joining in at the rear.

A great start from Matt Nicol Jones saw the Academy McLaren initially outdrag the polesitting Phoenix Audi but under braking Dontje forged ahead in the #5 Phoenix Audi as Vannelet ran wide and squandered a run to second – the McLaren man retook second and almost retook the lead on the exit out of T1, the leading pair pulling away as others suffered behind.

The Ginetta took a hit to the rear and suffered damage (but continued in the lead of Am-Am) and the #222 Porsche an early stopper in the hands of Niki Leutwiler (the #42 Audi a non-starter alongside the #8 BMW which suffered its second engine failure of the weekend in the second qualifying race). The #26 Alpine was in early trouble too, stopped out on the circuit after its Q2 race damage.

The #36 Alpine though was on a charge 8th to 5th in short order for Pierre-Alexandre Jean, then 4th as the Frenchman passed Policand’s #88 AKKA ASP AMG GT4.

Also on the move was the KTM, the #13 up to 9th overall on Lap 3 but then dealt a drive-through for the tardiness of the team member to leave the grid!

Lap 5 and the Audi was finally able to stretch its legs, Nicoll Jones dropping back a tad in the #10 McLaren as the #36 Alpine cleared the challenge of Vannelet and moved up to third.

Yellow flags for the stationary #38 Sportscarboutique Cayman failed to give the driver an opportunity to rejoin and, 15 minutes in the Safety car made its appearance to permit recovery, 16 runners remained.

The Porsche was quickly recovered to a place of safety and the Safety Car was withdrawn after just five minutes on track.

Dontje backed the field up to dictate the pace for the restart and made it to Turn One with the top three in the same order and beginning to pull out a gap to the remainder of the field.

Further back there was significant contact between the Bullitt AMG and Villorba Corse Maserati, the Mercedes suffering broken steering and forcing the Maserati off track as a result, it would turn around on the grass to rejoin, after almost three minutes for repairs.

Nicoll Jones took another look at grabbing the lead from the Audi but was under pressure too from the Alpine as the top three gapped Vannelet. The Alpine made the move up to second as the pit window opened, the top three all staying out as most of the rest of the field headed to the lane.

Nicoll Jones pitted from third to hand over the #10 to Finlay Hutchison at the halfway point as the #36 moved up to shadow the leader, the #5 and #36, plus the now third placed #3 Audi still to stop.

Next time around it was Dontje to pitlane for his stop, followed in by the sister #3 Audi, the Alpine into the lead.

Jean was last to pit, from the lead, at the end of his 14th lap, Sancinena installed as the #5 powered around in the hands of Möller-Madsen to close the gap. the Alpine would emerge just ahead, Hutchison third but under pressure from Enzo Guibbert in the Pro-Am leading #39 3Y BMW.

Guibbert was pushing hard for a way by the 570S with the third place battle dropping back from the leading pair. A mistake on lap 16 though allowed the BMW man alongside and superior straight line speed saw the McLaren man forced to cede the position with the #88 AKKA ASP AMG also now in the train!

The #11 Las Moras McLaren slowed on track and crept to the pits into retirement with 20 minutes remaining with the surviving 570S now under pressure from the #41 Sainteloc Audi of Steven Palette who had powered by Drouet’s AMG into 5th before moving up the inside of Hutchison into the final turn on Lap 19.

The move from Palette though was deemed illegal, the Audi having gone off track to get the position, race Control ordering the position to be given back to the McLaren. The Audi man though failed to heed the penalty and was dealt a drive through for his trouble! He ignored that call too and whilst the car would finish 4th on the road, a painful visit to the Stewards Room looked inevitable!

Into the final five minutes and Sancinena was five seconds clear in the #36 CMR Alpine, Möller Madsen a similar gap to third placed Guibbert with Hutchison effectively ignoring the Audi ahead and managing the gap to the chasing AMG.

At the flag it would be a win for the #36 Alpine from the #5 Audi, Guibbert would come home third to take the Pro-Am win in the #39 3Y BMW.

Am-Am would go to the #250 RHC Jorgensen/ Strom by MARC Cars BMW.