With a margin of almost 16 seconds, Laurens Vanthoor and Cesar Ramos crossed the line in first place after the Qualifying Race of the Zolder round of the Blancpain Sprint Series. The Audi duo had dominated the race after a hectic few opening laps. Series’ newcomer Nicky Catsburg and Peter Kox finished in second in the #95 NSC Motorsports/Syntix Lamborghini, with the #28 Lamborghini of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Hari Proczyk in third. The victory in Silver Cup went to the BMW-pairing of Stefano Colombo and David Fumanelli, while Alessandro Latif and Marc Basseng won the race in the Pro-Am Trophy.
Glorious sunshine greeted the drivers for the Qualifying Race in Zolder. With 25 cars on the largest grid of the year, the opening few corners of the race were hectic, but almost everybody got through unscathed. Polesitter Laurens Vanthoor had managed to hold on the lead, but before the end of the first lap the Belgian was passed by René Rast in the #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi. At the end of the ninth lap Vanthoor tried to retake the lead going into the Jacky Ickx-corner, but his Audi made contact with Rast’s and the German lost control of his car. However, he managed to keep it out of the gravel trap, and rejoined in fourth, behind the two Lamborghinis of Bleekemolen and Catsburg.
Just before the pit window opened, Stephane Richelmi spun off the track at the chicane, causing an intervention of the safety car. Once the pit window opened, almost all cars entered the pitlane simultaneously. Peter Kox in the NSC Motorsports/Syntix Lamborghini could rejoin in second, behind Cesar Ramos. But when the lights went green again, there was no stopping the Brazilian. Ramos gained almost half a second a lap over his nearest competitors, eventually finishing with an advantage of just under 16 seconds over Peter Kox.
The fight for the third podium position turned out to be very entertaining, as Enzo Ide in the #2 Audi was all over the Lamborghini of Proczyk. Cacá Bueno in the #0 BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil and Andy Soucek in the #107 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin joined the fight in the final stages of the race, but Proczyk managed to hold on to third. Series leader Maximilian Götz had a difficult start to the race, driving on the edge of the top-10. When Maxi Buhk took over the HTP Mercedes steadily gained some places, eventually crossing the line in 6th.
In Silver Cup David Fumanelli had taken the best start, but the driver of #34 ROAL Motorsport BMW lost his advantage completely when his team made him wait for the second lap under safety car to make its mandatory pitstop. Stefano Colombo rejoined in last position, but after an inspired comeback by the young Italian, the BMW crossed the line in 13th place overall, winning the Silver Cup as well.
Alessandro Latif did his best to keep his nose clean during the opening laps, so Marc Basseng could try and get through the pack in the second half of the race. Even though the German did not get higher than 16th overall, it was still enough to take the win in the Pro-Am Trophy.
The Main Race of the penultimate round of the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series will be held on Sunday October 19th, with the start of the race at 13.45 CET.
Laurens Vanthoor (#1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi): ‘I would like to apologise to the team and to Audi, for this is not the way it should work. René had made a small mistake in the previous corner and I got really close to him in the run up to the Jacky Ickx corner. I showed myself pretty early and I thought he had seen me. It was not planning to do something crazy under braking, I braked just a little bit later. When I was alongside, he turned in on me. It was probably my mistake, for I was the car behind.”
Peter Kox (#95 NSC Motorsports/Syntix Lamborghini): “I lost some ground on Ramos at the restart, but I managed to get closer to him again by setting my best lap. But then he disappeared so quickly, that there was no point in trying to keep. So I drove my own race, looked after the car and controlled the gap to the guys behind me.”
Hari Proczyk (#28 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini): “This was probably one of the hardest races of my life. The car had a lot of oversteer and in the end the brakes started to suffer as well. Enzo was really quick in the second sector, but I had a better exit of the corners. That is why I could keep him behind me.”
David Fumanelli (#34 ROAL Motorsport BMW): “I don’t know what happened with the pit stop, but it was the wrong decision to stay out. Fortunately Stefano did a really good stint and managed to retake a lot of positions and the lead in Silver Cup.’
Marc Basseng (#5 Phoenix Racing Audi): ‘For one reason or another, the car lacked some speed today. The lap times at the beginning of my stint were identical with the ones at the end, which makes me think that we do not manage to get everything out of the tyres. We will have to improve for tomorrow if we want to gain some more places in the overall standings.”