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BLANCPAIN GT WOLRD CHALLENGE EUROPE - VICTORY IN BRANDS HATCH!

10-05-2019

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BLANCPAIN GT WOLRD CHALLENGE EUROPE - VICTORY IN BRANDS HATCH!
The British campaign starts with a perfect overall win!
Team AKKA-ASP collects pole positions, wins and podiums.

This first stage of the Blancpain GT Series’ British campaign, with two back-to-back events (including the Endurance Cup at Silverstone next weekend), started off at Brands Hatch for the inaugural round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. Team AKKA-ASP made a perfect start, claiming the overall win for the first race with Thomas Neubauer and Nico Bastian in the #89 Mercedes-AMG, which was also their first win in the Silver Cup. This first round also saw the Pro-AM duo of Jean Luc Beaubelique and Jim Pla (#87) climb up on the third step of the podium in their category.  A few hours later, starting from pole position, the #90 car of Fabian Schiller and Timur Boguslavskiy was leading for much of the race before being forced to retire with engine failure.  This action-packed race, full of ups and downs, finished with another Silver Cup win for Bastian-Neubauer and a second podium for the Pro-AM crew of Beaubelique-Pla (2nd). Despite being regularly at the front, Raffaele Marciello and Vincent Abril were unlucky. Finishing just off the podium in Race 1, they were forced to retire in race two after a clutch failure. The championship looks to be very close, both for the drivers and the teams… 

Some new blood in the AKKA-ASP line-ups for the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe, run along the same lines as the former Sprint Cup, ie two one-hour races.

As far as the drivers were concerned, they included some experienced drivers and some rookies, but most importantly, are all solid drivers who are extremely motivated to do well. In the Pro category, reigning Champion Raffaele Marciello was paired (just as in Endurance) with Vincent Abril. Two strong pairs are entered in the Silver Cup, both a mix of experience and innovation : in the first, the 2018 Champion  Nico Bastian, and young rookie Thomas Neubauer, straight out of single-seaters and who is new to GT Racing, the series and the Team.

The second car combines the talented Russian driver Timur Boguslavskiy (who is also entered in Endurance) and Fabian Schiller, a young German driver who made his Blancpain GT Series debut in 2017, with a Mercedes-AMG GT3.  In the Pro-AM category, as in Endurance, Jean Luc Beaubelique is driving with Jim Pla, and aiming for the title.

With four cars and leading line-ups, Team AKKA-ASP is aiming high.

High tension Qualifying sessions

For this first round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe, the British weather was distinctly wintery, especially during the free practice sessions and qualifying. It was only 6°C when the first session started, to set the grid of the first race, which meant that it was difficult to get the tyres up to temperature…

For Team AKKA-ASP, the fastest lap came from Nico Bastian at the wheel of the #89 Mercedes-AMG GT3 #89, third overall and pole position in Silver Cup.   Vincent Abril claimed a place on the third row (P6) while  Timur Boguslavskiy put the #90 in 14th position, on the 7th row.  Fourth among the Pro-AM cars, Jean-Luc Beaubelique (#87) finished 23rd.

A few minutes later, the second sessions started under menacing skies, which quickly turned into heavy rain.  This sudden change of grip saw a number of cars spin off, bringing out the red flags. At that moment, only 17 drivers had set a time.  The session restarted a few minutes later, but in the wet.  Any hope of improvement was effectively gone.

So for the Race 2 grid, Fabian Schiller, Timur Boguslavskiy’s team-mate in the #90, claimed the overall pole position as well as than in the Silver Cup. Thomas Neubauer was fifth in the #89 (2nd Silver Cup) just ahead of the reigning Champion, Raffaele Marciello, at the wheel of the #88. Jim Pla’s fastest lap, in the #87, placed him 13th and on the Pro-AM pole position.  

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Round 1 - BRANDS HATCH

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