It was almost the case that the race winner didn’t take the start due to a broken wheelnut only spotted as the car was pushed out of the garage to take its grid position. Sterling work by the mechanics had it removed, and a replacement found and fitted so the car was able to exit the pitlane a matter of seconds before it closed. Any later and Procyzk would have had to start from the back.
Maximilian Buhk, who said afterward that he had genuinely entertained thoughts of having pole when Procyzk hadn’t shown up, crossed the start line in the #84 Mercedes a car length ahead of Procyzk but managed to cede ground into Paddock Hill bend, slotting back into second and avoiding a penalty.
Profiting from the start were the Bhaitech McLarens; Giorgio Pantano in the #60 car gained four places, up to 4th, and his team mate Daniel Lloyd in #61 moved up to 7th from 10th. Sergio Jiminez lost two places from 3rd in the #0 Team Brasil BMW, and contact between Stefan Rosina in the #88 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini and Stef Dusseldorp in the #85 HTP Mercedes SLS undid all of Thomas Enge’s good work in the Reiter Lamborghini earlier in Race 1. It was Stefano Columbo in the #34 Roal BMW that tapped the rear of the SLS putting it into the Lamborghini such that took off its front bodywork. Dusseldorp was forced to pit, with missing bodywork at the end of lap 2, parked the car, and got out visibly annoyed by the retirement.
After ten minutes the leaders, 1st to 4th, were separated by just 2 seconds with the #28 Grasser Lamborghini leading from the #84 HTP Mercedes and the #30 Team Brasil BMW. The #4 Audi of Vincent Abril led the Silver Cup standings, a position it was to hold to the end of the race, and the #27 Grasser Racing Lamborghini led in Pro-Am in 14th overall.
Not long before the pit window was due to open, 25 minutes in, the #88 Reiter Lamborghini was involved in another incident; after making contact with the #6 Audi of Niki Mayer-Melnhof, both cars went off at Sheene curve. The Audi was able to get back to the pits for a new right-front but the Lambo was left beached in the gravel trap, bringing out the Safety Car. Even though the #6 Audi re-joined, it was back in the pits again a lap later only to be wheeled into the garage to end its day.
The pit window opened on Lap 17. There is no minimum pit-stop time in the Blancpain Sprint Series and it makes pit-stops really worth watching, much more so than in some other series. The Team Brasil mechanics were visibly in a class of their own and won a €2,000 cheque for their ‘pit-stop challenge’ prize. Whereas the Scuderia Villorba Corse guys took their stop in ‘typical Italian style with much gesticulating’ as described by the circuit radio commentary.
Max Buhk lost a place during the stops as he handed the #85 HTP SLS over to Max Gotz, otherwise the field remained largely unchanged (Lap 22 top-ten: #28, #30, #84, #0, #1, #33, #4 (Silver Cup leader), #90, #2, #34 (Silver Cup)). The exceptions being; Alex Zanardi in the #33 Roal BMW, who continued to improve on an impressive start, moving up to 6th from 9th, and Marc Basseng inheriting the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi from Alessandro Latif in 11th overall, having leap-frogged the #27 Grasser Lamborghini for the lead in the Pro-Am class.
Into the final third of the race and it sounded very much like there was something amiss with Laurens Vanthoor’s odd-sounding #1 Team WRT Audi, it was as if the team had installed an old F1 engine in the back.
With 15 mins to go the top-ten race order on lap 30 race was steady at #28, #30, #84, #0, #1, #33, #4 (Silver Cup leader), #90, #2, #34 (Silver Cup). The Pro-Am leader, Basseng’s #5 Audi, remained in 11th. That was before a drive-through penalty, given to the #30 BMW for gaining a place under a yellow flag, had to be taken; thus ending its steady run in second place, consistently 4s behind the leader, and its chance of a podium finish. Another drive-through, for similarly gaining a place under a yellow flag, this time for Stefan Ortelli in the #3 Audi who had been running toward the back of the field for most of the day, added to an inauspicious day for the Monaco resident.
After taking the #30 car’s drive-through, Valdeno Brito Filho rejoined in 8th, 0.382s ahead of Rene Rast’s #2 Audi. Yet try as he might, and he did consistently until the end, Rast could not pass the #30 BMW before the race finished. The BMW ahead of the Audi were the only two cars within striking distance of each other, the reminder happy to maintain gaps and see it out to the finish.
Happiest of all must have been Olympic Champion Alex Zanardi who finished a most remarkable and very creditable 5th after starting last on the grid, as a result of being the final classified driver in Race 1, and reigning champion Laurens Vanthoor for bringing a near to exploding #1 Audi home in 4th.
The Silver Cup honours were taken by Mateusz Lisowski and Vincent Abril, who finished 6th overall. A masterful first stint by Abril, pitting in 7th after starting 12th, set-up Lisowski nicely to bring the #4 Team WRT Audi home as class-winners. Marc Basseng lead the Pro-Am class home in the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 and 11th in the overall classification.
The provisional top-ten finishing order on Lap 41:
#28, #84, #0, #1, #33, #4 (Silver Cup leader), #90, #30, #2, #34 (Silver Cup), and Pro-Am leader #5 11th.