The Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup 2016 came to an end today at the Nurburgring where teams battled out for three hours straight with eyes on the title wins. In the end, it was Garage 59 who claimed the top prize, taking home both the teams and drivers Endurance Cup titles.
The team of Shane Van Gisbergen, Rob Bell and Côme Ledogar from Garage 59 were crowned the 2016 Endurance Cup winners despite a difficult race that saw them finish in 30th place. Van Gisbergen was absent today and replaced by Duncan Tappy, who joined Bell and Ledogar in the final race of the season.
In the Pro-Am Cup, Kessel Racing claimed both the teams and drivers Endurance Cup titles too. The #11 Kessel Ferrari 488 GT3 team of Michal Broniszewski, Alessandro Bonacini and Andrea Rizzoli was awarded the 2016 Pro-Am Drivers Endurance Cup title while the overall team title in Pro-AM Cup went to Kessel Racing. The team had more to celebrate than just two Pro-AM Cup titles, they also won both titles in the AM Cup category, with the drivers title going to Liam Talbot, Marco Zanuttini and Vadim Gitlin.
Back to the main race, the winners today were quite different from the title winners. This is largely because the season finale did not seem to favor the championship leaders especially Garage 59 team. Bell and his team had an awful qualifying and only managed to start the race from 21st place, that and a series of incidents including a puncture and contact saw them finish the race in 30th place.
Taking advantage of the situation was none other than Christian Engelhart in the #16 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3. A safety car intervention 40 minutes to the finish saw him battle his way to the chequered flag amidst a heavy chase from Laurens Vanthoor in the #1 Audi R8 LMS from Belgian Club WRT. Vanthoor needed to win the race in order to accumulate enough points to give his team the title win. That did not work out as planned, not with Engelhart denying him a way past the green Huracan GT3. The Huracan thus crossed the finish line first followed by Vanthoor in the Audi. In the end, Vanthoor’s team, Garage 59 and Bentley Team M-Sport had 71 points, but the title was awarded to Garage 59 since the team had won two races in the current season.
Third place went to the #23 Nissan GT-R GT3 of Lucas Ordonez, Mitsunori Takaboshi and Alex Buncombe. The #66 Ferrari 458 GT3 from Black Pearl Racing finished fifth overall and first in the Pro-AM Cup, driven by Alexander Mattschull, Steve Parrow and Daniel Keilwitz. The #11 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 was second in this class while the #74 ISR Audi R8 LMS rounded the top three in this class.
The AM-Cup win today went to the #87 Mercedes-AMG GT3 from AKKA ASP sharing the podium with Derek Pierce and Chris Harris in the #30 Bentley Continental GT3 from Team Parker Racing (P2) and the #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 in P3.
One more round remains in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, set for Barcelona on October 1.