Luca Stolz and Maro Engel, teammates in the #4 HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 won Race One of the GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Sprint Cup double-header at Circuit Nevers Magny-Cours, Engel taking the chequered flag 11.558 seconds ahead of the #14 Emil Frey racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driven by Mikael Grenier and, crossing the line, Norbert Siedler.
Completing the overall podium positions was the #32 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS piloted by Charles Weerts and Dried Vanthoor.
Victory in the Silver Cup class went to Puhakka Juuso and Oscar Tunjo in the #2 Toksport WRT Mercedes followed by the #33 WRT Audi of Jusuf and Hamza Owega.
Class honours in the Pro-Am Cup were taken by #92 SKY – Tempesta Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 driven by Jonathan Hui and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Luca Stolz, a the wheel of the #4 Mercedes, led the field away from the grid followed by Mikael Grenier in the #14 Lamborghini while Steven Palette, driving the #26 Sainteloc Racing Audi which had qualified third, followed the safety car into the pits after the formation lap due to a puncture.
After four laps, Stolz had pulled out a gap of less than a second ahead of Grenier, the leading pair over five seconds ahead of Ezequiel Perez Companc in the #90 Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes. Companc suffered a wheel problem , however, and dropped down to 21st place after having had to call into the pits.
With eight laps completed, Stolz had extended his lead to over three seconds while Grenier maintained a gap of 6.5 seconds ahead of now-third placed Charles Weerts in the #32 Team WRT Audi.
A Full Course Yellow was called after 18 minutes when Louis Machiels in the #52 AF Corse Ferrari went off at Turn 2 and became stuck in the gravel. Racing resumed with 38 minutes remaining, Stolz’s lead had been reduced to just over half a second.
When the pit window opened, Grenier was the first of the top three to stop, handing the #14 Lamborghini over to Norbert Siedler while Luca Stolz kept circulating, extending the lead of the #4 Mercedes.
After the driver changes had cycled through, the #4 entry, now with Maro Engel at the wheel, held a 9.046 second lead over Siesler in the #14 Lamborghini. Siedler, meanwhile, had his mirrors full of Audi R8 LMS GT3 as Dries Vanthoor in the #32 WRT entry was putting the Lamborghini pilot under pressure.
As the one-hour race entered the final five minutes, Engel was able to extend his lead over Siedler who led a procession of five Audis over the line.
Stolz and Engel’s win was the first for the new-for-2020 Haupt Racing Team (HRT) and both drivers were delighted to secure the maiden victory.
“A big thank you to the team, they gave us an absolute beauty,” said Maro Engel. “Our Mercedes-AMG GT3 was such a pleasure to drive tonight. Luca did the job in qualifying and put us on pole which gave us the perfect place to start. Overall it was a great race and a great pit stop. so thank you to the HRT guys.”
“Starting from pole always helps, but’s it a team effort,” reiterated Luca Stolz. “They did a great job during the pit stop and Maro brought it home. We’re really happy now, taking P1 for the first time this season. I want to do the same tomorrow.”
Race Two of the GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Sprint Cup double-header gets underway at 13:50 local time on Sunday September 13.