Dries Vanthoor, driving the #32 Belgian Audi Club team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 he shared with Charles Weerts, took the chequered flag to win Race One of the three-race weekend programme for GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS. Vanthoor finished .871 seconds ahead of Kelvin van der Linde in the sister #31 Audi he shared with teammate Ryuichiro Tomita.
The final overall podium position went to the #107 CMR Bentley Continental GT3 driven by Jules Gounon and, driving the second stint, Nelson Panciatici.
Victory in the Silver Cup class went to the #26 Sainteloc Racing Audi driven by Steven Palette and, taking the chequered flag, Simon Gachet. Ezequiel Perez Companc and Axcil Jeffries in the #90 Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes was second.
The win in the Pro-Am class went to the #93 SKY – Tempesta Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 driven by Chris Froggatt and Eddie Cheever.
Thomas Neubauer in the #15 Tech 1 Racing Lexus RC F GT3, led the field away from the grid in pole position with Jules Gounon in the #107 CMR Bentley Continental GT3 staying close to the leader.
By the fifth lap, the leading duo of Neubauer and Gounon were starting to pull out a gap to third-placed Jim Pla in the #89 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3, Pla checking his mirrors as Ryuichiro Tomita, making his GT World Challenge Europe debut, putting the French driver under pressure.
Out of Turn 3 on Lap 14, Pla went wide, dropping the #89 Mercedes down to fifth overall and allowing Tomita through, followed by Charles Weerts in the #32 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi through to third and fourth.
As the pit window approached, Gounon had been unable to find a away past Neubauer and was a little over half a second back from the leading Lexus. Neubauer stopped first, releasing Gounon to put in some quick laps to build an advantage for the driver change.
Gounon was, however, baulked by a car on an out lap and was unable to capitalise on the opportunity.
There was disappointment for the #15 Lexus, now with Aurelien Panis on board, as the car slowed on its first lap out of the pits, a blown radiator making retirement inevitable.
After the driver changes had cycled through, it was the #107 Bentley, piloted by Nelson Panciatici, which held a lead of over eight seconds from the #32 Audi now in the hands of Dries Vanthoor.
Vanthoor nibbled at the Panciatici’s lead as Kevin van der Linde, driving the sister #31 car, began to put the #32 Audi under pressure from third.
With less than 20 minutes remaining a Full course yellow was called after am incident involving the #89 Mercedes and the #55 Attempto Racing Audi resulted in Benjamin Hites needing recovery from Turn Eight.
After the Safety Car was called and the field bunched up, racing resumed with less than ten minutes remaining. Vanthoor immediately attacked Panciatici and was less than half a second behind the leader on Lap 31. Vanthoor made a lunge up the inside for the lead, allowing van der Linde in the sister #31 Audi through for second.
The two leading Audis pulled out a small gap to Panciatici in third which they maintained through to the chequered flag.
“Firstly I was happy that there was a Safety Car and than I could see that he (Panciatici) was struggling a bit on the first push laps,” said Vanthoor. “I tried to get my moment and he made a small mistake going into Turn Six. I went for it and luckily he gave me space so it went well.”
The lights go out for race two at 09:00 local time on Sunday August 9.