The #88 AKKODIS ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Raffaele Marciello and, taking the chequered flag, Timur Boguslavskiy, took the overall win in the Race One of the double-header Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Sprint Cup weekend on the Brands Hatch GP. Boguslavskiy was being chased down in the closing minutes of the 60-minute contest by Ricardo Feller in the #40 Tresor Orange 1 Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II he shared with Mattia Drudi.
Completing the overall podium was the #32 Team WRT BMW M4 GT3 of Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, Vanthoor at the wheel for the second stint.
Victory in the Gold category went to the #9 Boutsen VDS Audi R8 with Aurelien Panis and Alberto Di Falco sharing the driving duties with the #26 Sainteloc Junior Team Audi driven by Paul Evrard and Simon Gachet finishing second in class. The Gold category podium finishers was completed by Cesar Gazeau and Adam Eteki.
Lorenzo Patrese and Alex Aka in the #99 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi took class honours in the Silver category followed by the #28 Nova Race Honda NSX GT3 of Leonardo Moncini and Jacopo Guidetti. Frank Bird and Jordan Love in the #77 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes completed the class podium positions.
Pole-sitter Raffaele Marciello in the #88 AKKODIAS ASP Mercedes led the field from the start and was immediately on the pace but Albert Costa in the #69 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari was not letting the Swiss-Italian driver disappear into the distance and was within a second of the #88 car after three laps.
Mattia Drudi in the #40 Tresor Orange 1 Audi was in third, just over two and a half seconds back from Costa.
With four laps run, Marciello had extended the gap to Costa to nearly 2.3 seconds and was setting purple sector times in an effort to hand over the #88 Mercedes to Timur Boguslavskiy with a sufficient gap to allow his teammate to race for the overall win.
With 12 laps run, Marciello’s lead had grown to over five seconds from Albert Costa in second place who himself was holding an advantage over Mattia Drudi of 6.5 seconds. Christian Engelhart, at the wheel of the #54 Dinamic GT Huber Racing Porsche was less than a second behind Konsta Lappalainen in the #14 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 in fourth.
There was drama in the pit lane after the #68 Nova Race Honda with Erwin Zanotti at the wheel was nudged by Patrick Niederhauser’s #25 Sainteloc Junior Team Audi following an unsafe release as Zanotti approached his pit box, resulting in the #68 car facing nose-in to the garage. The incident was investigated by the stewards and the #25 car was given a five-place grid penalty for Race Two.
Marciello stayed out until the dying seconds of the driver change window as the #88 car’s tyres started to fade. Boguslavskiy left the pit lane holding with a lead of over 15 seconds from Ricardo Feller in the #40 Audi he had taken over from Mattia Drudi.
Feller was lapping over a second a lap quicker than Boguslavskiy and, with less than 20 minutes remaining, the #88 car’s advantage had fallen to 11.2 seconds. The gap continued to fall and after 34 laps, Feller was just over 6.5 seconds from Boguslavskiy.
As the race entered the final three minutes, Feller was just 2.2 seconds behind the leading #88 Mercedes and Boguslavskiy was now in site of the Swiss driver. As the leading trio entered the final lap, the gap was down to 1.46 seconds with the risk to Boguslavskiy of traffic ahead to impede his run out onto the GP circuit. However the #88 driver held on to take the chequered flag just .616 seconds ahead of the #40 Tresor Orange 1 Audi.
Adrien De Leener, at the wheel of the #54 Dinamic GT Huber Racing Porsche, encountered a technical problem on the final lap and fell back from fourth to eighth and eventually stopping out on circuit, handing the position to Christopher Haase in the #11 Comtoyou Racing Audi.
The #88 Mercedes driver pairing appeared to be under-whelmed by their victory with Marciello expressing frustration at the pace of the second stint and Boguslavskiy unhappy with his own driving.
“It was difficult to do more,” said Marciello. “Luckily today it was enough but for sure it was not easy. I can build that gap at some tracks and at others I cannot so let’s hope that Timur will be a bit quicker next time. If I give him the car with five or six seconds, it should be enough.”
“I was worried about traffic because on this track it’s hard to overtake, even if you’re losing two or three seconds,” said teammate Boguslavskiy. “Thank you to Lello (Marciello). He made my life easier and made a good gap for me. To be honest. I’m struggling quite a lot since Monza. I don’t know why.”
Race Two gets underway at 4.10pm on Sunday May 14.