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GTWC: Mercedes breaks Audi hegemony in race 2 at Misano

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Text: Rick Kiewiet

Images: SRO Media

After yesterday's WRT 1-2 finish, we asked ourselves: who could stop WRT? The answer came swiftly: the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes in the hands of Raffaele Marciello and Timor Boguslavskiy took the win in the second race of Misano's triple-header. By a wisker, but still... They finished ahead of their brand colleagues Engel and Stolz in the HRT Mercedes and the #25 Sainteloc Audi of Haase and Rougier.

In the qualifying session on Saturday, Marciello secured the pole. Kelvin van de Linde, 2nd in Race 1, accompanied him on the first row in the #31 WRT Audi. Maro Engel had put the #4 HRT Mercedes 3rd on the grid and Albert Costa in the #163 Emil Frey Lamborghini took the 4th grid position. Dries Vanthoor qualified the #32 WRT 5th.

As the red lights went out, Marciello profited from his pole position and took the lead after the first corner, followed by Van der Linde. All attention went out to the fight behind between Maro Engel and Albert Costa as they battled for 3rd. Their frolics even forced Costa's Huracan on the grass, but the Spaniard managed to get by Engel's Mercedes in the mid-track hairpin. At the same time, the Audi's of Haase and Vanthoor also exchanged some paint, which cost Haase two positions.

During the first laps of the race, the top-10 had 5 Audi's in it. Marciello led in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes, followed by Kelvin van der Linde in the #31 WRT Audi. Albert Costa in the #163 Lambo came 3rd, Engel was 4th in the HRT Mercedes, ahead of Vanthoor, Drudi, Panciatici in the #107 Bentley, Haase, Vervisch and Siedler in the second Emil Frey Lambo.

Matteo Drudi in the #55 Attempto Audi was the one that initiated a lap of fierce combat. He forced his way past Dries Vanthoor in a move of which at the start, it wasn't clear if he would come out with both his mirrors still attached. This almost seemed to set an example for the cars behind, who now felt allowed to do the same. First, Panciatici put his Bentley on the inside of (again) Vanthoor at turn 1 where the latter was gently forced to cut turn 2 by a bang on the door handle. In that same turn 2, Haase, who was directly behind the Bentley, immediately tried to get round the outside and got a bang on the door as well.

Just after the first fifteen minutes, Benjamin Hites got pushed off the track, again, now by the Tech 1 Lexus. His off caused called out the Safety Car on track. Panis was later penalized with a drive-through penalty. Without an in-car camera, it was hard judge whether this was just or not. It could also be that Hites was already losing control of his car and Panis was unable to avoid him.

Just before the opening of the pit window, racing resumed with Marciello still in the lead, Van der Linde in 2nd, followed by Costa and Engel and a quartet of Audis.

5 cars out of the top-10 immediately came in when the pit window opened, led by Maro Engel in the #4 Mercedes. Also in were Vanthoor, Drudi, Haase and Panciatici. Stolz, now in the #4 Mercedes, came out first, followed by the #32 WRT Audi now in the hands of Charles Weerts. Then it was Rougier who took over the Sainteloc Audi from Haase, Mosca in the #55 Attempto and then Gounon who took over in the Bentley.

Marciello, Van der LInde, Costa and Vervisch tried to win some time in front of the field by making their stop as late as possible. After the pit window closed, Boguslavskiy now led in the #88 Mercedes, ahead of Tomita who took over from van der Linde. Stolz and Weerts were 3rd and 4th, as Altoe in the Lamborghini lost two position over the stops. Rougier, Mosca and Gounon were 6th, 7th and 8th, Silver Cup leader Steven Palette was 9th overall. The main battle of this part of the race was between 2nd and 6th, with all cars within just 2 seconds.

In the last part of the race, Rougier in the #25 Sainteloc Audi managed to gain most positions. First he profited from a slight mistake of Altoe to pass the Lamborghini. He then closed the small gap to Weerts in minutes and took over 4th. This didn't go completely smooth though, as he hit the Belgian slightly in the process, causing parts to fly through the air. In the meantime Tomita also increased the pressure on Boguslavskiy to immense proportions, even hitting him bluntly on the back when the Mercedes braked a tad earlier than the Japanese newcomer expected.

With just over 7 minutes to, Tomita lost control of the #31 for just a blink of an eye. The car snapped away from underneath him, forcing him very wide through the last corner. This dropped him from 2nd to 7th. In the remaining minutes Stolz, now 2nd, tried everything to get his HRT Mercedes ahead of the AKKA ASP brand colleague, but Boguslavskiy withstood the pressure. Rougier took the last podium spot for Sainteloc, ahead of Weerts in the WRT Audi. Altoe was 5th for Emil Frey, ahead of Mosca, Tomita, Gounon and Silver Cup winner Steven Palette. Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini won the Pro-Am cup in the #52 Ferrari.

Check the full results here.

You can re-watch the full race with English commentary here.


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