Text: Rick Kiewiet
Images: SRO Media
Sainteloc Audi took the victory in the second GT World Challenge Sprint Cup race in Magny Cours, but not with their Pro-car. It was the #26 Silver Cup entry with drivers Simon Gachet and Steven Palette who took a well deserved win in Sainteloc's home race. Marciello and Boguslavskiy made up for their disappointing race yesterday with p2 in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes, while yesterday's winners Stolz and Engel finished 3rd for HRT.
Not for the first time this season, a Silver Cup driver managed to claim Pole Position for the race. Simon Gachet, in the #26 Sainteloc Audi, was 0.015s faster than Raffaele Marciello in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes and 0.021s faster than yesterday's winning car, the #4 HRT Mercedes of Maro Engel. Christopher Haase put the second Sainteloc car on p4 ahead of Albert Costa in the #163 Emil Frey Lamborghini. Giancarlo Fisichella qualified the Pro-Am #92 Sky Tempesta Ferrari as far up as 6th.
Right after the lights went green, Gachet held on to the lead ahead of Marciello. Engel and Haase followed in the sprint towards the Adelaide hairpin. At the back of the field it went sideways for CMR Bentley yet again, as Jules Gounon was pushed in a spin by the #15 Lexus of Thomas Neubauer. Multiple cars went through the gravel to avoid the spun Bentley but in the dust clouds there were still several contacts. The Safety Car was called on track and when the dust settled, the other CMR Bentley of Pierre-Alexandre Jean was pushed backwards into its garage with damage and Benjamin Hites in the #89 Mercedes was in the pits for repairs.
After three laps behind the Safety Car, the field was unleashed again. Half a lap later, Fred Vervisch was helped into the barriers at the Nürburgring chicane by Albert Costa in the #163 Lambo. Puhakka in the #2 Toksport Mercedes immediately took his chance to fly by the Spaniard and was now 5th. A lap later, Dries Vanthoor in the #32 WRT Audi also forced his way past the Lamborghini.
Just before the pit window opened 25 minutes into the race, Gachet in front had built a 2 second gap towards the Mercedes of Marciello. 2.5 seconds further back were Engel and Haase close together. They in turn also had a 2 second gap towards Puhakka, Costa, Vanthoor and Van der Linde. Siedler and Fisichella, leader in the Pro-Am cup, completed the top-10 but already had a 4 second gap to Van der Linde.
HRT and Emil Frey Racing were the first to call in their cars for a driver change and fresh rubber: Engel and Costa came in when the pit window opened. Puhakka and Haase decided to come in exactly in the middle of the window, while Gachet, Vanthoor and Van der Linde stayed out late. Marciello stayed out as long as he possibly could and just before his stop he closed the gap towards Gachet.
A very quick in-lap handed Boguslavskiy, who took over from Marciello, the lead as he came out of the pits just before Palette who took over the Sainteloc Audi. Palette immediately put the pressure on the Russian. His first attempt to overtake failed just after the Nürburgring chicane, but half a lap later, Boguslavskiy made a slight mistake in turn 2. This sent him wide through the gravel which gave Palette the opportunity to get past the Mercedes on the inside. Luca Stolz in the #4 HRT Mercedes was now under the rear wing of Boguslavskiy. Some five seconds down the road was the Audi trio of Weerts (#32 WRT), Rougier (#25 Sainteloc) and Tomita (#31 WRT). Another two seconds separated them from Tunjo in the #2 Toksport Mercedes and Grenier in the #14 Lamborghini.
Sky-Tempesta led the Pro-Am class, Jonathan Hui in the #92 ahead of Chris Froggatt in the #93.
In the last 15 minutes of the race, the order did not change anymore. Palette in front built a comfortable lead of 10 seconds at the finish and became the first Silver Cup contestant to win a race overall this season. Boguslavskiy had a long battle with Stolz, but managed to keep the orange-black Mercedes behind him and took second. Arthur Rougier came close a couple of times to passing Charles Weerts, but the Belgian held on to fourth. Ferrari dominated the Pro-Am class with a complete lockout of the podium: Hui won ahead of the other Sky Tempesta Ferrari, Machiels completed the podium in the #52 AF Corse Ferrari.
Re-watch the full race: