Rast/Mayr-Melnhof win qualifying race

Rast/Mayr-Melnhof win qualifying race

GT

Rast/Mayr-Melnhof win qualifying race

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WRT Audi drivers Rene Rast and Niki Mayr-Melnhof claimed victory in the qualifying race in the FIA GT Series finale on the streets of Baku.

The duo’s Audi R8 LMS ultra dominated a race that started behind the safety car and was interrupted by another yellow-flag period and then a race stoppage after a track blockage.

Rast, who had qualified on pole, pulled away from team-mate Laurens Vanthoor in the opening stages, opening a gap of more than eight seconds before the mandatory mid-race pit stops.

Mayr-Melnhof resumed in the lead, but an advantage of 19sec over Stephane Ortelli in the second WRT Audi disappeared when the safety car came out while a stranded car was retrieved.

A red flag followed almost immediately when Cesar Campanico in the Novadriver Audi crashed at Turn 5 and dislodged a stack of tires. Just under 15 minutes were left on the clock when the race resumed.

Mayr-Melnhof was able to pull away from Ortelli, who fought a rear-guard action to stay ahead of Rob Bell in the Hexis McLaren MP4-12C he shared with Kevin Estre.

Rast said: “The car was just amazing. Though the corners, it was like a knife going through butter.”

Mayr-Melnhof added: “There was a lot of pressure on me. I tried not to overdo it and stay calm.”

Ortelli hung on to second, finishing 1.2sec down, to extend his and Vanthoor’s championship lead ahead of the season-closing championship race this afternoon.

Bell and Estre took third ahead of the best of the Boutsen McLarens shared by Stef Dusseldorp and Alexander Sims.

The result means that Ortelli and Vanthoor’s series lead now stands at eight points.

They scored six points for second, but their nearest title rivals and WRT team-mates Edward Sandstrom and Frank Stippler took three points for finishing fourth of the registered Pro Cup entrants in eighth place overall.

The invitational entries from Hexis, Boutsen and Marc VDS, which finished third, fourth and fifth, are not eligible for points at this event.

HTP Gravity Charouz drivers Andreas Simonsen and Sergei Afanasiev (pictured) took the Pro-Am class in their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG with seventh place overall to seal the title.

Results - 32 laps (inc red flag):Pos  Drivers                 Team/Car                      Time/Gap 1.  Mayr-Melnhof/Rast       WRT Audi                  1h14m26.088s 2.  Ortelli/Vanthoor        WRT Audi                       +1.226s 3.  Bell/Estre              Hexis McLaren                  +2.190s 4.  Sims/Dusseldorp         Boutsen McLaren                +2.787s 5.  Catsburg/Martin         Marc VDS BMW                   +5.710s 6.  Loeb/Parente            Loeb McLaren                   +6.859s 7.  Afanasiev/Simonsen      Gravity Charouz Mercedes       +7.761s 8.  Stippler/Sandstrom      WRT Audi                       +7.986s 9.  Khodair/Bueno           Brasil BMW                     +8.606s10.  Winkelhock/Ide          Phoenix Audi                   +9.317s11.  Tandy/Holzer            Trackspeed Porsche            +10.498s12.  Vervisch/Vandoorne      Boutsen McLaren               +11.819s13.  Buhk/Day                Gravity Charouz Mercedes      +12.215s14.  Cunha/Stumpf            Rodrive Lamborghini           +22.513s15.  Webb/Hetherington       Fortec Mercedes               +40.205s16.  Zonta/Jimenez           Brasil BMW                    +40.324s17.  Demoustier/Albuquerque  WRT Audi                      +46.554s18.  Sdanewitsch/Leo         AF Ferrari                  +1m16.134s19.  Thomas/Melnikov         MRS McLaren                     +1 lap20.  Hassid/Beltoise         TDS BMW                        +2 laps21.  Sladecka/Rosina         Grasser Lamborghini            +4 lapsRetirements:     Campanico/Ammermuller   Novadriver Audi                21 laps     Baumann/Proczyk         Grasser Lamborghini            13 laps     Ragginger/Watts         Trackspeed Porsche              8 laps     Charouz/Janis           Gravity Charouz Mercedes        8 laps     Soucek/Turvey           MRS McLaren                     8 laps     Zuber/Parisy            Loeb McLaren                    4 laps

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