Customer Racing: Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup:Title win for Mercedes-AMG in thrilling Blancpain Sprint Cup finale

16.
September 2018
Nürburgring

The AKKA ASP Team wins the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup title after a thrilling finale with the Mercedes-AMG GT3: with a margin of 7.5 points, Raffaele Marciello (ITA) and Michael Meadows (GBR) secure the prestigious title in the final race at the Nürburgring. The duo having started the final Sprint Cup event equal on points, they went on to claim the title after making great progress with fourth place in the first and victory in the second race. In the race on Sunday, BLACK FALCON drivers Hubert Haupt (GER) and Luca Stolz (GER) finish second to complete the 1-2. The AKKA ASP Team also secures the Blancpain GT Series Silver Cup title with drivers Nico Bastian (GER) and Jack Manchester (GBR). They had already sealed the championship early in the previous round at the Hungaroring.

  • Sprint Cup champions: Raffaele Marciello and Michael Meadows
  • Race 2: 1-2 for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #88 and #6
  • Race 2: Silver Cup victory for BLACK FALCON #6
  • Race 1: Fourth place for AKKA ASP Team #88 

Nürburgring – Prior to the weekend, it was already certain: the finale in the battle for the Sprint Cup title would be a thriller. Going into the races at the Nürburgring, three driver pairings still had chances of winning the title. The Lamborghini with starting number 63 having been excluded from the event due to an infringement and having had its victory from the first race taken away, the battle turned into a duel between Mercedes-AMG drivers Raffaele Marciello and Michael Meadows and an Audi duo, in which the AKKA ASP drivers came out on top.

Nine points down in the championship standings, Marciello started Sunday’s final race from second place on the grid. After a brief battle for position in the first corner, the race went according to plan. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 ran like clockwork and neither Marciello nor Meadows made a single mistake. Marciello having handed the car to Meadows in second place, the team managed to make up one position during the pit stop and then controlled the race while in the lead. Meadows finished the race in a commanding way and eventually was first across the line with a margin of 0.547 seconds. Hubert Haupt and Luca Stolz, who had started the race from pole position, completed the 1-2 with the #6 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3.

The AKKA ASP Team already laid the foundation for the Sprint Cup title win on Saturday. After a difficult qualifying with tenth place on the grid, they had to score as many points as possible in order to being able to attack from the front row of the grid on Sunday. Starting driver Meadows drove the Mercedes-AMG GT3 through the opening stage without any damage, but initially was unable to make up any positions. Until the pit window opened, the Brit was battling to close up to the top ten and thus score valuable points. An early pit stop enabled the team to move up into eighth place and then Marciello tried everything to gain further positions quickly. The young Italian staged two strong overtaking manoeuvres in the final corner going onto the main straight of the Nürburgring that saw him move up into fifth place. The post-race exclusion of the winner of the first race made the duo score 7.5 points for fourth place overall that would turn out to be extremely important after the second race.

Silver Cup title for AKKA ASP Team #90 At the Hungaroring a fortnight ago, Nico Bastian and Jack Manchester had already sealed the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Silver Cup title early. With a consistent performance throughout the season, the duo scored points in every race and next to one Silver Cup victory claimed another six class podium finishes. With second place for SMP Racing by AKKA ASP’s Vladimir Atoev and Alexey Korneev, teams with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 claimed the first two positions in the Silver Cup.

The Blancpain GT Series season finale with the decision in the battles for the overall and Endurance Cup standings will be taking place in Barcelona, 28-30 September.

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “This is a super achievement of which the AKKA ASP Team, Raffaele and Michael can be mega proud. It has been a hard battle throughout the season. Halfway through the season, it almost seemed as all perspectives were gone. However, a very strong comeback in the last rounds still enabled them to decide the battle for the title in their favour. Congratulations to the entire team and the drivers who have thus won the first championship title for Mercedes-AMG this season.”

Raffaele Marciello, AKKA ASP Team #88: “Luca had a good start in the second race and I tried to keep up with him and stay ahead of the Audi. After that, I drove a controlled race and we had a good pit stop. I am super happy with the win and the Sprint Cup title. It is a great feeling. We also still have all the chances of winning the overall championship and with this weekend’s result, we have scored further valuable points for that. I really am totally happy.”

Michael Meadows, AKKA ASP Team #88: “The team has done an outstanding job all year long. We have improved from race to race. Raffaele is unbelievable, he is super fast and has done a perfect job. Winning the Sprint Cup for Mercedes-AMG is great and a real honour. But we have yet another important goal as we have our eyes set on the overall title in Barcelona.”

Jérôme Policand, team principal, AKKA ASP Team: “We did it, that is a super feeling and an outstanding achievement by the entire team. In the Sprint Cup, you have to do a perfect job in every race, otherwise, you have no chance. This season, we have had a few setbacks, but we never gave up. This weekend, we did everything perfectly, in spite of a difficult first qualifying. We knew that we had to win the second race and were able to increase the pressure on our opponents. With Raffaele and Michael, we have two super drivers within our team. I am really happy for the two of them. And I would like to thank Mercedes-AMG and everyone involved in our project that we started two years ago with the Mercedes-AMG GT3.”

Luca Stolz, BLACK FALCON #6: “Pole position was the basis for the great race today. BLACK FALCON had prepared a perfect car for us. I had a good start and I was able to control the race from the lead. We didn’t have the best pit stop with the driver change, but we didn’t have much time to practice either, this being only our second Sprint Cup weekend this season. I am super happy with second place overall and victory in the Silver Cup. This is an outstanding achievement for us and these were super valuable points for Hubert who can now still win the overall and Endurance Cup Silver Cup titles in Barcelona.”

Nico Bastian, AKKA ASP Team #90: “All in all, this unfortunately was a weekend to forget for us. We did have a good grid position with fifth place for the first race, but after a puncture during Jack’s stint, we only finished fourth in the Silver Cup. For the second race, we had to start from the pits, but the AKKA ASP Team has done a super job to enable us to start the race at all. Fourth place then again was damage limitation and valuable points for the overall Silver Cup title we still want to win in Barcelona.”

Result race 1*, Nürburgring:  

POS

overall

POS

class

Nr.

Car

Team

Drivers

1.

1.

(PRO)

1

Audi R8 LMS

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

Alex Riberas (ESP), Christopher Mies (GER)

2.

2.

(PRO)

2

Audi R8 LMS

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

Will Stevens (GBR), Dries Vanthoor (BEL)

3.

3.

(PRO)

19

Lamborghini Huracan GT3

GRT Grasser Racing Team

Ezequiel Perez Companc (ARG), Andrea Caldarelli (ITA)

4.

4.

(PRO)

88

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Raffaele Marciello (ITA), Michael Meadows (GBR)

 

 

 

 

 

7.

7.

(PRO)

87

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Nicolas Jamin (FRA)

14.

2.

(SILVER)

35

Mercedes-AMG GT3

SMP Racing by AKKA ASP

Vladimir Atoev (RUS), Alexey Korneev (RUS)

15.

3.

(SILVER)

6

Mercedes-AMG GT3

BLACK FALCON

Hubert Haupt (GER), Luca Stolz (GER)

16.

4.

(SILVER)

90

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Nico Bastian (GER), Jack Manchester (GBR)

* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organiser 

Result race 2*, Nürburgring:  

POS

overall

POS

class

Nr.

Car

Team

Drivers

1.

1.

(PRO)

88

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Raffaele Marciello (ITA), Michael Meadows (GBR)

2.

1.

(SILVER)

6

Mercedes-AMG GT3

BLACK FALCON

Hubert Haupt (GER), Luca Stolz (GER)

3.

2.

(PRO)

25

Audi R8 LMS

Sainteloc Racing

Simon Gachet (FRA), Christopher Haase (GER)

 

 

 

 

 

6.

5.

(PRO)

87

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Nicolas Jamin (FRA)

11.

2.

(SILVER)

35

Mercedes-AMG GT3

SMP Racing by AKKA ASP

Vladimir Atoev (RUS), Alexey Korneev (RUS)

17.

4.

(SILVER)

90

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Nico Bastian (GER), Jack Manchester (GBR)

* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organiser

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  • 18C0803_12
    Pit stops for #88 and #35 Mercedes-AMG GT3s
  • 18C0803_13
    #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 by AKKA ASP Team
  • 18C0803_14
    Starting grid first race: #6 BLACK FALCON
  • 18C0803_15
    Winner overall: 1st place #88 AKKA ASP Team (middle) and 2nd place #6 BLACK FALCON (left)
  • 18C0803_01
    Sprint Cup Champions (left to right): Michael Meadows, Jérôme Policand, Raffaele Marciello
  • 18C0803_02
    Sprint Cup Champions: Raffaele Marciello (left) and Michael Meadows
  • 18C0803_03
    Finish line race two: 1-2 win for #88 and #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3
  • 18C0803_16
    Sprint Cup Champions #88 AKKA ASP Team (middle) and Silver Cup Champions #90 AKKA ASP (left)Team
  • 18C0803_04
    Start second race: #88 and #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3
  • 18C0803_05
    Raffaele Marciello and Jérôme Policand
  • 18C0803_06
    Pit stop: #6 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3
  • 18C0803_07
    #87 and #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3s
  • 18C0803_08
    #35 SMP Racing by AKKA ASP and #6 BLACK FALCON
  • 18C0803_09
    #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3
  • 18C0803_10
    Driver change from #88 AKKA ASP Team
  • 18C0803_11
    Nico Bastian (left), Raffaele Marciello (middle) and Luca Stolz before second race
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