In the opening Blancpain GT Sports Club race at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Reno Racing’s Jens Reno Moller scored his fourth victory of the season to increase his title chances with a round to spare.
Moller now needs to outscore Kessel Racing’s Murod Sultanov by 18 points to secure the overall championship in race two this weekend, with HP Racing International’s Coach McKansy and Kessel’s Stephen Earle extending their advantage in the Titanium and Iron Cup classes at the Belgian venue.
The race got underway with pole-sitter Moller leading the field on board the #11 Honda NSX GT3 Evo, as GetSpeed Performance’s Denis Remenyako slotted into second. Behind, #17 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 2019 driver Coach McKansy initially held third off the line, but was demoted to fifth as Sultanov and Titanium Cup rival Lee Mowle squeezed through.
After the opening few laps, Moller pulled a slight advantage over Remenyako’s #13 Mercedes AMG GT3, but in the battle for fifth, AF Corse’s Mario Cordoni first had contact with McKansy at the bus stop chicane, dropping him to 10th, before another incident at the same place with AF Corse's
Howard Blank saw him pull over to retire.
This brought out the safety car, slicing Moller’s advantage as the field bunched up. On the restart, the Dane pulled away again from Remenyako, but the Russian remained close on his tail as he chased his first Blancpain GT Sports Club win.
A mistake at the chicane saw the Russian drop to four seconds behind, but the GetSpeed Performance driver started to reel in the #11 Honda as the race entered the last few minutes.
With just two laps to go Remenyako was right on the back of Moller, who had dropped his pace, but the championship leader defended valiantly from a series of attacks to take his fourth victory of the season.
Remenyako had to settle for second on an impressive return to the series, with Sultanov’s #23 Ferrari 488 GT3 rounding out the podium places. The Russian ran much of the race without challenge, although McKansy stayed within a second for much of the latter half of the race.
The German had initially been in a titanic Titanium Cup battle with ERC Sport’s Mowle, but managed to pass the #44 Mercedes around the outside of the final chicane with a little over 16 minutes to go.
Once he was overtaken, Mowle lost touch of the top four, but still came home in fifth and second in class to pick up valuable championship points.
Then came the #111 Ferrari of Earle, who was in a race-long battle with StileF Squadra Corse’s Pavel Strukov and Iron Cup rival Louis-Philippe Soenen. The American dived down the inside of Strukov’s #777 Ferrari on the last corner of the final lap to take sixth overall, with the Russian coming home in seventh.
AF Corse’s #50 Ferrari driver Louis-Philippe Soenen closed on Earle towards the end, eventually finishing eighth and runner-up in the Iron Cup class, with the trio separated by less than a second over the line.
HB Racing’s Bernhard Loffler scored two points on his Blancpain GT Sports Club debut on board the #666 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, with Iron Cup contender Blank bringing home the damaged #56 Ferrari in 10th.
Next up is race two from the legendary Spa circuit at 16:40, which you can follow live on the Blancpain GT Sports Club website, Facebook page and GTWorld YouTube channel.
Jens Reno Moller, Reno Racing #11 Honda NSX GT3 Evo, Overall winner: “It was a nice victory for me, Denis [Remenyako] was very fast at the end. The team had told me to slow down as I had a big gap, but then I started to make mistakes overthinking it. I felt until then I had the race under control. In the end it was a good win and it’s very promising for the season now, as I’ve expanded the gap to [Murod] Sultanov.”
Coach McKansy, HP Racing International #17 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 2019, Titanium Cup winner: “It was a great battle with Lee Mowle for the Titanium Cup win. I was hoping to try and challenge Murod for third, but it was just out of reach. I’m happy with the result though, we didn’t know if we would have the speed at Spa, but now we can push for an overall podium in race two.”
Stephen Earle, Kessel Racing #111 Ferrari 488 GT3, Iron Cup winner: “The race was really good on my side. Louis-Philippe [Soenen] and Pavel Strukov were both better than me through Eau Rouge and Raidillon, but I had the edge over the rest of the lap. I just tried to take my lines and not let them get in my slipstream. Louis-Philippe got up next to me at Les Combes, and I thought ‘that’s a really bold move there, I wouldn’t have tried it but good for you!’, but he went onto the green astro and couldn’t get traction so I held the place. After the safety car restart I felt comfortable and when the #777 Ferrari caught back up we decided not to fight it, as we wanted to concentrate on the Iron Cup. His corner speed wasn’t that great though and I dropped back into Louis-Philippe, so I decided to just dive bomb him at the last chicane and it payed off!”