Sultanov holds off Moller to win gripping Blancpain GT Sports Club season finale in Barcelona as champions crowned
Murod Sultanov beat recently-crowned Blancpain GT Sports Club Overall champion Jens Reno Moller in an enthralling final race of the 2019 season at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
- Second victory of the year for Kessel Racing's Murod Sultanov
- Overall, Titanium Cup and Iron Cup champions crowned to round off a memorable fifth GT Sports Club season
- Audi R8 LMS GT2 impresses again in its second competitive outing
Sultanov took his second victory of the campaign in his Kessel Racing-prepared Ferrari 488 GT3 with a stoic defensive drive after leading the field away from a safety car restart with 20 minutes to go.
Sunday’s 45-minute race, held under sunny Catalonian skies, was full of action from the go with James Sofronas overtaking four cars at the start to put the Audi Sport Team WRT-entered Audi GT2 into second behind pole-sitter Denis Remenyako.
The leading pair duly settled into a rhythm with Moller’s Honda NSX GT3 Evo close behind in third, ahead of Coach McKansy’s Lamborghini and Sultanov's Ferrari.
But high drama struck 15 minutes into the race, when both Remenyako’s race one-winning Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Sofronas’ Audi GT2 slipped on oil heading into Turn 7.
Both cars ended up the gravel, triggering the safety car, while Moller also briefly went off but was able to continue, albeit losing the lead to Sultanov who had passed McKansy mere moments before.
Sultanov went on to take the chequered flag by just 0.438s from Moller, while new Titanium Cup champion McKansy completed the podium ahead of Frederic Fangio.
Fangio did well to hold off Angelique Detavernier in the final stages, while Iron Cup winner Stephen Earle and Pavel Strukov both managed to get their Ferraris past Dilantha Malagamuwa’s Lamborghini near the end to take sixth and seventh overall.
Titanium Cup runner-up Malagmuwa made up five places from his grid spot in an impressive drive, with the Sri Lankan ace finishing ahead of Iron Cup podium finishers Rick Lovat and Louis-Philippe Soenen, while Remenyako recovered to finish two laps down ahead of Sofronas.
Blancpain GT Sports Club Champions Crowned
The post-race podium ceremonies were extended for the presentation of the Overall, Titanium Cup and Iron Cup champions for the 2019 season.
Jens Reno Moller, who confirmed himself as Overall champion with a fourth-place finish in race one on Saturday, was joined on the rostrum by Titanium Cup victor Coach McKansy and triple Iron Cup winner Stephen Earle.
Moller ended his debut Blancpain GT Sports Club season with four race wins and three further podiums, plus five pole positions.
McKansy, meanwhile, made amends for finishing second in Titanium Cup last year by coming out on top in a season-long battle with Lee Mowle.
Earle had already wrapped up the Iron Cup championship in style during the SRO Speedweek at Spa, with the affable American taking a total of eight wins across the year.
Murod Sultanov (#23 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3) – Overall winner
“I just tried to push as hard as I could. The setup of the car was really good. I felt the track was slippery on the uphill right corner [after Turn 7] but after two or three laps, all was clear. I think everyone has enjoyed this weekend and the season. It’s been a great season, and hopefully we will be back next year.”
Jens Reno Moller (#11 Reno Racing Honda NSX GT3) – 2nd Overall
“It was a good drive from Sultanov, fair driving. It would have been nice to win the last race as champion, but nevertheless it’s really nice to be on the podium. I had to go very slow through the gravel, and then Sultanov passed me. I managed my tires during the safety car, so I could attack him straight away. It was a nice two races, and a good way to end the season. I hope we will all be back next year for another fun fight.”
Coach McKansy (#17 HP Racing International Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo) – Titanium Cup winner, 3rd Overall
“I’m really happy. It was really nice to see the fight between Murod and Moller ahead of me. For me, I could not achieve more than third place, so I am very happy with that, and to win the Titanium Cup championship is fantastic.”
Stephen Earle (#111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3) – Iron Cup winner
“Yesterday wasn’t my day. I had a puncture, and actually, when I was driving home in the rental car, I had another puncture there! But the race today was good. I got past my competitor and teammate Rick Lovat, and just started closing down the Lamborghini ahead. Dilantha’s a difficult guy to pass, so he made me work for it. That’s the way to close the championship!”
James Sofronas (#25 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT2) – GT2 winner
“The car had good pace and it was exactly the plan based on what I knew the car was going to do. Unfortunately, we hit oil, and the first two guys are usually the unlucky ones! By the time I saw the Mercedes, it was too late. But the car’s in one piece, and both Audi and WRT did an amazing job. I think they should be very pleased with the car and I hope this GT2 class grows quickly because I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and a fantastic category to compete in.”