Pole-sitter Nicolas Vandierendonck headed the 26-car field into Turn 1 at the start of the 25-minute encounter but had dropped to fourth by the end of lap three after losing out to Leimer, who started alongside the Corvette, and Michal Broniszewski in the space of five corners.
That set up the tantalising prospect of this year’s Overall champion chasing down the series newcomer, but the battle never materialised. Instead, Leimer’s X Bionic Lamborghini Huracan slowly edged clear of the chasing Kessel-run Ferrari before eventually taking the chequered flag 4.4s ahead.
Mario Cordoni claimed the final step on the podium after passing Vandierendonck early in proceedings before holding off the Selleslagh Racing driver’s renewed efforts in the closing stages. The pair finished just six tenths apart, with Eric Cayrolle – who is also making his Blancpain GT Sports Club debut this weekend – another four seconds further back aboard his CMR-run Ferrari.
Maurice Ricci (AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3) and Patrick Van Glabeke (AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3) both enjoyed trouble-free runs to sixth and seventh, respectively, while Christoph Ulrich won a race-long seven-car battle for eighth in his AF Corse 458 GT3.
Iron Cup championship contender Stephen Earle had been heading that battle for much of the race but saw his chances literally deflate when a rear puncture pitched his Ferrari sideways and into a spin exiting Turn 2 with just six minutes left on the clock. That allowed reigning class champion Martin Lanting to claim a fifth victory of the year and extend his points advantage to 16 after Earle recovered to finish fourth in class. But, with just 25 points still up for grabs in this afternoon’s final Main Race of the season, the Monegasque can afford to play it safe.
Martin Lanting, #48 AF Corse Ferrari 458 GTE: “I was totally blocked by three or four cars at the first corner, which Stephen took advantage of. So I immediately switched my focus to following the guys ahead and see what might happen. I knew I had to be patient because even second place in class would have been a good result. As soon as he spun with the puncture I knew I could relax because there was no pressure from the other Iron Cup runners behind. Still, P11 against this field is a good achievement. I can afford to be conservative this afternoon.”
Blancpain GT Sports Club’s final Main Race of the season gets underway at 15:50 local time. Watch it live on http://www.blancpainsportsclub.com/gt/live.