Anthony Pons has wrapped up the 2017 Blancpain GT Sports Club title at the Hungaroring with the #72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Sunday’s Main Race went to AF Corse’s Christoph Ulrich (#51 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3), who held off team-mate Patrick Van Glabeke (#488 Ferrari 488 GT3) to claim his maiden win in SRO Motorsports Group’s Bronze-only drivers series.
In the Iron Cup, US charger Stephen Earle reclaimed the class points lead from rival Klaus Dieter Frers (#3 Artega Rennsport Ferrari 488 GT3) with a crucial win aboard the #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.
Having secured his maiden win of the season during Saturday’s Qualifying Race, pole sitter Van Glabeke led the way at the start but fellow front row starter Ulrich was immediately on the move, surging ahead at the first corner.
That would prove a pivotal moment in the 40-minute contest. Indeed, with overtaking opportunities few and far between at the notoriously tight and twisty 4.381km Hungarian Grand Prix venue, Ulrich managed to keep a charging Van Glabeke at bay throughout the race.
Behind the battling AF Corse duo, there was a titanic scrap for the final step of the Overall podium, which involved Iron Cup title contenders Earle and Frers. The moustachioed Texan enjoyed a strong getaway to move past his German rival right at the start as well.
Frers actually lost another position to Luxemburg’s Alexis de Bernardi and the #65 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. The Artega Rennsport ace was soon back on Earle’s tail though, and he tried every move in the book to get past the #111 Ferrari, but to no avail.
Overall points leader Pons came home fifth after a challenging outing, which saw him drop several positions at the start and spin at Turn 9 in the early stages. The Frenchman still drove a spirited recovery race to vindicate his title credentials.
De Bernardi added more points to his 2017 tally with sixth place ahead of HP Racing’s Coach McKansy (#17 Lamborghini Huracan GT3) and Christian Hook (#33 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3). Ninth was Oliver Baumann in the #68 DB-Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG GT3.
Louis Philippe Soenen grabbed the final point on offer in the Overall category, while also collecting another Iron Cup podium with the #50 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3. Unfortunately, Karim Ojjeh could not defend his chances in the Main Race after his #2 Boutsen Ginion BMW M6 GT3 proved beyond repair following an incident in Saturday’s Qualifying Race.
While Pons can no longer be caught in the Overall standings, the Iron Cup battle is going down to the wire as Earle leaves Budapest with three points in hand over Frers.
Anthony Pons, #72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The Budapest weekend was quite tricky, though the car setup was perfect and I was very happy with it. During the Qualifying Race, we were very strong but unfortunately we took a penalty, which made our lives harder for Sunday’s Main Race. I was probably a bit too cautious at the start and then I just made a mistake when pushing hard to recover. Despite the mishap, I kept attacking because I wanted to give the guys at AKKA ASP something to cheer about.
“Winning the 2017 Blancpain GT Sports Club championship is very satisfying. Furthermore this is my first individual title. The competition has been very fierce all year long with several drivers giving me a hard time across the events, including my team-mate Daniele Perfetti. The key has been to deliver consistent, mistake-free weekends. The strategy paid off and I’m really happy about it.”
Christoph Ulrich, #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3: “At the start it was ‘all or nothing’! I knew that my car had a little bit more top speed but Patrick’s machine is better in cornering, and overtaking here at the Hungaroring is quite difficult. I just went for it and was able to get a small advantage there. He kept the pressure all race long but in the end I managed to hold the position to secure my first-ever win in the Blancpain GT Sports Club. I’m delighted but I think the true feeling will only sink in later on. At the moment, I’m just happy and tired after a tough race in very hot conditions.”
Stephen Earle, #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3: “I hope the battle was as exciting to watch as it was to race! Klaus [Dieter Frers] is very good with the new car. I knew I had to get by at the beginning and then just focus on my pace. After all the racing I have been doing with the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup I did not have much gas left but I held on and I’m back in the lead of the Iron Cup.”
The 2017 Blancpain GT Sports Club season finale takes place as part of the Festival de la Velocidad de Barcelona (September 29 – October 1), which plays host to the Blancpain GT Series season finale. Live coverage of the meeting will be available on the championship’s official website and Facebook page, as well as SRO Motorsports Group’s GT World YouTube channel.
1. Anthony Pons (#72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3) is the 2017 Blancpain GT Sports Club champion, as Christoph Ulrich (#51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) claims his maiden win in the series
2. The Overall podium following Sunday’s Blancpain GT Sports Club Main Race with, from left to right, Patrick Van Glabeke (#488 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3), Christoph Ulrich (#51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3), and Stephen Earle (#111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)
3. The Iron Cup podium following Sunday’s Blancpain GT Sports Club Main Race with, from left to right, Klaus Dieter Frers (#3 Artega Rennsport Ferrari 488 GT3), Stephen Earle (#111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3), and Louis Philippe Soenen (#50 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3)