Auer and Engel seize early Sprint Cup advantage with commanding Race 2 victory at Brands Hatch

Auer and Engel seize early Sprint Cup advantage with commanding Race 2 victory at Brands Hatch

• Winward Racing Team MANN-FILTER secure maiden series win with controlled performance
• Magnus/Evrard give Saintéloc Racing hard-earned Gold Cup victory in #25 Audi 
• Silver Cup win on debut for Fleming/Donno in #71 AF Corse 
• Result: Brands Hatch Race 2

Lucas Auer and Maro Engel took a lights-to-flag win in the second of this weekend's Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS races at Brands Hatch to establish an early advantage at the top of the Sprint Cup standings. 

The #48 Winward Racing Team MANN-FILTER Mercedes-AMG banked a podium in Sunday's opening race and was favourite to convert pole into victory during this afternoon's second contest. Auer and Engel executed perfectly, earning the Texan team its maiden overall triumph in the process.  

Auer had already beaten fellow Mercedes-AMG factory driver Jules Gounon to pole and was able to lead the #9 Boutsen VDS machine into Paddock Hill Bend when the action got underway. He then built a significant gap at the head of the field, pulling more than seven seconds clear by the 20-minute mark. 

While he could not match the #48 machine, Gounon was not under serious pressure from behind. Thierry Vermeulen (#69 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari) ran third throughout the opening stint, closely followed by Benjamin Goethe (#159 Garage 59 McLaren), and these were the first two cars to stop when the pit window opened.

There were no problems for Emil Frey Racing, but a delayed service cost the Garage 59 car a handful of positions. Now driven by Giacomo Altoè, the #69 Ferrari delivered a series of quick laps that allowed the Italian to jump ahead of the #9 Boutsen VDS Mercedes-AMG when Gounon stopped to hand over to Maximilian Götz. 

Indeed, stopping early proved to be a shrewd decision by Emil Frey Racing. The leading Mercedes-AMG was among the last to pit and received a quick service from the Winward Racing crew, but Engel's advantage over Altoè was considerably reduced. The Italian was able to cut the gap further on-track, though the experienced Engel remained composed at the head of the field. 

The best action during this phase of the race was the battle for sixth, led by Valentino Rossi after a quick turnaround from his #46 Team WRT crew. The McLaren of Tom Gamble was in a hurry to recover ground, but Rossi made him work hard for the position over a number of laps.  

Once the British driver had completed a pass the #46 BMW was faced with another serious challenge as the sister #32 BMW of Dries Vanthoor lined up to make a move. Though unable to rediscover the pace that earned opening race honours, the #32 was ultimately able to find a way past Rossi, who retired soon after due to a steering issue.

The gap at the front continued to diminish, but Engel never looked like surrendering the win. The German crossed the line 2.5 seconds ahead of Altoè, with Götz completing the podium aboard the #9 Boutsen VDS Mercedes-AMG. The #99 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi was a close fourth after Alex Aka chased Götz throughout the second stint, followed by the #14 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari, the #159 Garage 59 McLaren, the #32 Team WRT BMW, and the #96 Rutronik Racing Porsche. 

Ninth overall and Gold Cup victory went to the #25 Saintéloc Racing Audi. Gilles Magnus ran well in the opening stint before handing over to Paul Evrard, who soaked up late pressure from Max Hofer (#6 LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler by OneGroup Audi) to secure the win. The #71 AF Corse Ferrari of Thomas Fleming and Eliseo Donno took the Silver class victory, placing 11th overall and capping an impressive Fanatec GT Europe debut for the young crew. 

A sunny Bank Holiday weekend in Kent ensured another excellent spectator turnout at Brands Hatch, with 18,000 fans in attendance over two busy days. With the opening event complete, the Sprint Cup now heads to Misano, where both 60-minute races will be staged on Saturday 18 May – the second after the sun has set on the Adriatic venue.