Rossi and Martin deliver perfect performance to lead Team WRT BMW one-two at Misano

Rossi and Martin deliver perfect performance to lead Team WRT BMW one-two at Misano

• BMW squad untouchable as Rossi/Martin edge Weerts/Vanthoor
• Williams/De Haan cap perfect race with Silver Cup win for Team WRT
• Second successive Gold triumph for Saintéloc Audi of Evrard/Magnus
• Dinamic GT take Bronze class as Dienst/Sager star in #54 Porsche

Valentino Rossi and Maxime Martin triumphed in a highly entertaining Sprint Cup race at Misano, fending off a late charge from the sister Team WRT BMW of Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts to secure victory.

Winners at the Italian circuit last season, Rossi and Martin were made to work even harder for their success this time around, particularly during the second half of the race as the hard-charging Weerts applied significant pressure. 

Martin took the start from pole and maintained his advantage into the opening sequence of corners. Behind him, Marvin Dienst moved the #54 Dinamic GT Porsche up to second spot by getting the jump on Ben Green (#14 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari), while Vanthoor also gained a position to run fourth at the conclusion of lap one.

The #32 BMW was the centre of attention during the opening stint as Vanthoor sought to take the fight to Martin. His first task was to pass Green, who defended firmly for several laps before the BMW finally found a way past. Vanthoor then went in pursuit of Dienst, the German having remained within two seconds of race leader Martin. 

After showing eye-catching speed in Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying, Dienst continued to impress by keeping Vanthoor at bay. With the sister car losing time, the #46 crew elected to make their pit stop slightly earlier than planned, while Vanthoor ducked in one lap later. 

Both stops were phenomenally fast, the #32 gaining just a few hundredths of a second over the #46. The outcome was that Rossi maintained the lead of the race with an advantage of around three seconds over Weerts. For the second year in succession, the local hero was out front with victory in sight.

But this was going to be tougher than his 2023 win. Like Vanthoor before him, Weerts showed a formidable turn of speed, which allowed the Belgian to chip away at Rossi's advantage. He closed up on the sister car, but then fell back by a few seconds. For a moment, it seemed as though the fight may have been called off. 

But it quickly became evident that Weerts was still giving it everything. He regrouped and closed back up to Rossi, applying significant pressure to the sister car as the race entered its final minutes. The battle reached its crescendo when Weerts was able to draw alongside the Italian on the straight; the collective intake of breath from Rossi's fans was almost audible. 

Despite the high stakes the #46 driver held firm, taking the chequered flag to earn back-to-back Misano wins alongside Martin by just 0.275s. The final spot on the podium went to the #69 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari of Thierry Vermeulen and Giacomo Altoè, who climbed from 11th on the grid to bag a fine result. Behind, Konsta Lappalainen brought the sister #14 car home in fourth.
The #48 Winward Racing Team Mann-Filter Mercedes-AMG finished fifth from 21st on the grid after a stellar comeback drive from Maro Engel and Lucas Auer. Indeed, Auer was one of the stars of the race, making several crucial passes to take a good haul of points from a difficult outing for Mercedes-AMG.

Sixth overall went to the #30 Team WRT BMW, which earned Silver Cup victory thanks to Calan Williams and Sam De Haan. This was an impressive drive from the pair, resulting in a truly dominant win. The #52 AF Corse Ferrari was class runner-up, finishing 12 places back, with the #57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG in P3.  

Gilles Magnus and Paul Evrard earned a second successive Gold Cup win by finishing 13th overall in the #25 Saintéloc Racing Audi. Liqui Moly Team Engstler by OneGroup took second in class with its Audi, while Racing Team Turkey banked a maiden podium with its #51 Ferrari. 

Bronze Cup honours went to #54 Dinamic GT Porsche, which had run at the front of the overall order with Dienst before being taken over by Philipp Sager. The Austrian suffered bodywork damage during his stint and came under late pressure from Darren Leung (#991 Century Motorsport BMW) but survived to capture a deserved win. Leung had an off-track moment during his pursuit of the Porsche, allowing the #85 Imperiale Racing Lamborghini and the #66 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi to take the podium positions.

A busy day at Misano will conclude with another 60-minute race, which takes place under the lights at 21:00 CEST. Weerts and Vanthoor will start from pole position, with Rossi and Martin lining up fifth as they go in search of a third straight victory at the Italian venue.

• Provisional Result: Misano Race 1