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Valentino Rossi Wins in Misano as BMW Dominate GTWC Round 5 Sprint

Written by Owen Bradley

The GT World Challenge Europe returns to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for the second round of the Sprint cup. Home hero Valentino Rossi took victory in race 2 last year, Rossi's first victory in GT Racing, and a popular victory with the Italian crowd. Can "The Doctor" replicate the success of last season?

Race 1

Maxime Martin #46 BMW would lead the field, maintaining the lead after taking pole position on Friday evening. Martin would have a slim lead over the #54 Porsche, pulling away on the straights where the BMW seemed exceptionally strong, but the Porsche catching the #46 BMW in the low speed corners.

Dries Vanthoor #32 BMW has initially taken pole position before the lap time was deleted for track limits. Fighting back through the field, Vanthoor started from sixth on the grid, and within 10 minutes was already behind the rear wing of the #14 Ferrari driven by Ben Green.

The BMW and Ferrari would make light contact as Vanthoor became increasingly frustrated. Just one lap later in the final sector, the BMW #32 would draw alongside the #14 Ferrari on the long back straight, attempting to go around the outside at the triple right hander, the pair rubbing on each corner. The BMW would bump into the Ferrari, unsettling the #14 Ferrari and leading to the car running wide, ceasing position to the BMW #32 for third place. However, the contact between the cars would be noted, as Vanthoor would set the fastest lap of the race, the BMW's clearly the strongest car at Misano.

The #99 Audi driven by Ricardo Feller would have a puncture after some heavy damage, pitting just 15 minutes into the race and spraying some debris across the circuit.

Championship leaders Maro Engel and Lucas Auer would struggle during the first race, a difficult qualifying from outside the top 20, led to the pair needing to fight back through the field in the #48 Mercedes.

Within a few laps, the #32 BMW had already closed on second place #54 Porsche. A few minutes away from the pit stop window, with most drivers opting to stay out and use their quicker driver, Maxime Martin #46 BMW would still lead the way, with the sister #32 BMW not far away and closing.

The #32 BMW attempted to make a move on the inside of Turn 7 on the #54 Porsche, the pair battling as Maxime Martin pitted, with Valentino Rossi jumping behind the wheel.

Just one lap later, the #32 BMW of Dries Vanthoor would come into the pits, opting to try the undercut strategy as the #54 Porsche stayed out on track. Another Audi would have a puncture, the #26 Audi making light contact and picking up a puncture, the second Audi of the race.

The #88 Audi of Lorenzo Ferrari was running in sixth position, however after exceeding the track limits would be given a 5-second penalty. All of the Audi's seemingly lacked pace and tyre grip, with Lorenzo Ferrari attempting to hold sixth from Patric Niederhauser's #96 Porsche and championship leaders #48 Mercedes, who were battling for a top five finish with 20 minutes remaining, after starting from 21st place.

Heartbreak for the #54 Porsche, who was running in second place earlier in the race, fell back down through the order after some heavy damage exposed the front right tyre. Weerts #32 BMW was chasing Valentino Rossi's #46 BMW for the lead of the race, closing in to under one second before lapped traffic would disrupt the #32 BMW, giving Rossi an extended lead with around 10 minutes remaining.

Lucas Auer #48 Mercedes would manage to overtake the #96 Porsche of Niederhauser at Turn 2 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the race. Just one lap later, the #48 Mercedes would fly past the #88 Audi which was struggling heavily for front tyre grip, unable to turn into the sharp corners as quick as the Mercedes. The Mercedes using the straight line speed and corner exit to get a run on the Audi on the back straight, taking the inside line for the triple right-hander.

#72 Lamborghini would be caught in a spin, eventually being caught by the leading #46 BMW driven by Valentino Rossi, who was held up by the Lamborghini, allowing for the #32 BMW of Charles Weerts to close right onto the rear wing of the sister BMW.

Darren Leung #991 would spin out from the top 10 with just a few minutes remaining, losing the lead of the bronze cup right in the final minutes.

Valentino Rossi would bring the #46 BMW home to take victory at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, the same circuit that he won his first ever GT World Challenge race, now taking his second GT World Challenge race victory and another podium. Charles Weerts would bring the #32 BMW home to take a second place finish, narrowly missing out on a race victory after starting from sixth on the grid.

Race 2

Before the race had fully gotten underway, the #44 Porsche managed to spin itself around at the final corner, making contact with the pit wall and managing to roll off the racing line, stationary on the circuit. Elsewhere, the #007 Aston Martin vantage would be hit into a spin by one of the Audi's, as well as the #991 BMW of Darren Leung who was spun on the exit of Turn 1. Due to these three incidents, a Safety Car was deployed.

The #32 BMW of Charles Weerts led the way from championship-leading #48 Mercedes of Lucas Auer. The #69 Ferrari of Giacomo Altoe was third ahead of the #111 Audi and race 1 winner's #46 BMW.

Valentino Rossi #46 BMW made an overtake on the #111 Audi for fourth place, Rossi chasing the podium places in the hopes of making the Misano weekend his first ever double podium sprint weekend.

The #32 leading BMW would be the first to come into the pit lane of the leading four cars, followed by the #69 Ferrari just a few seconds later. The #46 BMW would come in one lap later, an incredibly fast pit stop by the WRT Team would lead to the #46 BMW being closer to the sister leading #32 BMW.

The #46 BMW took third place from the #69 Ferrari in the pit stops, as the #48 Mercedes began to close back onto the leader.

However, as the race approached 25 minutes to go, it would be the #46 BMW hounding the #48 driven by Maro Engel, taking a few laps to finally overtake the Mercedes, as the pair were closing down on the leading #32 BMW despite the pair battling for the podium places.

The #32 BMW was suspected to have some minor issues, losing time to the cars behind despite being in clean air with no traffic. The cars behind were battling initially, with the gap to the lead coming down to just two seconds between the top three.

With 10 minutes remaining, the top three seemingly were attempting to save their tyres, as Vanthoor #32 BMW managed to stretch the lead by another second.

The #32 BMW of Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts rounded the final corner, to take victory at Misano in Race 2, followed closely by the #48 Mercedes of Maro Engel and Lucas Auer who extend their championship lead. Third place would go to the #46 BMW of Valentino Rossi and Maxime Martin, who took their second podium of two races after their victory in Race 1.

A double podium for Valentino Rossi and Maxime Martin #46 BMW and also the sister BMW #32 of Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts.


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