Stephen Errity, GT correspondent
After the rain and gloom of Easter Sunday, bright and dry weather greeted the GT1 World competitors for Easter Monday's full-points championship race. Several drivers made blisteringly good starts off the grid – some a little too good, as subsequent jump-start penalties would reveal.
Stephane Ortelli and Frank Stippler held their first and second place grid slots off the start, before Toni Vilander nosed his AF Corse Ferrari into second. Mike Parisy in the first of the Team China Porsches was also looking racy in the early stages, but before long both cars were called in to serve drive-through penalties for jumping the lights.
Hexis Racing's Fred Makowiecki was another demon starter, but his rapid charge was brought to a rapid halt by throttle response problems in the McLaren MP4-12C. Alvaro Parente's similar retirement shortly after the pitstops brought the curtain down on a nightmare weekend for the defending GT1 team champions.
Back on track, Enzo Ide had made a genuine strong start in the second AF Corse Ferrari, but was struggling to defend his fourth position. He first lost out to Parisy, who then had to serve his penalty, before All-Inkl driver-manager Marc Basseng got the bit between his teeth in the Mercedes SLS AMG and took what had become third place after Parisy was removed from contention.
Ortelli was the first of the leading duo to pit, so Frank Stippler in the second WRT Audi upped his pace sufficiently to see the #33 car take the lead after the stops, now with Oliver Jarvis at the wheel. Vanthoor had taken over the #32 from Ortelli, however, and was not about to let a second victory of the weekend slip away. His first passing attempt was an over-ambitious lunge that was never going to work, and Jarvis was able to retake the lead when Vanthoor ran wide on the corner exit. But the Belgian ex-F3 racer refocused and pulled off a more measured move several laps later to take the lead definitively.
The WRT drivers' infighting had allowed Markus Winkelhock to close up to them, after taking over the #38 All-Inkl Mercedes from Basseng at the stops. He didn't quite have the pace to challenge for second, however, and led team-mate Thomas Jaeger over the line to head up a 3-4 finish for the German team.
The two AF Corse Ferraris also finished in formation, taking fifth and sixth ahead of the Reiter Engineering Lamborghinis in seventh and eighth. Peter Kox had used every trick in the book to try to get ahead of Filip Salaquarda's 458 in the closing stages, but just couldn't find a way past, while Tomas Enge showed some of the pace he'd enjoyed in race one's opening stint as he clawed back places lost by his co-driver Albert von Thurn und Taxis off the start.
BMW Team Vita4One were well off the pace in this race, as they had been all weekend, and must be wondering if they've been dealt a harsh card by the GT1 Balance of Performance regulations.