Laurens Vanthoor and Max Gotz shared the remaining Blancpain championships after a nightmare weekend for their rivals in Baku.
Both Gotz’s team-mate Max Buhk and the Grasser pair of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Hari Proczyk suffered abysmal weekends, failing to register a single point between them and surrendering their title chances.
But Vanthoor and co-driver Cesar Ramos cruised to victory in both sprint and main races, their only real challenge coming from the impressive pace of Beechdean AMR’s Vantage.
The weekend started well for the #84 crew, despite not scoring and finishing a disappointing ninth German Gotz sealed the Sprint Series title after the #26 faltered.
Bleekemolen had handed the Lamborghini over to Proczyk at the start of the pit window with the car in position to gain the more than the point needed to keep the title hopes alive.
Proczyk soon began to slip down the order as first the Gallardo’s bonnet and then the entire front bodywork began to work their way loose.
He battled on and looked like he had done enough to hang on for the vital extra digit when race control intervened, demanding the Grasser squad fix the now dangerously loose carbon fibre.
The team manfully complied with the order, affixing most of Azerbaijan’s duct tape to the front of the Lamborghini before sending Proczyk forlornly back onto the track to trundle home to 15th place.
None of that troubled Vanthoor and Ramos though, as the pair cruised to victory nearly two seconds clear of Johnny Adam and Andy Soucek and 16 ahead of the rest of the pack.
The WRT pair then stormed to victory in the second race, astonishingly their first main race victory of the season.
After challenging for the lead at the start Adam and Soucek held on as best they could behind the Audi R8, but could never get closer than two seconds.
Behind them the star of the opening exchanges was Rene Rast. The German had brought the #2 from 25th on the grid into the top ten when he came up behind the championship contenders.
The flying Rast caught Gotz and the slower R8 of Niki Mayr-Melnhof rapidly and when the SLS was balked by an early braking #6 at the first hairpin he made his move.
Rast tried a cutback, and looked to have succeeded with Gotz settling for the outside line on exit guaranteeing the inside line for the following chicane.
But, to Gotz’s fury, Rast could not control the back-end of the Audi. He lost grip and slid wide into the Mercedes, bouncing off the front and slamming the pair of them into the wall.
The #84’s race was over immediately, and with it Buhk’s chances of the overall title. Gotz limped the car to an escape road and watched replays of the incident on a big screen with a look of absolute fury as the R8 slunk away and retired further round the lap.
After the pit stops Vanthoor stretched away to seven seconds clear while all eyes were on the battle for third.
Having taken over the #6 Marcus Winklehock set about chasing down Stephane Ortelli in the #9 WRT car.
Winklehock stalked his prey for several laps before getting an almighty run into the final hairpin, despite clipping the outside wall on the long run to the final hairpin.
Ortelli appeared to hold firm, forcing the Phoenix machine to try to find the undercut as they exited the corner. But to the German’s delight Ortelli misjudge the grip levels, slewing sideways as he tried to put the power down and allowing Winklehock an easy pass for third,
Vanthoor cruised to victory, allowing his lead to be whittled down to 2.2 seconds while being careful around dropped oil, Soucek brought the Aston home in another creditable second while Winklehock took third.
Kelvin van der Linde and Christopher Mies race ended spectacularly as the #777 Audi speared straight off at the first hairpin, narrowly avoiding the waiting marshalls, but leaving Prosperia ABT Racing with a hefty repair bill to end the season.
In silver cup Miguel Toril and Benji Hetherington did their best to overcome Vincent Abril and Mateusz Lisowski’s huge championship lead, but a cruise to fourth in class by Abril meant the WRT pair sealed the championship.
The disastrous weekend for HTP, which also included smashes for the #85 car, saw them surrender both the Sprint and Overall teams championships to WRT.
Despite managing no points from the weekend either, Proczyk and Bleekemolen’s car died mid way through race two, Grasser sealed third in both championships.