Pole sitter Coach McKansy (#17 HP Racing International Lamborghini Huracan GT3) secured a lights-to-flag victory after a race long battle with 2018 Blancpain GT Sports Club champion Karim Ojjeh (#2 Boutsen Ginion BMW M6 GT3) at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
In the Iron Cup, Stephen Earle (#111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3) made a statement by claiming a commanding victory, closing the gap to Klaus Dieter Frers (#3 Artega Rennsport Ferrari 488 GT3) in the standings to five points with just the Barcelona Main Race left.
It was a good start by Coach McKansy, who led the field away as others scrambled for position behind. Karim Ojjeh brilliantly held off Patrick Van Glabeke (#488 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3) around the outside of Turn 4, with Luigi Lucchini (#7 BMS Scuderia Italia SRL Ferrari 458 GT3) jumping from sixth to fourth.
As the race settled in, Coach McKansy and Karim Ojjeh pulled away from the field, with the Saudi Arabian never more than a second adrift of his German counterpart.
In the second half of the 25-minute race, a number of incidents led to an eventual Full Course Yellow, with Frederic Fangio (#53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3), Roberto Rayneri (#60 GDL Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3) and the fast-starting Vadim Kogay (#333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GT3) – who was up to sixth at one stage – all having offs.
Once racing got underway again, Coach McKansy pulled a few car lengths over Karim Ojjeh and remained unchallenged until the end, taking his maiden Blancpain GT Sports Club victory, and closing the gap to Mario Cordoni (#70 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3) in the championship.
Patrick Van Glabeke finished a further seven seconds behind, emulating his 2017 podium here in third place, with Edward Lewis Brauner (#991 Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R) producing a last gasp overtake on Luigi Lucchini to claim fourth.
Behind the Italian, Angélique Detavernier (#55 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3) jumped from eighth to sixth to claim the final point after capitalising on Vadim Kogay and getting ahead of Jürgen Häring (#66 Heberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R), who narrowly missed out on points for only the second time in the last six races.
Stephen Earle may not have picked up overall points for eighth, but the Iron Cup victory means that it’s a straight fight for the championship in tomorrow’s Main Race. If either Klaus Dieter Frers or the American win the race, they are champion.
The race winner is also part of the Titanium Cup, with Karim Ojjeh and Jürgen Häring completing the new-for-2018 class podium.
That all-important Barcelona Main Race gets underway tomorrow at 12:05 and you can watch it on YouTube, as well as our website and Facebook page.