Brands Hatch BSS: Szymkowiak and Schneider dominate Qualifying Race
HTP Motorsport pairing Jules Szymkowiak and Bernd Schneider took a confident victory in the Blancpain Sprint Qualifying Race at Brands Hatch.
Second in qualifying, Szymkowiak claimed the lead after the start, passing Franck Perera on the outside of T1.
The Dutchman built a lead of two seconds in just one lap, taking advantage of Christopher Mies applying pressure on Perera.
Despite closely following Perera for most of the first stint, Mies could not claim second before the pit stop window opened.
With Szymkowiak stretching his advantage to over five seconds before pitting, his teammate Bernd Schneider comfortably rejoined in the lead - with Marlon Stockinger and Enzo Ide replacing Perera and Mies in an unchanged order.
Running a supreme pace, Schneider quickly extended his gap to over 10 seconds and comfortably cruised to the finish.
Similarly to his teammate, Stockinger failed to build a safe gap in second but, having not put a foot wrong, the sportscar rookie secured his first podium in the series.
While the second HTP car, driven by Jazeman Jaafar, lost a couple of seconds behind Mies in the first half of the race, Clemens Schmid quickly recovered but failed to pass Ide.
Although Laurens Vanthoor could not to make up ground from eighth on the grid, the #1 Audi WRT car gained three places in the pits and finished fifth in the hands of Frederic Vervisch, followed by the sister car of Robin Frijns and Dries Vanthoor.
The latter made a move on Nicolas Pohler for the spot, the German and his teammate Mirko Bortolotti finishing seventh.
Despite running fifth and sixth in the first stint, the McLaren of Alvaro Parente and Rob Bell and the Mercedes of Tristan Vautier and Felix Rosenqvist only took eighth and ninth after slow pitstops.
M-Sport's Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek inherited the final top 10 spot after a drive-through penalty for Dominik Baumann for an overly aggressive overtake on Bell.
Rowe Racing out to bounce back at England’s iconic Brands Hatch
Brands Hatch BSS: Mies and Ide victorious in Main Race