Thomas Neubauer survived a charging Maro Engel to give AKKA ASP a surprise victory in the first Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe race on his debut appearance in GT3 machinery.
The 19-year-old Frenchman shared the No. 89 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with reigning Silver Cup champion Nico Bastian and impressively remained out front for his entire stint.
He inherited the lead in the pit stop with a rapid 43.2-second stop, going two seconds quicker than the Black Falcon Mercedes of Engel and early leader Luca Stolz.
Mercedes-AMG factory driver Engel was unable to find enough pace to pass Neubauer and eventually settled for runner-up position, a little over two seconds behind the winner.
Grasser Racing Team completed the top three with its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart.
The former started second and chased Stolz throughout the opening stint but lost time in the stops to Engel, dropping to third.
Neubauer is competing in GT3 machinery for the first time this weekend after brief outings in Ferrari Challenge earlier this year, following a season in Formula Renault competition last year.
Bastian started from third and remained in position for his entire stint, running behind Stolz and Bortolotti.
The race ran behind the safety car for ten minutes early on, after a crash at Paddock Hill Bend on the opening lap which took out the No. 5 Phoenix Racing and No. 55 Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos of Kim-Luis Schramm and Steijn Schothorst.
Andrea Caldarelli was judged responsible for the incident and served a 60-second stop/hold penalty before choosing to retire the car.
The Orange 1 FFF Racing Team team manager/driver told the TV crew that he was confused by the decision, claiming he was hit in the right-rear tire by Schothorst.
David Perel and Rinat Salikhov picked up the Pro-Am class win from 13th overall after early leader Louis Machiels crashed into the tire barrier at Stirlings.
Race 2 will start at 4:35 p.m. local time (11:35 a.m. EDT).
RESULTS: Race 1