Exim Bank Corvette's Yelmer Buurman and Francesco Pastorelli successfully negotiated an unruly championship race at San Luis, to complete a remarkable double victory in their World GT1 debut.
The rookie duo escaped a wild startline crash to come home victorious by four seconds as several potential challengers were hit with penalties.
"The team helped both Francesco and me enormously in learning the car," said a jubilant Buurman. "I really like this championship, but for the time being I am going to focus on single-seaters, though. No offence, but I can still do this when I am older, single-seaters is now or never."
Hexis Aston Martin overturned a substantial points deficit entering the meeting to win the GT1 teams' world title. Clivio Piccione and Stef Dusseldorp took third place for the French squad, behind the No. 47 DKR Lamborghini, while Andrea Piccini and Christian Hohenadel brought their bonnet-less Hexis DBR9 home in fifth.
The rolling start proved chaotic. A multi-car pile-up was triggered when Enrique Bernoldi's Sumo Power Nissan was squeezed on the right by co-champion Lucas Luhr, in the front row starting JRM Nissan, and on the left by the No. 37 All-Inkl Lamborghini of Dominik Schwager and Nicky Pastorelli.
Luhr was spun across Bernoldi's nose, and clipped Alex Muller's Young Driver Aston Martin into a spin. A number of unfortunate runners on the outside of the grid were also collected. Both All-Inkl Lamborghinis, Jonathan Kennard's similar DKR machine, Luhr and David Brabham's Sumo Nissan retired in the incident.
Friday morning's pacesetting DKR Lamborghini of Manuel Lauck and Christopher Haase exited Turn 2 in second place behind Pastorelli, and the Germans would eventually emerge with the runner-up spot at the checkered flag. However, both Lauck and Pastorelli were overtaken under safety-car conditions by the recovering Muller Aston Martin, which led until lap 12 before serving a drive-through penalty for his infringement.
Peter Dumbreck's JRM Nissan then assumed the lead ahead of the Piccione/Hohenadel Aston and Haase's Murcielago in third. A lost wheel nut had cost Buurman considerable time in his pit stop, but the charging Dutchman scythed from fourth to second in two laps.
Scotsman Dumbreck's hopes of victory then ended when he was served with a drive-through penalty for an earlier indiscretion committed by team-mate Richard Westbrook. Like Muller, Westbrook had overtaken a number of cars behind the safety car on the opening lap.
Bernoldi and Nicky Catsburg's battle-scarred Sumo GT-R came home fourth, and the Markus Palttala/Antoine Leclerc Ford GT (Belgian Racing) completed the top six.
Results - 22 laps:
Pos Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Pastorelli/Buurman Exim Corvette 1h02m00.695s
2. Lauck/Haase DKR Lamborghini + 4.043s
3. Piccione/Dusseldorp Hexis Aston + 13.224s
4. Bernoldi/Catsburg Sumo Power Nissan + 21.189s
5. Hohenadel/Piccini Hexis Aston + 24.786s
6. Palttala/Leclerc Belgian Ford + 29.243s
7. Hirschi/Nygaard Belgian Ford + 30.790s
8. Westbrook/Dumbreck JRM Nissan + 32.386s
9. Leinders/Risatti Marc VDS Ford + 34.467s
10. Muller/Enge Young Driver Aston + 35.269s
Martin/Clairay Marc VDS Ford 21 laps
Rossi/Verdonck Exim Corvette 6 laps
Luhr/Krumm JRM Nissan 0 laps
Schwager/Pastorelli All-Inkl Lamborghini 0 laps
Winkelhock/Basseng All-Inkl Lamborghini 0 laps
Brabham/Campbell-Walter Sumo Power Nissan 0 laps
Kennard/Bruck DKR Lamborghini 0 laps