Fred Makowiecki and Stef Dusseldorp lost their outside chance of claiming the FIA GT1 World Championship title at the Donington Park finale, despite winning the qualifying race on Saturday afternoon in their Hexis McLaren.
A swift mandatory pitstop put Dusseldorp out ahead of the Reiter Lamborghini of Stefan Rosina and Peter Kox, which had led the race since the second lap.
Despite a safety car period eroding his lead, Makowiecki kept a handy advantage over the WRT Audi R8 LMS of Laurens Vanthoor to the finish, which had led the opening lap in co-driver Adam Carroll's hands.
Carroll lost the lead to Rosina at Redgate at the start of lap two, as he got a terrible exit from the final corner due to struggling with tire temperature.
A tardy pitstop from the Lamborghini dropped it to third, and despite the best efforts of Kox, which included a minor collision at the Melbourne Hairpin, Vanthoor kept him at bay to finish second.
Kox dropped to fourth at the finish, unable to hold off the star of the race, Alvaro Parente in the second Hexis McLaren. Having started on the last row of the grid, the car ran near the back in the hands of Gregoire Demoustier, but when Parente took over - helped by the safety car - he charged through the pack, driving from 10th to third.
Behind Kox, championship leaders Markus Winkelhock and Marc Basseng extended their lead by two points in their Munnich Mercedes SLS to three over the Vita4One BMW Z4 of Yelmer Buurman and Michael Bartels.
Winkelhock made a trademark brilliant start to rocket from 10th to fifth, and they used teammates Thomas Jager/Nicky Pastorelli as an effective tailgunner to keep the BMW at bay. Twice, the Munnich cars swapped places to keep the points-leading car in front and out of trouble.
This proved wise when a late collision between Pastorelli and Bartels sent the BMW scurrying to the pits for a new left-front tire due to a buckled wheelrim.
Bartels finished ninth, out of the points.
But the two points that Winkelhock/Basseng recorded were enough to rule the Hexis McLaren out of the title race, so it will be a straight fight between Mercedes and BMW on Sunday, with the Mercedes starting four places ahead of its rival.