Ferrari Taste Victory At 24 Hours of Spa in AM Cup

Rinaldi Racing wins Am Cup at 24 Hours of Spa

At the end of an intense and challenging 24 Hours of Spa heavily affected by poor weather, the Ferrari 488 GT3 of Rinaldi Racing with Alexander Mattschull, Manuel Lauck, Hendrik Still and Christian Hook, won the Am class, while Prancing Horse cars were unlucky to miss out on a podium in the overall standings that had looked within reach.

Rain and flags. In a year that will be remembered for record temperatures (over 42°C) on the free practice and qualifying days and the torrential rain that marked most of the 24 hours of the race,  breaks and twists made an already tough Belgian marathon even more so. Fourteen Full Course Yellows, 11 appearances by the Safety Car, an interruption by the red flag lasting over six hours due to prohibitive weather conditions and more than 20 withdrawals, give some idea of the trials and tribulations faced by the drivers.

Am. At the end of this ultra-tough marathon, the 488 GT3 driven by Alexander Mattschull, Manuel Lauck, Hendrik Still and Christian Hook won the Am class after leading a race that was decided in the last two hours when the German team’s car got the better of the Lamborghinis of Barwell Motorsport and Raton Racing, which crossed the chequered flag respectively one and two laps behind. The other two Ferraris in the event finished off the podium, with that of HB Racing crewed by Florian Scholze, Philipp Wlazik, Jens Liebhauser and Thomas Neubauer in fourth, and Rinaldi Racing’s second car fifth with Pierre Ehret, Martin Berry, Jose Manuel Balbiani and Rory Penttinen.

Pro. This unpredictable race could have ended better for the Prancing Horse cars given their performances, in particular, the 488 GT3 of SMP Racing that held the race lead at the stroke of the sixth and twelfth hour, collecting all the points available. Unfortunately, during a very hectic period, while he was notionally in second position, Mikhail Aleshin collided with a lapped car, damaging the suspension and front splitter. The mechanics managed to put the car back on track after just five laps, and Davide Rigon tried to complete the race to secure some potentially decisive championship points. However, the team preferred to call car no. 72 definitively back to the pits. The crew of Ferrari no. 51 of AF Corse of Alessandro Pier Guidi, Sam Bird and James Calado can also look back ruefully on this race. The car was forced to make two unplanned stops, the second of which was the ’technical pit’ due to a problem with the ABS sensor on the left rear wheel. However, it was still in with a chance of the top five when a collision with another car on lap 199 lap brought Alessandro Pier Guidi’s race to a close against the barriers. The car of HubAuto Corsa, one of the most eagerly anticipated Ferraris on the eve of the race, was forced to retire in the very early stages when Nick Foster lost control coming out of the Jacky Ickx turn and ended up against the guard rail.

Pro-Am. The Ferrari of Tempesta Racing just missed out on a podium, finishing fourth under the chequered flag with Jonathan Hui, Chris Froggatt, Eddie Cheever III and Giancarlo Fisichella. The result could have been even better, but a problem with the restart after the lengthy red flag break cost the British team many laps. The Ferraris of Scuderia Praha and AF Corse were forced to retire. After damaging the car when it veered off-track during the night, the new champion team in the A6 Pro class of the 24H Series preferred to retire to better prepare for the last 24 hours in the continental series calendar, at Barcelona from August 30 to September 1. AF Corse’s 488 GT3 no. 52, on the other hand, finished its race early due to a double puncture of the rear tyres that Toni Vilander had almost managed to overcome, taking the car as far as the Bus Stop chicane.

Silver Cup. The third car entered by Rinaldi Racing in the Belgian marathon, crewed by David Perel, Rinat Salikhov, Denis Bulatov and Indy Dontje, lost a few laps because of a technical problem and was then forced to retire during lap 118 due to damage after an accident.

Rankings and rounds. The 24 Hours of Spa had a significant influence on the various championship rankings with the points allocated at the stroke of the sixth, twelfth and 24th hour. Despite retiring, the 24 points gained at the intermediate marks by Miguel Molina, Davide Rigon and Mikhail Aleshin leave them on top the standings on 73 points. They are 22 ahead of their closest pursuers, Maro Engel, Yelmer Buurman and Luca Stolz who finished third in a race won by the Porsche of Richard Lietz, Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre. The next race of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup is at Barcelona on 28 and 29 September.

24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – Spa 24 Hours in the driver’s own words

Hear from the Am winners Rinaldi Racing drivers about the Spa 24 Hours, in their own words.

Alexander Mattschull: “It’s a great to be here after the victory last year in the Pro-Am Cup and this year in the Am class. It was a very difficult race, one of the hardest I’ve been in. I am happy to share the podium with my teammates and in particular with the two of them who did a huge job during the night. It is a special honour to be on top of the podium in Spa, especially two years in a row. Hopefully I can be here again next year”.

Christian Hook: “We had a fantastic car and a fantastic strategy. We have a great team and the Rinaldi Racing family makes it all really special. This is definitely one of the best results of my career”.
Manuel Lauck: “It is unbelievable to win this race. It was not easy in these weather conditions. We drove with slicks in the wet and with rain tyres in dry conditions. In previous days we had the free practices at over 38°C, which meant over 50°C in the car. It was a very tough weekend, and we had to face every condition that a driver is likely to meet in his career, including a six-hour stop. I am really happy and thank my teammates and Rinaldi Racing”

Hendrik Still: “The conditions were crazy. Two laps before the race was stopped I said to the team that the race officials should halt the race because conditions were too dangerous to continue. Despite slowing down many cars had accidents. I was expecting to have one myself because it was impossible to drive in these conditions. I am very happy that we survived and I would like to thank my teammates who trusted in me to be here as a guest star and to support them”

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