Blancpain GT Endurance Cup – Race
AF Corse, Andrea Bertolini and Louis Machiels have clinched the championship titles in the Blancpain GT Series Pro-AM team and driver classes. The result came as the final championship event, organised by the SRO, drew to a close on the Barcelona circuit.
The race was heavily hampered by a very lengthy period of Safety Car incursion and Full Course Yellow which curbed the flow of the competition. The Pro-Am class title came thanks to the tenacity of the #52 crew, who ended up in the gravel on the first lap after contact with the leader of the standings and a sixth final place that sealed the title honours. On the podium at the end of the race, meanwhile, was the Tempesta Racing 488 GT3, which allowed Chris Buncombe, Jonathan Hui and Chris Froggatt to conclude in third place.
Third place also in the Silver Cup for the Ferrari courtesy of Rinaldi Racing, driven by Rinat Salikhov, Denis Bulatov and David Perel, who delivered a very positive showing, posting eighth overall, thanks to a stunning overtake from the South African driver on the final lap.
Eighth place in the class, thirteenth overall, meant the SMP Racing of Miguel Molina, Davide Rigon and Mikhail Aleshin missed out on the Endurance Cup championship honours. The race for the Russian squad came unglued on the opening lap when the 488 GT3, with Aleshin at the wheel, got rear-ended although race stewards subsequently failed to sanction the Mercedes involved. The contact made, besides damaging the tail-end of the car, also caused a rear-right puncture, forcing the Russian to restart from the bottom of the order. The squad kept cool heads and clawed back positions in spite of the constant interruptions due to multiple contacts and accidents. Any hopes of bagging precious championship points nevertheless vanished when Molina got lumbered with a drive-though after contact with a Bentley at the track’s final chicane. Once the penalty had been paid, the Spaniard endeavoured to make up positions, getting as far as eighth. The Italian-Russian-Spanish trio finished just one point shy of the champions, Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli.
In the AM class, the Barcelona race saw the 488 GT3 of Rinaldi Racing up on the podium with Steve Parrow, Christian Hook and Manuel Lauck, third past the chequered flag, followed by the sister car of Pierre Ehret, Martin Berry and Rory Penttinen.