At the end of a race as exciting as it was intense, the Ferrari 488 GT3 of SMP Racing driven by Mikhail Aleshin and official Competizioni GT drivers Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina stamped their authority on the third round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, disputed today at the British circuit of Silverstone.
Immediate Safety Car. At the start the group managed to pass unscathed through the test of Copse, but were less fortunate at Maggots and Becketts, where the middle of the pack became the scene of a spin and contacts, resulting in a multiple collision, eliminating from the race, among others, Rinaldi Racing’s Ferrari number 488 of Pierre Ehret and forcing the Safety Car onto the track. The operation for removing the cars proved to be lengthy and the race was able to restart some 2h37′ from the end. Aleshin, at the wheel of SMP Racing’s car, occupied eleventh position, while Chris Buncombe and Hommerson, twentieth and twenty-second respectively, were first and second in Pro-Am.
At the stroke of the first hour, the Ferrari of HB Racing, with Jens Liebhauser behind the wheel, ended up in the sand at Luffield, causing a Full Course Yellow, forcing the Safety Car back out on track. At the restart, Molina, who in the meantime had replaced Aleshin, after climbing to third spot, attacked and outflanked Ezequiel Perez Companc in the Audi and tried to close down the six second deficit with leader Phil Keen in the Lamborghini.
Six minutes later the race again went Full Course Yellow after an accident involving a Lamborghini, subsequently calling out the Safety Car for a third time. Eleven minutes before the stopwatch signalled the second hour, the race resumed its normal course and Molina, after seeing his attack on Keen fended off, had to endure being overtaken by Caldarelli and Mauron.
Rigon on the attack. Fifty-two minutes from the chequered flag, Molina went in for a late pit stop for the driver change, handing over to Davide Rigon. When the Italian driver got back on the track and the situation in the standings had stabilized after the pit stops, the Ferrari number 72 was holding second position behind Venturini’s Lamborghini. After catching his rival up, Rigon and Venturini began a twenty-minute duel, culminating seventeen laps from the chequered flag with a splendid overtaking manoeuvre by Rigon at Luffield. Once he had taken the lead in the race, the official Competizioni GT driver stretched the distance over his pursuers and crossed the finish line in first place, handing the SMP Racing team and the Ferrari 488 GT3 their first success of the year in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. The result sees Mikhail Aleshin, Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina climb to second place in the standings, just one point off the top.
Podium in Pro-Am. In the Pro-Am class, after so many disappointments and bad luck, the AF Corse Ferrari entrusted to Niek Hommerson, Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini finished second in the race less than three seconds behind Ram Racing’s Mercedes, while the 488 GT3 of Tempesta Racing of Chris Buncombe, Jonathan Hui and Chris Froggatt, after the victory in Monza, completed the three-hour race in fourth position.
Ferrari narrowly missed out on the podium in the Silver Cup, with Rinaldi Racing and its crew of Rinat Salikhov, Denis Bulatov and David Perel fourth past the chequered flag, while in the AM class the Maranello cars finished in fifth and sixth place, with the HB Racing and Rinaldi Racing teams.
Round 4. The next round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup will be staged at the Le Castellet circuit with the Paul Ricard 1000 km scheduled for May 31st and June 1st.