A Ferrari on the podium and one still in contention for the Pro-Am class title: this is the final balance sheet of the first race of the final round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge held on the Hungaroring circuit. The 488 GT3 courtesy of AF Corse, driven by Andrea Bertolini and Louis Machiels, ended the day claiming the lowest step of the podium in a race made particularly troublesome by the pouring rain that had lashed the track located a few kilometres outside Budapest. The Ferrari of Rinaldi Racing, second in the general standings prior to the race, finished fourth but has yet to face Race-2 to be able to seal the title.
The race got underway under the auspices of the Safety Car which allowed the drivers to get used to the wet asphalt before pitting three laps later. The particularly arduous conditions and the lack of grip on the surface worked against Salikhov who was overtaken by Hamaguchi. Behind were the two Ferrari of Louis Machiels and Florian Scholze who, unmatched in Am class, were free to swoop and overcome the Belgian, lying in 25th overall position. While the rain continued to batter the Hungarian circuit, the mandatory pit stop window opened, which saw Salikhov hand over the 488 GT3 to David Perel, while Machiels passed on the wheel to Andrea Bertolini. Scholze, instead, dragged out his presence on the track to the maximum, coming into the pit-lane 25 minutes before the chequered flag to make way for Wolfgang Triller. On track Andrea Bertolini used his experience to make ground and overtake Perel who, due to contact, was forced to struggle on with damaged bodywork and rear end.
Despite a final crescendo, and thanks to a frenetic pace, Andrea Bertolini was unable to get the better of Phil Keen and Jim Pla, second and first respectively in Pro-Am class, but finished the race in the slipstream of the two cars. Perel, meanwhile, had to face an even greater gap, although his fourth final place does not completely rule out chances for the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari, although the driver will have to pull out all the stops to make up the twelve points that separate him from the leader in the overall standings.
The only crew in the Am class, Scholze and Triller finished the race in 27th overall position.
The final race of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe gets underway at 15:10 tomorrow.