The Paul Ricard 1000km finished with the Ferrari crews present on the podium after taking second outright place and third in the AM class, in the third round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
Championship leader. After the extraordinary success at Silverstone, the 488 GT3 of SMP Racing re-established itself on the podium with a second final place clinched behind the winning Bentley of M-Sport, although not without regrets. After starting from fifteenth position on the grid, various contacts in the early stages of the race forced the number 72 into an early pit-stop whose negative effects were nevertheless mitigated, on more than one occasion, by both the entry of the Safety Car as well as the Full Course Yellow phases. Mikhail Aleshin and Davide Rigon, pushing hard respectively in the initial and middle periods of the race, managed to stay on the same lap as the leader thanks to an excellent pace, before finally managing to retake the lead with Miguel Molina at the wheel. A little over ninety minutes before the chequered flag, an infraction in the Ferrari pit-stop procedure was sanctioned by race authorities with a drive-through. Once completed, the Spaniard was forced to abandon hope of a victory and instead set about defending his second place from the attempts by pursuers to pull back. With this result, the team’s crew gain further points in the overall Endurance Cup standings which currently see them holding first position.
Rinaldi Racing among the top finishers. On the lowest step of the podium in the AM class, however, was the Rinaldi Racing 488 GT3, at the hands of Pierre Ehret, Martin Berry and Jose Manuel Balbiani. The 488 car held a steady second position for long stretches of the race before slipping down to third in the final minutes. Another car from the German team, the one entered in the Silver Cup with David Perel, Denis Bulatov and Rinat Salikhov, nevertheless proved to be one of the race’s most splendid protagonists, posted fourth place after passing more than half the race in among the top three outright positions. A drive-through and several unlucky episodes put paid to the team’s hopes of a joyous result and a well-deserved podium.
On the rise. Likewise, narrowly missing out on a podium place was the AF Corse car, number 52, in the Pro-Am class, who were unable to obtain a better result after a non-scheduled stop due to front splitter damage, while Niek Hommerson, Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini finished at the head of the class. Sixth place for Chris Buncombe, Jonathan Hui and Chris Froggatt in Tempesta Racing’s 488 GT3. The other two Ferraris involved in the French race, the number 33 of Rinaldi Racing and the 444 of HB Racing failed to make it to the finish line, forced to retire due to two accidents.
Confident for Spa. The next stop for the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup is the long-awaited 24 Hours of Spa, scheduled at the Belgian track from 25th to 28th July.