Rino Mastronardi can officially celebrate his title in the Le Mans Cup after victory in the last round of the season at Portimão. The race saw great twists and turns towards the end and was a real showcase for the two new series’ champions, Iron Lynx and Rino Mastronardi.
Safety Car. Sunshine and mild temperatures framed the scene for the final round of the 2020 Le Mans Cup. Despite the high number of starters, there were no contacts early on. However, the Safety Car was called out after five minutes because of a prototype stuck in the gravel in the second sector. Mastronardi, who was in first before the interruption, quickly regained his pace when hostilities resumed, while Niki Leutwiler’s Porsche passed Broniszewski and John Hartshorne followed in fourth position.
Breakaway. Mastronardi was by far the quickest driver on the track in the GT3 class, with his fastest lap of 1:41.612 half a second better than Leutwiler’s and with a thirty-second lead over Broniszewski, who in the meantime had regained second place just before the stroke of the first hour. The new Le Mans Cup champion handed the wheel to Giacomo Piccini who, after two consecutive titles won with Sergio Pianezzola, can celebrate his crewmate’s success. The two leading Ferraris stopped two minutes from mid-race with David Perel at the wheel for Kessel Racing, while Oliver Hancock took over the Swiss team’s second car, in fourth position, for the last hour of the race.
Pit stop. The time handicap imposed on the Ferraris, and in particular that of Iron Lynx, compacted the standings, with fourteen seconds between the two cars, while the Porsche followed twenty-four seconds behind. Perel kept trying to bridge the gap to Piccini, who managed his lead without taking unnecessary risks. The South African cut the lead to eight seconds with twenty-five minutes to go, while Julien Andlauer’s Porsche followed more than thirty seconds behind. Twenty minutes from the chequered flag, an accident between two prototypes at turn 13 led to another appearance of the Safety Car with one of the cars stuck in the middle of the track.
Battle. The restart, eight minutes from the end, saw a spectacular throttle-down by the two Ferraris with Perel managing to pass Piccini at the end of the straight despite a defence closely scrutinised by the marshals. However, the Italian was able to regain his position immediately. The prototypes that needed to pass the GT3 class cars played a big role in preventing Perel from going back on the attack against Piccini because the Kessel Racing driver had to leave space for them. The South African tried to pass his rival down to the chequered flag but had to settle for second place while Piccini, first over the line, needed to wait for the marshals’ decision to celebrate his third championship victory.