The Ferrari 488 GT3 no. 8 of Kessel Racing, crewed by Sergio Pianezzola and Giacomo Piccini, triumphed in its category in the sixth round of the Le Mans Cup held last weekend at Portimão (Portugal). For the second consecutive year, the two Italian drivers won automatic qualification for the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans, along with the class drivers’ and teams’ titles.
At the start, under a thick blanket of clouds, Lavergne drove the 488 GT3 of Luzich Racing into the lead before crashing after a few turns, while trying to avoid an LMP3 car that had spun out. The French driver needed a lengthy pit stop to change a punctured tyre and repair the damage to the rear of the car, thus waving goodbye to any hope of victory. The Ferrari no. 8 with Pianezzola at the wheel started at the back of the grid due of a technical problem, which meant it didn’t pass the scrutineering on Saturday or then participate in qualifying. However, this prompted a formidable comeback that saw the car immediately seize top spot in the category.
The initial stages of the race included a double Full Course Yellow after the Nissan Norma M 30 of Graff and the Ferrari 488 GT3 no. 51 of Spirit of Race exited the track. At mid-race, the cars returned to the pit lane for the mandatory stop and driver change. Giacomo Piccini then took the wheel of the 488 GT3 no. 8. He had a six-second advantage to defend over the Mercedes SPS no. 54 of AutomotivePerformance driven by Yannick Mettler, who was trailed by Ross Gunn in the Aston Martin no. 99 of Beechean AMR. After a few laps, Piccini’s car left the track following a brush with a higher category car attempting a pass. The Italian, however, managed to keep his Ferrari in the race, but his lead over Gunn (who, in the meantime, had passed Mettler) shrank to just three seconds. Another six-minute FCY to remove debris from the track eased the way for the Kessel Racing driver, who only needed a 0.6 second lead over his rival at the chequered flag to secure victory.