A hell of a race weekend for Rinaldi Racing at the sprint finale at the Nürburgring.
Rinaldi Racing went to the finale of the Blancpain Sprint Series at the Nürburgring. At the home race, the team from Mendig entered two Ferrari 488 GT3s in the ProAm class. The driver pairings were Alexander Mattschull and Daniel Keilwitz on car number 333, and Rinat Salikhov and Matteo Malucelli on the 488.
The final was about the championship title in the ProAm class for start number 333. The team led by a margin of 10 points, while the drivers enjoyed a lead of 13 points.
On Saturday morning in the first qualifying session, Mattschull and Salikhov managed to secure the top two positions in the class. In the second qualifying session, Keilwitz in particular was convincing and put the Ferrari in second overall and first in class. Unfortunately, the sister car was hit twice hard: both times the fastest lap was ended by a red flag. Therefore, it was only enough for fifth place in class. In the third qualifying session, Keilwitz was able to put the Ferrari in fifth place overall and thus also secured pole in the ProAm class. An important starting position in the first race for the championship, as they left their competitors far behind.
In the qualifying race, Keilwitz got off to a great start from the third row of the grid and secured second overall position right after the first corner. Although he had to relinquish the position in the following corner, he was able to hold on to the third overall position thanks to a good speed. Now it was time to extend the lead on the competitors from the class. Malucelli, for his part, was able to maintain his position and moved closer to his direct rivals. Mattschull extended his lead in the class more and more after his stop. After the stop of the #488, Salikhov was able to gain some positions and caught the fiercest competitor of the #333 in a great overtaking manoeuvre. Thus Rinaldi Racing celebrated a double victory in the ProAm class. A great result for the qualifying race with a view to the main race on Sunday.
On Sunday, the team’s nerves were slightly tense. Nevertheless, they focused on the race. Although they had extended their lead on Saturday (team 13 points and drivers 18 points ahead), they did not want to leave anything to chance.
At the start of the main race on Sunday, everything went smoothly for both cars. Unfortunately, the #488 was told by radio that it had a puncture. After leaving the pits, the team dropped back to fifth place in the ProAm class and was therefore no longer able to provide support for the sister car. For the #333, on the other hand, everything went like clockwork. Mattschull was able to maintain the lead in the ProAm class until the pit stop. Now the last half hour of the race was running and the nail-biting began. The Ferrari’s lap times were good and Keilwitz stayed out of everything. The last minutes seemed like an eternity and the whole team was waiting for the end of the race. In the end, Rinaldi Racing was not only jubilant about the victory, but also about winning the team and drivers’ championship in the Sprint Series.
We may also congratulate Alexander Mattschull on the Blancpain GT Series Overall ProAm Drivers’ Championship.
Michele Rinaldi: “This was a very important race weekend for us. Saturday went perfectly with the double victory. Sunday was nerve-wracking, but we did everything right. Many thanks to the whole team who put in a great performance throughout the season. Also a big thank you to both drivers Alexander Mattschull and Daniel Keilwitz. It is very nice to see how both of them have improved over and over again. We would also like to thank our partners and fans who have supported us throughout the season. Also, praise to our partner and strongest competitor Kessel Racing. Throughout the season the cooperation was very good and on the track, they were always a fair opponent. Also thanks to Michelotto – the Ferrari 488 GT3 is a great race car. Ferrari is the only manufacturer to live out customer sport.”