Last week, Rinaldi Racing went to the highlight of the year, the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

The team from Mendig entered two Ferrari 488 GT3s in the classic race in the Ardennes. The steering wheel work on car number 333 in the ProAm class was shared by Alexander Mattschull, Rinat Salikhov, Matteo Malucelli and Norbert Siedler. The sister car with #488 in the Am class was driven by Pierre Ehret, Rino Mastronardi, Patrick Van Glabeke and Gabriele Lancieri.

After some heavy rain at the beginning of the week, everyone was able to enjoy some sunshine from Thursday onwards. Already in pre-qualifying, the #333 was able to set a good lap time and took second place overall. In the evening, it was all or nothing: qualifying and night qualifying were on the agenda. In the end, it was enough for the #333 to finish seventh in the ProAm class and for the #488 to finish third in the Am class. Competition at the fourth round of the Blancpain Endurance Series is also fierce here. The first 36 cars qualified within one second of each other, and that’s with a grid of 63 cars.

On Saturday at 4.30 p.m. the grid started the 24-hour race. Norbert Siedler got off to a good start in the #333 and was able to work his way up to fifth place in class. Rino Mastronardi on the #488 was also able to overtake a few competitors at the start and immediately tried to chase down those in front of him in the Am class. After the first hour, the #333 could boast a respectable third place in the ProAm class. Mastronardi held on to third place in class and narrowed the gap to his direct rivals.

But after just over four hours, the shock news for the #333. Rinat Salikhov announced over the radio that he had no more propulsion. As he could no longer continue, this meant the end of the race for the green-yellow Ferrari. A very bitter setback, as they were on a very good track.

For the #488, the Italian bolide ran without any problems. The drivers took turns in the stints and the pit stops of the mechanics went without problems. But then just before it got completely dark, some raindrops started to fall on the track. But not enough for a change to rain tyres. Nevertheless, the team remained alert. Because only a short time later it really started to rain. Driver and team reacted immediately and came into the pits for a stop from slicks to rain tyres. After some time, the weather conditions changed again and the track slowly dried up.

In the morning, Patrick Van Glabeke took to the track in second place in the Am class. Shortly before the end of his stint, he radioed in a puncture on the right rear tyre. Fortunately, he was almost at the end of the track, so he was able to head for the pits immediately. The tyre was quickly changed and the car was sent back on track. At the following stop, however, the #488 had to stand a little longer in front of the pits so that the mechanics could check everything again at the right rear. Thus, the #488 ended up in 3rd place in the Am class a few hours before the end.

Rino Mastronardi took over the last two stints. Now the chase for second place began. The hour of the Italian racer had struck: through top lap times and great overtaking manoeuvres he was able to regain second place in the Am class one hour before the end. Mastronardi then retained the position until the end of the 24-hour race and was cheered by the team when he crossed the finish line in 25th place overall.

Michele Rinaldi: “A great result for the #488! The drivers all put in a consistent performance and Rino did a great job. It’s a shame that we lost the #333 so early, we could have done better. Many thanks to the whole team – the mechanics always delivered flawless pit stops and that for 24 hours. Also many thanks to the drivers, without whom this event wouldn’t have happened.”


The weekend also saw the running of the Blancpain GT Sports Club, with Rinaldi Racing fielding a Ferrari 458 GT3. Christian Hook put in a good performance straight away in qualifying, qualifying in 10th place, and ended up moving up one place in the qualifying race. On Saturday morning, Hook started the race from ninth place and was able to move up to fourth place in the very first laps. After an accident, the safety car came onto the track. Immediately after the restart, Hook was able to overtake a competitor and thus secured third place. A great manoeuvre. In the last ten minutes, however, he was unfortunately overtaken by two much faster cars. He crossed the start and finish line in fifth place – a great result for his second event.