Heat battle in Paul Ricard
Last weekend, the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series took place at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
The 1,000 km race in France is one of the highlights of the calendar; the cars start at 6 p.m. in daylight and finish the race as a night race. Unfortunately, the race did not go as planned for Rinaldi Racing.
Right from the start of the race, there was sunshine and 30 degrees throughout the day. A strain for man and machine. On Friday, the drivers had three practice sessions to get used to the temperatures and the track. In the green Ferrari 488 with the starting number 333, Pierre Ehret and Rinat Salikhov shared the steering wheel in the AM class. In the sister car in the Ferrari 458 with the starting number 66 Steve Parrow, Alexander Mattschull and Dominik Schwager started in the Pro-Am class.
On Saturday morning during qualifying, the #333 Ferrari finished fifth in the Am class, giving them a solid starting position for the race. At the end of the third qualifying session, Dominik Schwager was able to bring the Ferrari 458 to the front with the starting number 66, but with a starting field of 57 cars, it is difficult to find a free lap. Therefore, it was enough for the Black Pearl squad for 13th place in the Pro-Am classification.
The six-hour race in Paul Ricard started punctually at 6 pm in very warm conditions. Right at the start of the formation lap, the black Ferrari #66 stopped due to a starter problem but was still able to start under its own power. Unfortunately, it had to drop to the back of the field. At the start already in turn two, the next misfortune happened: a competitor collided with the #333 with Rinat Salikhov at the wheel, who in turn could only involuntarily watch how he hit the sister car with Dominik Schwager during this collision. The #66 suffered a puncture in this action and had to drag itself painstakingly back to the pits. Unfortunately, the race was over for the #333. Now Steve Parrow, Alexander Mattschull and Dominik Schwager started to catch up. Lap after lap, they were able to work their way up to the tenth position in the Pro-Am class with stable lap times and good pit stops. However, 45 minutes before the end of the race the team had to park the Ferrari due to a technical defect.
“For the whole Rinaldi Racing team, this is of course very bitter. We came to the race leading the Am classification in the Blancpain Endurance Series and were hoping to score points here as well. Our Ferrari 458 also had a retirement at the end. Nevertheless, the drivers and the whole team did a great job,” said team boss Michele Rinaldi.
This week, Rinaldi Racing’s schedule continues with the Blancpain Sprint Series and the Truck Grand Prix at the Nürburgring from 01-03 July. The race is a home game for the team, which has its workshop around 30 km from the circuit. “The upcoming weekend is of great importance for us,” says Michele Rinaldi. “We will do everything we can to get a good result in front of our home crowd. Many partners and friends will be there to keep their fingers crossed for us.”