Perfect debut for Rinaldi Racing in Monza
Last weekend, the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Series took place in Monza, Italy for Rinaldi Racing.
In glorious sunshine and summer temperatures, the team from Mendig sent two Ferrari 488 GT3s to the start. In the ProAm class, Alexander Mattschull, Rinat Salikhov and Dominik Schwager shared the wheel work on the #333, while the sister car competed in the Am class with Pierre Ehret, Rory Penttinen and Rick Yoon on the #488.
On Sunday, the 3-hour race with the 53 GT3 cars got underway at 15.00. Rinat Salikhov took over the position of the starting driver on the #333 and started the race from third place in the ProAm class. Pierre Ehret started on the #488, from fourth place in the Am class.
After only two laps Rinat Salikhov was able to snatch the lead in the ProAm class. Unfortunately, he collided with two other cars in the field and dropped back to 12th place in the class. A bitter setback. But now the Russian Rinat Salikhov had a crazy race to catch up. Lap after lap he convinced with fabulous lap times and overtook one after the other. After only half an hour, he was already in third place. After just under an hour, the #333 headed for the pits as class leader for the mandatory pit stop. The team experienced a brief moment of shock when another car drove off from its pit lane and almost collided with the #333. The team lost a few seconds as a result. Dominik Schwager took over the steering wheel of the Ferrari 488 GT3 and still went back on track as the leader. Pierre Ehret was able to stay out of everything at the start in the #488 and drove a flawless stint. Until his first compulsory pit stop, Pierre Ehret was able to secure the third position in the Am class and then handed over to Rory Penttinen.
On the #333, Dominik Schwager was able to extend his lead over the runner-up in the ProAm class more and more. By the next pit stop, the lead was already over 30 seconds. On #488, Finn Rory Penttinen held his ground very well and attacked right at the beginning. After a few laps, he was able to secure second place in the Am class.
One hour before the end of the race, the last stops were made. Alexander Mattschull took over the final stint on the #333 and returned to the track as class leader with a lead of 36 seconds. The final pit stop on the #488 also went off without a hitch and Korean Rick Yoon got behind the wheel of the Italian racer.
In the end, the screams of joy were great. The #333 secured first place in the ProAm class, a fabulous debut for Rinaldi Racing. The #488 was also delighted with third place in the Am class.
Michele Rinaldi: “A really excellent result for Rinaldi Racing at Monza. To finally take a win in the Blancpain Endurance Series is perfect. Rinat Salikhov did a great stint; to go right back to the front after the setback was really great to see. Despite the really bad damage to the Ferrari 488 GT3, the car kept running. This quality shows what is possible with a 488. Congratulations to the other drivers as well. For the #488, third place is a very good result. Rory Penttinen and Rick Yoon have not driven this track before. With a bit more driving experience on the different tracks, we can still achieve a lot in the Am class.”
The weekend in Monza also saw the first round of the Blancpain GT Sports Club. Christian Hook started the race in the #33 Ferrari 488 GT3 and his performance was already impressive in qualifying, securing an excellent second place, three-thousandths off the pole.
Unfortunately, the hard work was not rewarded in the first race on Saturday. Right after the start in the first corner, the #33 was sandwiched and damaged so badly that the race ended in the gravel.
Therefore, Christian Hook had to start the second race on Sunday from the penultimate place. Right at the start, he was able to make up a few positions and drove further and further to the front in the next laps. In the end, he drove from his starting position of 15th to a great fifth place. A great performance.