Podium at the 24 hours race Spa
Last week the highlight race of the Blancpain GT Series calendar took place: the 24 hours Spa. At the classic in the Ardennes, Rinaldi Racing started with the green Ferrari 488 GT3 in the AM class. Pierre Ehret, Rinat Salikhov, Alexander Mattschull and Marco Seefried shared the work behind the steering wheel.
It was a long week for the Rinaldi Racing team. Already on Monday, the program started with the setup before on Tuesday the Bronze test took place where the drivers could adapt themselves to the track. On Wednesday the Blancpain GT Series was welcomed in the city center of Spa for the parade. The huge number of visitors enjoyed the several GT3 sports cars and grabbed some posters and autograph cards.
Finally, on Thursday the regular sessions on track continued. At the two free practices, the drivers had also to deal with wet track conditions. While the track was drying the team could work with the drivers on the setup of the Ferrari 488. This time, the qualifying was divided into two parts: a qualifying at daylight and one night qualifying where each driver had to complete to timed laps. The result was a fourth position in the AM class on the starting grid.
On Saturday afternoon the 69th running of the 24 hours race started in dry conditions. The team sent out Marco Seefried as starting driver for the race. But already on the first lap, the disaster occurred: another car hit the green Ferrari into the rear and carried him into the gravel. Until the Ferrari was pulled out the gravel and drove back to the pits with a tire puncture at the left rear, the team lost four laps. Now the catch-up race began from the last position in the field. The drivers completed their stints on schedule and each hour the team was ready for the pit stop. With strong lap times and without any technical failure Rinaldi Racing reached the third position in the AM class after 12 hours. The remaining 12 hours ran without any problems: the crew did a great job at the pit stops. After Marco Seefried had accomplished his driving time in the early morning, the three Amateur drivers shared the work behind the steering wheel of the Ferrari 488. One hour before the end of the race Rinaldi Racing had their last pit stop, where Alexander Mattschull handed over the Ferrari to Pierre Ehret for the final push. One and a half hour before the end of the race a torrential rain began and several cars went off track. Pierre Ehret could keep the car on track and crossed the finish line. After 506 laps and 25 pit stops the team reached an amazing third position in the AM class and 36th overall.
“What a race! Of course, it was bad that another car sent us in the gravel resulting in a four lap gap. Otherwise, we could have fight for the win in the AM class. Still, it is a wonderful result for the whole team. Our drivers did an amazing job, especially our three amateur drivers Pierre Ehret, Rinat Salikhov and Alexander Mattschull; to hold out for 24 hours and to stay at a solid level. Respect. That weekend Marco Seefried had a double job: he did a good job on track and also did a great coaching for our amateur drivers. Also a big thank you to the whole team, who worked faultlessly during the race“, resumed team boss Michele Rinaldi. “Also I want to thank our partners and sponsors for their support. Especially Ehret-Family Winery, Lion Antique Cars, KS-Tools and Syntix – without them we could not have started the race.“
The next race event for Rinaldi Racing will be the Blancpain Sprint Series in Budapest from 26th to 28th of August.