Podium in Am class
Last weekend, the next round of the Blancpain GT Series took place. Rinaldi Racing went with two Ferrari 488 GT3 to the Blancpain Endurance Series to Paul Ricard in the south of France. The green-yellow Ferrari with the starting number 333 was driven by Alexander Mattschull, Rinat Salikhov, and Matteo Malucelli in the ProAm class. On the green-black Ferrari with the starting number 488 Pierre Ehret, Rory Penttinen, and Rino Mastronardi shared the work behind the steering wheel in the Am class. This time, Rinaldi Racing also participated in the Blancpain GT Sports Club with a Ferrari 458 GT3 with Christian Hook.
On Friday, the drivers could adapt themselves to the track conditions during the three practice sessions. Especially the high temperatures, over 30 degrees, were a challenge for drivers and team.
On Saturday morning, the qualifying session began. On the starting number 333, the last driver was Malucelli. At the end, they reached the third position in the ProAm class and a 16th position overall. Just 0.015 seconds were missing for the pole position in class. On the sister car with the starting number 488, Mastronardi achieved the pole position in the Am class. For both cars very good start positions for the race.
On Saturday 18.00 o’clock, the 58 cars started the 6 hours race. Matteo Malucelli took over the start in the 333 and already in the first lap, he could take over the lead in the ProAm class. Also, Mastronardi on the 488 could defend his lead in class. Early in the race, a long full course yellow occurred which was succeeded by a safety car. To strike the right time slot, the team decided to pit late. In the next stint, Mattschull and Ehret took over their Italian racing cars. In the further course, the 488 was involved in a little accident, where the splitter was not longer fixed on one side of the car. At the next stop, the crew tried to fix it. From then on, the drivers had to struggle with some vibrations; first one Penttinen, who took over the car after the stop. The 333 had to move forward after the late pit stop. But after good stints from Salikhov and Mattschull and very good pit stops of the mechanics, again they reached the fourth position in class.
Malucelli drove the last stint in the 333. He convinced of fast sector times and at the end, he reached the fifth position in ProAm class and the 19th position overall. For the 488, Rory Penttinen achieved the third position in Am class and also a position on the podium.
Michele Rinaldi: „It was a difficult race for us. The loose splitter at the 488 cost time in the pits and so we lost some positions in class. But the drivers did a good job under these conditions. Also, the 333 had a good race. We hoped for a better result, but the ProAm class is highly competitive. Once again, the mechanics did an amazing job at the pit stops and due to the faultless stops we could gain some positions during the race.“
On Sunday, the two races of the Blancpain GT Sports Club took place with a grid of 24 cars. In the Qualifying race, Christian Hook started from the ninth row. Already at the start, he gained some positions. After the 25 minutes, a reached a good 14th position. From this position, he also started into the main race. This second race had a length of 40 minutes. Hook crossed the start and finish line as 10th – a good Top 10 position.