Last weekend, in addition to the VLN, the next round of the Blancpain GT Series was held at Paul Ricard.

Rinaldi Racing travelled to Paul Ricard in the south of France for the Blancpain Endurance Series with two Ferrari 488 GT3s. The green and yellow Ferrari with the starting number 333 was driven by Alexander Mattschull, Rinat Salikhov and Matteo Malucelli in the ProAm class. Pierre Ehret, Rory Penttinen and Rino Mastronardi shared the work behind the steering wheel in the Am class on the green and black Ferrari with start number 488. This time Rinaldi Racing also took part with a Ferrari 458 GT3 in the Blancpain GT Sports Club with Christian Hook.

On Friday, the drivers were able to get used to the track conditions during the three sessions. Especially the very high temperatures, over 30 degrees, were a challenge for drivers and the team.

On Saturday morning, everyone went into qualifying. With start number 333, Malucelli was the last driver to go into the third qualifying session. In the end, they achieved third place in the ProAm classification and a good 16th place overall. They were only 0.015 seconds off pole in the class. In the sister car, number 488, Mastronardi secured pole in the Am class. Very good starting positions for the race for both cars.

On Saturday at 18.00 hrs the 58 participants started into the 6 hours race. Matteo Malucelli took the start on the 333 and was able to take the lead in the ProAm class right from the first laps. Mastronardi on the 488 was also able to defend his first place in the class. Early in the race, there was a long Full Course Yellow Phase followed by a Safety Car. In order to hit the right time window, they brought both cars in late for a pit stop. In the next stint, Mattschull and Ehret took over their Italian cars. In the course of the race, the number 488 was involved in a small accident, where the splitter on one side came loose. At the next stop, they tried to repair this. From then on, the drivers had to deal with some vibrations in the car; first was Penttinen, who took over the car after the stop. The 333 had to work its way back to the front as the race progressed. But after good stints by Salikhov and Mattschull and very good stops by the mechanics, they finished fourth in class again.

The last stint in the 333 was driven by Malucelli. He was able to shine once again with fast sector times and in the end, it was enough for a fifth place in the ProAm class and a 19th place overall. For the 488, Rory Penttinen scored third place in the Am class and thus a place on the podium.

Michele Rinaldi: “It was a difficult race for us. The loose splitter on the 488 kept costing us time in the pits to repair and so we lost some places in the class. But the drivers did a good job in the conditions. But the 333 was also good in the race. We were hoping for a bit more, but the ProAm class is very competitive. The mechanics did a top job at the stops again and we were able to make up positions in the race because of that.”


Both races in the Blancpain GT Sports Club were then contested on Sunday with 24 starters. In the qualifying race, Christian Hook started from the ninth row of the grid. Right at the start, he was able to overtake some competitors. After the 25-minute race, he achieved a good 14th place. Thus, he also started the main race from this position. The second race lasted 40 minutes. Hook crossed the start and finish line in tenth place – a solid top 10 finish.