Second Position in Am class at 24h Spa
Last week, Rinaldi Racing went to the highlight of the year: the 24 hours Spa-Francorchamps. At the classic in the Ardennes, the team from Mendig started with two Ferrari 488 GT3. The work behind the steering wheel with the starting number 333 in the ProAm class was shared by Alexander Mattschull, Rinat Salikhov, Matteo Malucelli, and Norbert Siedler. The sister car with the #488 in the Am class was driven by Pierre Ehret, Rino Mastronardi, Patrick Van Glabeke, and Gabriele Lancieri.
After a lot of rain at the beginning of the week, the teams were happy to see some sun. Already in the Pre Qualifying, the #333 could show his potential in the lap times and reached the second position overall. In the evening do or die now: the qualifying and night qualifying started. At the end, #333 reached a seventh position in the ProAm class and the #488 the third position in Am class. Again, the competition in the fourth round of the Blancpain Endurance Series is really hard. The first 36 cars qualified in one second and this in a starting field of 63 cars.
On Saturday at 16.30 o’clock, the 24 hours race began. Norbert Siedler had a good start in the #333 and moved forward to the fifth position in the ProAm class. Also, on the #488 Mastronardi overtook some other cars and began the pursuit of the second in the Am class. After the first hour, #333 reached the respectable third place in the ProAm class. Mastronardi kept his third position and reduced the gap to his direct opponent.
But after four hours, the horrible message for the #333. Rinat Salikhov told over the radio that he had no forward movement. Due to the fact that he could not come back to the pits, this was the end of the race for the green yellow Ferrari. A really bad reverse, because the car was on a good way.
For the #488, the Italian racing car went without any problems. The drivers alternated with their stints and the pit stops of the mechanics also went without any problems. But then, just before the night came, some rain drops fell on the track. But not enough to change tires. However, the team stayed vigilant. Because after a while, it was raining. Driver and team reacted immediately and came into the pits for a tire change from slick to wet. During the next stints, the weather conditions changed and the track dried.
In the morning, Patrick Van Glabeke went on track on position two in the Am class. Just at the end of his stint, he reported via radio a tire damage on the right rear. Thankfully, he was at the end of his lap, so that he could directly go into the pits. The tire was changed and the car sent back on track. On the next pit stop, the #488 had to stay a little bit longer in front of the box, so that the mechanics could recheck the rear. For this reason, the #488 was on position three in class a few hours before the end of the race.
Rino Mastronardi took over the last two stints. Now the catch-up race for the second place in Am class began. The highlight hours of the Italian racing driver started: with great lap times and impressive overtaking maneuvers, he was able to reach the second position in the Am class. Mastronardi kept this position until the end of the 24 hours race and crossed the finish line as 25th overall.
Michele Rinaldi: „A great result for the #488! All drivers showed a constant performance and Rino did an awesome job in the last hour. It is a shame that we lost the #333 so early in the race; I am sure we could have reached more. Thank you to the whole team – the mechanics did a great job and faultless pit stops during the 24 hours. Also a big thank you to all drivers, without them we could not have raced in this event.“
On the weekend, the Blancpain GT Sports Club took also place in Spa. Rinaldi Racing took part with one Ferrari 458 GT3. Christian Hook showed a good performance during the qualifying and reached the tenth position. On Friday afternoon, at the qualifying race Hook could reach the ninth position. On Saturday morning, Hook had a great start and after a few laps, he was on the fourth position. Then the Safety Car came out. Just after the restart, Hook could immediately overtake another car and reached the third position. In the last ten minutes of the race, he was overtaken by two other cars, which were too fast. Hook crossed the finish line on the fifth position – a great result for his second GT Sports Club event.