Dinamic Motorsport debuted in the Blancpain GT season-opener at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza with a home victory. The Porsche Carrera Cup Italia-turned Blancpain GT squad emerged victoriously after a late puncture for the then-leading Saintéloc Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3. FFF Racing made it an Italian and a Blancpain GT Endurance Cup debutants 1-2 by coming home in second. Third place in the rain-lashed race went to 2018 champions Black Falcon.
BLANCPAIN GT MONZA GALLERY | INTERVIEW KLAUS BACHLER | INTERVIEW YELMER BUURMAN
A rainy Sunday turned the track into a pool of water. The dreary conditions prompted race control to start the race behind the safety car to accustom the drivers to the conditions and create somewhat of a racing line under controlled conditions.
Chased by a wall of water, Bortolotti led the field to the green flag in his number 63 Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, followed by Nico Bastian’s Silver Cup-entered number 90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the number 2 WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Alex Riberas.
Halfway down the grid the number 54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 991.2 GT3R piloted by Andrea Rizzoli began its way to victory. Their day in the sun was yet to come.
Bortolotti was leading the first half an hour of the 3-hour race with confidence when the Italian unexpectedly appeared in the pits with a punctured tyre. The upside: It happened just as a Full Course Yellow slowed down the field to a mere 80 kilometres per hour. The fearsome number 63 machine rejoined in second place behind Bastian who took over the lead of race, but reclaimed the lead at the end of the hour in the confusion of a Full Course Yellow going back to green.
As the race went on, the track began to dry. While some teams decided to switch to slicks for the second hour, others stayed on wet-weather tyres. One of those on slicks was Rolf Ineichen. The Swiss expected the track to be dry enough when he took over from Bortolotti, but once out there, he dropped back, searching in vain for grip on the damp tarmac, not helped by a faulty ABS. The team finally decided to retire the car in the final stint when the ABS stopped working altogether.
One driver who was shining on slicks was Raffaele Marciello. Last year’s Blancpain GT champion got aboard the number 88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 after taking over from Vincent Abril and set his sights on number 76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 racer Jake Dennis who had appeared in the lead at the end of the pit window with an early pitstop. Coming out of Ascari, Marciello slipstreamed his way past the Vantage, taking his place at the head of the field.
Marciello’s lead, however, wasn’t to last: Going back to green after a lengthy Full Course Yellow, the blue and white AMG had lost too much heat in its tyres. As Marciello struggled for grip, Sven Müller outbraked the Italian going into the Variante della Roggia and sent the number 98 Rowe Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R into first place.
While at the front the revolving door of leaders continued, the Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 991.2 GT3R with Zaid Ashkanani piloting was moving closer and closer to the head of the field. The Kuwaiti got in earshot of the Rowe Porsche when he handed the car over to Klaus Bacher. Tasked with reeling in the leader going into the final hour, Bachler put his foot down. Although the Porsche works driver succeeded in overtaking the Rowe Porsche, another Full Course Yellow played right into the hands of Saintéloc Racing: The French team had yet to make its final pitstop and when the Full Course Yellow presented itself, Saintéloc didn’t hesitate to call Steven Palette into the pits and sent Audi ace Christopher Haase out. The ploy worked, the Audi R8 LMS GT3 remained in the lead.
13 minutes remained on the clock when disaster struck Saintéloc. Already forewarned by the many punctures encountered by others, the Audi suffered a puncture as well. Haase carefully steered his car back to the pits for a quick tyre change, but by then was too late.
Bachler had taken over the lead and with the Audi’s puncture in mind, the Austrian nursed his rain tyres for the final laps. Simply managing the gap to the Marco Mapelli-driven FFF Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 secured Dinamic Motorsport’s first Blancpain GT win in its first try.
Mapelli grabbed second place for Orange1 FFF Racing, the Chinese team making its European Blancpain GT Series debut under the leadership of driver and team-owner Andrea Caldarelli. Racing alongside the two Italians in the Lamborghini was Dennis Lind. The Dane took a detour through the gravel at Lesmo on the first lap, losing a handful of positions. He immediately began fighting his way back, duking it out with Riberas for third place before watching his co-drivers consolidate the team’s position at the front.
Crossing the line in third place was the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Maro Engel behind the wheel. The reigning champions went through a rollercoaster ride, starting from 14th but then dropping back to 27th after Luca Stolz got sent into a spin. Buurman took over the rain tyre-shod and damaged AMG on a drying track. Once the rain picked up again the Dutchman rocketed to the front. This progression was continued by Engel, who made the final move on the crowded number 98 Rowe Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Romain Dumas that got the team onto the podium.
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