Last weekend, the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Series took place in Monza, Italy. With bright sunshine and estival temperatures, the team participated in with two Ferrari 488 GT3. In the ProAm class Alexander Mattschull, Rinat Salikhov, and Dominik Schwager shared the work behind the steering wheel of the starting number 333. The sister car #488 started in the Am class with Pierre Ehret, Rory Penttinen, and Rick Yoon.
On Sunday, the 3 hours race began at 15.00 o’clock with 53 GT3 cars. Rinat Salikhov ran the start in the #333 and started from the third position in the ProAm class; on the #488 Pierre Ehret from the fourth position in Am class. Already after two laps, Rinat Salikhov took over the lead in the ProAm class. Unfortunately, he had an incident with two other cars and dropped back to position 12 in the class. A body blow for the team. Now, the awesome catch-up race began. Lap for lap, he convinced with great lap times and showed amazing overtaking maneuvers. Half an hour later, he was back on the third position. After one hour, Rinat Salikhov came into the pits as leader of the ProAm class. There, the team had a little moment of shock. Another car in the pits left his position to early and almost collided with the #333. Due to this unsafe release, the team lost a few seconds. Dominik Schwager took over the steering wheel of the Ferrari 488 GT3 and however, went back on track as leader in the class. Pierre Ehret on the #488 had a good start and stayed out of trouble. Until his mandatory pit stop, Pierre Ehret reached the third position in the Am class and handed over the car to Rory Penttinen.
On the #333, Dominik Schwager extended the gap more and more on the runner-up in the ProAm class. Until his pit stop, the gap was over 30 seconds. On the #488, the Finn Rory Penttinen compete with the rest of the grid very well and went full attack from the beginning. After a few laps, he moved up to the second position in his class.
One hour until the end of the race, it was time for the last mandatory pit stops. Alexander Mattschull drove the last stint in the #333 and went back on track as leader with a gap of 36 seconds. Also, the pit stop of the #488 went without mistakes and the Korean Rick Yoon was now behind the steering wheel of the Italian racing car.
At the end, the joy was overwhelming. The #333 reached the first position in the ProAm class, a perfect beginning of the season for Rinaldi Racing. The #488 reached a great third position in the Am class.
Michele Rinaldi: „A really great result for Rinaldi Racing in Monza. Finally a win in the Blancpain Endurance Series. Rinat Salikhov did an awesome job during his stint; to drive from the back after this blow to the front, that was thrilling. Despite all these injuries on the Ferrari 488 GT3, the car went on and on. Through this quality, you can see what is possible with a 488. Also congratulations to the other drivers. For the #488, the third place is a very good result. Rory Penttinen and Rick Yoon have never driven in Monza before. With a little more experience on the different tracks, they will reach more in the Am class in the next races.“
Also, the Blancpain GT Sports Club took place in Monza. Christian Hook started on the Ferrari 488 GT3 with the starting number 33. Already during the qualifying, he showed a great performance and reached the second position with a gap of just three thousandths to the pole.
Unfortunately, this hard work was not rewarded in the first race on Saturday. Just at the start of the race in the first turn, the #33 was grilled between two cars and damaged so heavily that the race ended in the gravel.
Therefore, Christian Hook had to start from the back of the grid of the second race on Sunday. Already at the start, he moved up some positions and continued overtaking during the race. At the end, he drove from his 15thstarting position to a great fifth position. An amazing performance.