Alvaro Parente, Grégoire Demoustier and Alexandre Premat dominated proceedings at Monza in their #98 ART Grand Prix McLaren MP4-12C; leading from the start, building a lead that they maintained around 15 seconds, and which never looked threatened during the three hours of the race.
PRO Cup winner Alvaro Parente told the assembled media
The start was really good, we had new tyres and clean air, which was the plan and we had a perfect weekend.
The super-talented Stéphane Ortelli in the #26 Sainteloc Audi R8 LMS looked the most likely to peg the McLaren back, getting the lead down to under 10 seconds in the second hour after the first wave of pitstops, but it was clearly McLaren’s day.
Gregory Guilvert took the final stint and maintained second position for Sainteloc Audi, despite the gap to third diminishing to a second in the final laps as the second ART Grand Prix cars closed-in. Andy Soucek behind the wheel of the third placed #99 ART Grand Prix McLaren had to hold-off stiff and sustained pressure from Laurens Vanthoor in fourth in the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT who had chased him down.
Over the closing 10 laps of the race the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th placed cars were covered by less than two seconds.
Pro-Am winners ROAL Motorsport’s BMW Z4 had the best of the Ferraris on their home turf as both the Kessel Racing and GT Corse by Rinaldi entries, who had dominated the opening hour, made contact with other cars and dropped out of the race. The Italian anthem was heard, however, as #43 BMW is of an Italian team and hearing it was just reward for a faultless race; a Class win and 6th overall.
Absolutely special race, a flawless race, we could maintain our pace throughout. No problems with traffic everybody was very fair.
Who would have thought the headline ‘No Podium for NISMO’ was even imaginable given their starting position of 32nd on the grid? Though it was looking likely when the race was entering its final stages after ‘Stint of The Day’ winner Alex Buncombe hauled the #80 Nissan GT-R up to 11th place overall before handing it over to Monza debutante Nick McMillen. The American rookie driver was able to further improve, taking the car into the Top Ten, ahead of the final stint by Florian Strauss who courteously let the lead car through but didn’t spot the hard charging Castellacci’s #90 Scuderia Villorba Corse following close behind the leader. Castellacci went on to chase down Andrea Sonvico in the #50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 and take second step on the podium behind the Italian BMW and 9th overall.
In the Gentlemen Trophy race, honours were taken by the GT Corse by Rinaldi Ferrari of Pierre Ehret, Frank Schmikler and Alexander Mattschull who lead from start to finish ahead of three following Ferraris; Sport Garage’s Cabannes/Delhez/Brandela driver combination took second, ahead of the two AF Corse entered cars.
The only non-Ferrari GTR entries were two Audi R8s in the hands of Sainteloc Junior and Team Parker Racing. Leading off for Parker was Ian Loggie who had an off in the #22 car at turn four on lap 11 before being unceremoniously thumped out of the way by Hubert Haupt, as he lumbered past in the #19 Black Falcon Mercedes SLS, at Ascari later. Still they held their end up and looked set to finish their debut race until Chris Jones had the car go away from him entering the Parabolica with only 10 minutes of racing to go. An unfortunate conclusion to a memorable maiden race.
Round 2 of the Blancpain Endurance Series sees the cars from 11 different manufacturers cross the channel and head to Silverstone for the weekend of 23rd – 25th May.