Grasser Racing Team’s Lamborghini wins Blancpain 3 Hours of Silverstone

Track action (Photo by Melissa Warren)Grasser Racing Team’s #63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 extended its 2017 Blancpain GT Series winning streak with a hard-fought victory in the 3 Hours of Silverstone, round four of this year’s campaign.


Mirko Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli, and Christian Engelhart had to dig deep in order to secure their second Endurance Cup triumph of the season.

Christian Engelhart (#63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini, 1st) said: “Those last few laps were really difficult. I was surprised that the Mercedes could close the gap so quickly, and I realised it would be a tight finish. The backmarkers did not make it easier for me, but it was exciting. I really enjoyed that and of course we are happy with this win. I think it’s the result of some hard work during the winter. At the last test before the start of the season, we understood the new Pirelli tyre completely, and I think we are getting everything out of the package at the moment.”

The #63 car pipped the #84 Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport car of Franck Perera, Jimmy Eriksson and Maxi Buhk by a mere 0.344s.

Maxi Buhk (#84 Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport, 2nd) said: “For me it was more important to not do any stupid mistakes. At this stage of the championship it is useless to take any stupid risks. But I loved the fact that I was able to attack, to have some clean and good racing. I enjoyed that very much.”

AKKA ASP’s #90 Mercedes-AMG GT3 rounded up the overall podium with Edoardo Mortara, Michael Meadows and Raffaele Marciello.

Michael Meadows (#90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG, 3rd) said: “We were quite good in the first sector, so I tried to maximize that. Generally, it was good, until we hit the slow speed corners. Traffic was a nightmare today, everyone was afraid to touch another car, so you had to wait to overtake the car.”

The #77 Barwell Motorsport-entered Lamborghini Huracan GT3 claimed the Pro-Am honours.

Patrick Kujala (#77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini, 1st Pro-Am) said: “I had a healthy lead at the beginning of the final stint, but not far from the end I was spun round by another car. I was lucky I could continue rather quickly, but then I saw the second placed Aston in my mirrors. But there was no way he would get past me. I held on to the lead, and it’s a great win for the team, at our home track. Everybody in the team did a great job, and hopefully we can repeat this in the next race.”

Rinaldi Racing’s #488 Ferrari 488 GT3 topped the AM field in a thrilling race.

Rino Mastronardi (#488 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari, 1st Am Cup) said: “Today I enjoyed the race very much. The car was quick, we had no problems at all. At Monza we also had a good lead, but then we had to retire. This time all went well, fortunately. Pierre did two great stints, we won the race and we are pretty happy with that.”

After an extra formation lap was needed, Bortolotti powered into the lead at Copse Corner from second place on the grid, as the Lamborghini factory driver overhauled the pole-sitting #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Felix Serralles at the green light.

Bortolotti quickly opened a comfortable gap of over six seconds up front, while Serralles fell out of contention when he was judged guilty of a false start and had to serve a one-minute Stop-and-Go penalty.

Behind, Jonny Kane’s #44 Strakka Racing McLaren 650S GT3 was then sent into the barriers at Turn 3, which triggered a lengthy Safety Car period. AKKA ASP put the neutralisation to great use with an early pit stop that promoted the #90 Mercedes-AMG GT3 into the top spot ahead of the #63 Huracan.

Track action (Photo by Melissa Warren) Track action (Photo by Melissa Warren) Track action (Photo by Melissa Warren) Track action (Photo by Melissa Warren) Track action (Photo by Melissa Warren)

 

 

 

Taking over racing duties from Bortolotti, Caldarelli immediately started hounding new leader Michael Meadows but despite tremendous pressure from the Grasser driver, the British ace held his ground on home turf.

Third-placed Jimmy Eriksson took advantage of the battling duo up the road to reel them in with Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport’s #84 machine. The Swedish driver was soon all the over the back of Caldarelli and when the Italian lost momentum trying to overtake Meadows, Eriksson pounced on the inside of the Lamborghini to grab P2.

The trio continued to run nose-to-tail all the way through to the final round of pit stops, with Bentley Team M-Sport’s Andy Soucek in the #8 Bentley Continental GT3 even making it a four-way battle as they all peeled into the pit lane with just over 60 minutes of action left on the clock.

Excellent service work from the GRT crew enabled Christian Engelhart to leapfrog the #90 and #84 Mercedes and emerge back in the lead. The German driver still had to resist Raffaele Marciello’s charge, with Maxi Buhk and Davide Rigon’s #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 also breathing down the race leader’s neck.

And resisted Engelhart did, although he had to manage some tricky situations through traffic. One of these close encounters with a backmarker almost cost the #63 Lamborghini the lead but it was Marciello who ultimately lost out, as the Italian ace slipped behind Buhk.

That was not the end of the story though, with the reigning Blancpain GT Series Overall champion inching ever closer in the final minutes. With two minutes left in the race, Buhk was glued to Engelhart’s gearbox with traffic up the road and a long 5.891 kilometres to take on for a final time… or so it seems! Indeed, the #63 crew thought they had the win in the bag, but Engelhart crossed the line with three seconds to go.

That meant an extra lap holding off the charging Buhk. Engelhart kept his cool under intense pressure to clinch Grasser’s third win in as many Blancpain GT Series weekends, following their successes at Monza and Brands Hatch.

The Pro-Am category initially shaped up to be a titanic scrap between the pole-sitting #87 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG and Rinaldi Racing’s #333 Ferrari 488 GT3, with Jules Gounon and Daniel Keilwitz jostling inside the overall top 10 early on. The German driver grabbed the class lead, only for the #333 car’s race to spin out of control when the Ferrari was handed a drive-through for speeding in the pit lane. Failure to serve the penalty resulted in a black flag for the Pro-Am points leaders, while the #77 Barwell Motorsport-entered Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Adrian Amstutz, Martin Kodric, and Patrick Kujala picked its way up the field to claim the bragging rights in the category.

It was no walk in the park though, especially given the speed shown once again by Ahmad Al-Harthy and Jonny Adam in the #97 Aston Martin V12 GT3. The Oman Racing Team with TF Sport pairing motored under the chequered flag just over a second behind the winning Lamborghini. After Gounon’s strong opening stint, teammates Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Nico Bastian ensured a solid third-place result for the #87 AKKA ASP entry.

The AM category crowned a two-man crew in Pierre Ehret and Rino Mastronardi on the #488 Rinaldi Racing-entered Ferrari 488 GT3. Second in class was another Ferrari 488 GT3, the #888 Kessel Racing car of David Perel, who had claimed a dominant class pole position on Sunday morning, Marco Zanuttini and Jacques Duyver. Completing the AM podium positions were Matias Henkola, David Schiwietz, and Henry Walkenhorst on the #36 Walkenhorst Motorsport-entered BMW M6 GT3.

Race results
1 63 Caldarelli/Engelhart/Bortolotti GRT Grasser Racing Team 83 3:02:00.635 162.6 3 2:00.906 175.7
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 GRT Grasser Racing Team

2 84 Eriksson/Buhk/Perera Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport 83 3:02:00.979 0.344 162.6 79 2:01.682 174.5
Mercedes-AMG GT3 HTP Motorsport

3 90 Meadows/Mortara/Marciello AKKA ASP 83 3:02:03.707 3.072 162.5 76 2:01.937 174.2
Mercedes-AMG GT3 AKKA ASP

4 72 Shaytar/Molina/Rigon SMP Racing 83 3:02:06.506 5.871 162.5 76 2:01.893 174.2
Ferrari 488 GT3 SMP Racing

5 8 Abril/Soucek/Soulet Bentley Team M-Sport 83 3:02:28.965 28.330 162.2 29 2:02.420 173.5
Bentley Continental GT3 Bentley Team M-Sport

6 50 Lathouras/Rugolo/Pier Guidi AF Corse 83 3:02:36.348 35.713 162.0 4 2:01.393 174.9
Ferrari 488 GT3 Spirit Of Race

7 99 Sims/Martin/Eng Rowe Racing 83 3:02:37.533 36.898 162.1 29 2:02.244 173.7
BMW M6 GT3 Rowe Racing

8 42 Parente/Webb/Williamson Strakka Motorsport 83 3:02:45.378 44.743 162.0 57 2:01.882 174.2
McLaren 650 S GT3 Strakka Racing

9 7 Smith/Jarvis/Kane Bentley Team M-Sport 83 3:03:07.839 1:07.204 161.6 55 2:01.991 174.1
Bentley Continental GT3 Bentley Team M-Sport

10 14 Frey/Ortelli/Costa Emil Frey Jaguar Racing 83 3:03:08.255 1:07.620 161.6 54 2:01.679 174.5
Emil Frey Jaguar G3 Emil Frey Racing

11 88 Vautier/Serralles/Juncadella AKKA ASP 83 3:03:15.703 1:15.068 161.4 81 2:01.858 174.3
Mercedes-AMG GT3 AKKA ASP

12 114 Hirschi/Seefried/Klien Emil Frey Jaguar Racing 83 3:03:18.844 1:18.209 161.4 55 2:02.190 173.8
Emil Frey Jaguar G3 Emil Frey Racing

13 17 Leonard/Green/Dennis Team WRT 83 3:03:21.758 1:21.123 161.4 52 2:03.400 172.1
Audi R8 LMS Team WRT

14 27 Pohler/Yacaman/Crestani Orange 1 Team Lazarus 83 3:03:22.375 1:21.740 161.4 53 2:01.870 174.3
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Lazarus

15 12 Gattuso/Beretta/Piccini Ombra Racing 83 3:03:22.463 1:21.828 161.4 78 2:03.091 172.5
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Ombra Racing

16 23 Ordonez/Chiyo/Buncombe Motul Team RJN Nissan 83 3:03:27.896 1:27.261 161.3 56 2:02.313 173.6
Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 RJN Motorsport

17 19 Perez Companc/Siedler/Giammaria GRT Grasser Racing Team 83 3:03:31.174 1:30.539 161.3 55 2:02.511 173.4
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 GRT Grasser Racing Team

18 35 Menzel/Krognes/Jensen Walkenhorst Motorsport 83 3:03:36.231 1:35.596 161.2 59 2:02.876 172.8
BMW M6 GT3 Walkenhorst Motorsport

19 66 Baguette/Venturini/Mapelli Attempto Racing 83 3:03:41.674 1:41.039 161.1 54 2:02.666 173.1
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Attempto Racing

20 77 Kodric/Amstutz/Kujala Barwell Motorsport 83 3:03:42.499 1:41.864 161.0 55 2:02.261 173.7
PAM Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Barwell Motorsport

21 97 Al Harthy/Adam Oman Racing Team with TF Sport 83 3:03:43.577 1:42.942 161.0 54 2:02.272 173.7
PAM Aston Martin V12 GT3 Oman Racing Team with TF Sport

22 87 Bastian/Beaubelique/Gounon AKKA ASP 83 3:03:46.382 1:45.747 161.0 7 2:02.441 173.5
PAM Mercedes-AMG GT3 AKKA ASP

23 55 Cioci/Fisichella/Calado Kaspersky Motorsport 83 3:03:46.778 1:46.143 161.0 80 2:02.431 173.5
Ferrari 488 GT3 Spirit Of Race

24 22 Simmons/Moore/Parry Motul Team RJN Motorsport 83 3:03:51.236 1:50.601 160.9 53 2:01.510 174.8
Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 RJN Motorsport

25 86 Abbott/Skeen/Faulkner HTP Motorsport 82 3:02:14.903 1LAPS 160.5 69 2:02.657 173.1
PAM Mercedes-AMG GT3 HTP Motorsport
26 78 Ramos/Matchitski/Abra Barwell Motorsport 82 3:02:21.243 1LAPS 160.4 53 2:03.203 172.4
PAM Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Barwell Motorsport

27 60 Costantini/Amici/Lind Raton Racing 82 3:02:34.873 1LAPS 160.2 54 2:03.011 172.6
PAM Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Raton Racing

28 911 Häring/Renauer/Renauer Herberth Motorsport 82 3:02:51.945 1LAPS 159.9 53 2:03.016 172.6
PAM Porsche 991 GT3 R Herberth Motorsport

29 59 Stoneman/Jaafar/Watson Strakka Racing 82 3:02:54.026 1LAPS 159.8 54 2:02.647 173.2
McLaren 650 S GT3 Strakka Racing

30 67 Mateu/Maggi/van Splunteren Attempto Racing 82 3:02:59.968 1LAPS 159.8 58 2:02.651 173.2
PAM Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Attempto Racing

31 3 Caygill/Mayr-Melnhof/Venter Team WRT 82 3:03:27.562 1LAPS 159.4 81 2:03.488 172.0
Audi R8 LMS Team WRT

32 89 Badey/Perfetti/Fontana AKKA ASP 82 3:03:31.859 1LAPS 159.3 53 2:02.611 173.2
PAM Mercedes-AMG GT3 AKKA ASP

33 53 Hommerson/Machiels/Butcher Spirit Of Race 82 3:03:50.021 1LAPS 159.0 73 2:02.699 173.1
PAM Ferrari 488 GT3 Spirit Of Race

34 58 Barnicoat/Bell/Ledogar Strakka Racing 81 2:59:58.643 2 LAP 160.5 54 2:02.773 173.0
McLaren 650 S GT3 Strakka Racing

35 488 Ehret/Mastronardi Rinaldi Racing 81 3:02:01.869 2 LAP 158.7 29 2:04.132 171.1
AM Ferrari 488 GT3 Rinaldi Racing

36 26 Kelders/Rostan/Haase Sainteloc Racing 81 3:02:05.397 2 LAP 158.6 56 2:02.606 173.2
PAM Audi R8 LMS Sainteloc Junior Team

37 85 Sandström/Schiller/Baumann HTP Motorsport 81 3:02:24.006 2 LAP 158.3 59 2:02.565 173.3
Mercedes-AMG GT3 HTP Motorsport

38 51 Motoaki/Bontempelli/Beretta AF Corse 81 3:02:54.233 2 LAP 158.0 74 2:03.401 172.1
PAM Ferrari 488 GT3 AF Corse

39 888 Zanuttini/Duyver/Perel Kessel Racing 80 3:02:50.559 3 LAP 156.0 15 2:03.508 172.0
AM Ferrari 488 GT3 Kessel Racing

40 15 Chaponik/Sandberg/Heckert Black Falcon 80 3:03:15.292 3 LAP 155.7 76 2:04.164 171.0
PAM Mercedes-AMG GT3 Black Falcon

41 98 Spengler/Palttala/Krohn Rowe Racing 80 3:03:42.259 3 LAP 155.2 14 2:03.032 172.6
BMW M6 GT3 Rowe Racing

42 36 Schiwietz/Walkenhorst/Henkola Walkenhorst Motorsport 80 3:04:01.074 3 LAP 155.1 6 2:05.996 168.6
AM BMW M6 GT3 Walkenhorst Motorsport

43 777 Delhez/Vannelet/Stursberg Team HB Racing 79 3:02:12.361 4 LAP 154.7 30 2:05.433 169.3
AM Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Team HB Racing

44 11 Broniszewski/Rizzoli/Cressoni Kessel Racing 79 3:03:23.035 4 LAP 153.6 77 2:02.660 173.1
PAM Ferrari 488 GT3 Kessel Racing

45 31 Lendoudis/Balbiani/Aguas Team Zakspeed 71 3:03:37.329 12 LAP 137.6 57 2:02.472 173.4
PAM Mercedes-AMG GT3 Team Zakspeed

Not classified
4 Stolz/Christodoulou/Buurman Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon 46 1:50:44.697 37 LAP 148.5 5 2:02.640 173.2
Mercedes-AMG GT3 Black Falcon

188 West/Harris/Goodwin Garage 59 44 1:57:54.954 39 LAP 133.3 7 2:06.430 168.0
AM McLaren 650 S GT3 Garage 59

5 Fässler/Vanthoor/Stevens Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 36 1:42:21.477 47 LAP 125.3 5 2:02.683 173.1
Audi R8 LMS Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

2 Treluyer/Berthon/Richelmi Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 36 2:42:20.053 47 LAP 78.0 7 2:04.949 170.0
Audi R8 LMS Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

32 Vinke/Caccia/Viebahn Team Zakspeed 30 1:16:06.450 53 LAP 141.7 17 2:06.160 168.3
AM Mercedes-AMG GT3 Team Zakspeed

48 Heyer/Assenheimer/Dontje MANN-FILTER Team HTP Motorsport 23 54:43.929 60 LAP 152.1 8 2:04.600 170.4
Mercedes-AMG GT3 MANN-FILTER Team HTP Motorsport

75 Stippler/Salaquarda/Schmid ISR 22 49:24.915 61 LAP 162.0 6 2:03.626 171.8
Audi R8 LMS ISR

44 Fumanelli/Tordoff/Kane Strakka Racing 21 47:17.030 62 LAP 162.0 16 2:03.305 172.2
McLaren 650 S GT3 Strakka Racing

16 Morley/Toril/Metzger Black Falcon 19 44:56.608 64 LAP 154.1 5 2:03.913 171.4
PAM Mercedes-AMG GT3 Black Falcon

Disqualified
333 Salikhov/Mattschull/Keilwitz Rinaldi Racing
PAM Ferrari 488 GT3 Rinaldi Racing   By Melissa Warren

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