Dinamic Motorsport claimed their maiden win in the Blancpain Endurance Cup at the opening round. The Italian Squad lined up twenty-third on the grid after the morning’s sodden qualifying sessions. The #54 Porsche 911 GT3 R in the hands of Klaus Bachler, Andrea Rizzoli and Zaid Ashkanani took advantage of consistent driving and clever strategy to take the win.
49 cars were originally entered for this weekends opening round but we lost three by the time of the race. #17 WRT was lost due to accident damage in qualifying.
The #20 GPX Porsche was lost too after losing control on standing water, too much damage rendered the car out of the race. High hopes were in the #31 Bentley camp too but after damage in qualifying the car was too damaged and retired after 7 laps of racing.
This left 46 cars officially running, the #54 Dinamic Motorsport started exactly in the middle of the field. With the weather slowing from the downpour in qualifying but still a lot of standing water.
The conditions were not looking friendly for the guys in the mid field but luckily the race was declared as a safety car start, news much welcomed by mid pack teams.
After a couple of laps the cars were unleashed and kicked up the water to be left hanging in the air, the lucky boy Mirko Birtolotti was out in front in his #63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini and taking advantage of this as he pulled away.
Further back cars were coming together. #563 Orange 1 FFF Lamborghini in the hands of Denis Lind received a love tap from #78 Barwell Motorsport at the Lesmo corners which saw Lind end up in the gravel with enough momentum to glide his way back out but not without dropping down the order. Within 3 laps Denis Lind was back up to 8th position. His car was superbly setup for the wet, he seemed to have grip whilst everyone else was just driving on ice it seemed.
Coming up to the 30 minute mark saw an incident occur between the #52 AF Corse and the #111 Antonelli Motorsport Mercedes AMG, this incident triggered the full course yellow of the race.
The Full course yellow was on for several minutes which teams took the gamble to come in. #63 GRT pitted under the FCY for tyres, it would later appear they had a slow puncture causing the loss of pace before the FCY.
The #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes was left out in the lead after the FCY in the hands of Nico Bastian and slowly edged a lead whilst the recovering #63 GRT was having a fight with the #2 WRT Audi. Denis Lind by this point had recovered from 8th back up to 4th after the first lap dramas for the car.
Just into the 2nd hour of the race and more pitstops would arrive, Bortolotti would pit after taking the lead and switched to Rolf Ineichen in the #63 GRT Lamborghini. By this point the rain had subsided and teams were considering slicks. Both Bentleys pulled in for a stop to change both onto slicks.
Rolf Ineichen was out second by this point but chased down and under attack from Raffaele Marciello in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes. Marciello wasted no time at all getting by the German and swiftly set about chasing down the early pitting #76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin driven by Jake Dennis. The #76 Aston Martin was out in front on wets on a drying track unlike the majority of the cars that was giving chase.
On a half dry, but greasy track surface the Porsche’s had come alive. The Mid to rear engined Porsche showed it’s traction advantage. The #99 Rowe Racing Porsche was battling it out with Zaid Ashkanani in the #54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche for 4th position overall. Ashkanani eventually getting the best of Porsche pro driver Matt Campbell.
Half race point and it seemed like the rain switch had been turned on again. Sprinkles of rain had been reported around the circuit just as the track seemed to pretty much dry out. With the Light rain falling the battles were intensified, non more so than the PRO- AM battle.
The #87 AKKA ASP with Jim Pla on board was fighting with #74 of RAM Racing. Going through the First chicane the cars were neck and neck with Jim Pla getting the drive out of the corner. The two cars entered Curva Grande with the #87 Akka of Pla nearly a car length ahead of Remon Vos on the outside loosing traction in the damp. Jim Pla got a touch from Remon on the left rear and speared him into the left hand barrier consequently ending the race with heavy front end damage.
Remon Vos also suffered damage from contact with the barrier rendering both cars out of the race and bringing out another FCY.
Tempesta Racing were debuting this weekend and so far stuck to staying out of trouble and had worked pretty well for them. The two AMG Mercedes out due to the accident this left the Tempesta Racing Ferrari in the lead of the PRO-AM class on the debut currently being driven Jonathan Hui.
During the FCY for the AMG fight that ended in tears, Jake Dennis benefitted massively by being able to pit the R-Motorsport Aston Martin for slick tyres but not lose too much time due to the slowed pace. R-Motorsport utilised the FCY well and only lost 3 positions dropping 3rd to 6th overall.
With 70 minutes remaining the green flags are waved once again to release the field back to racing. Leading the field was Marciello with Sven Muller freshly installed into the #98 ROWE Racing Porsche. Muller was pressuring Marciello from behind heading in to the second chicane, Marciello bumped over the kerbs losing drive and his position to Muller in the Porsche. Marciello was obviously struggling with his tyres, Ashkanani in the #54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche quickly caught and overtook Marciello further on at the Parabolica.
Marciello continued for only a handful of laps before he pulled in and handed the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes off to Michael Meadows. Meadows was on fresh wet tyres in the now dampening conditions once again.
Sainteloc had used strategy to their advantage and through further FCY, it had come through the shuffling pack to hold the lead without pitting. A safety car was deployed on circuit handing Sainteloc a golden opportunity to install Christopher Haase in for the end of the race.
Dinamic Motorsport were lined up behind, Romain Dumas was onboard the Rowe Racing Porsche with Marco Mapelli now wrestling the #563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini. The #4 Black falcon had crept up the order to 5th position with Maro Engel onboard.
40 minutes left on the clock saw the green flag once again. Dumas was immediately under pressure from Mapelli and Maro Engel. Making his way around the Lesmo’s saw Dumas put the rear into the gravel and swiftly fell down the order. Meadows in the #88 Mercedes with Maxime Soulet in the #108 Bentley made their way past. Dumas continued to fall all the way back to 14th before a puncture resulting in a 21st position finish.
The final stages of the race saw contenders fall by the way side. Dumas got his puncture to which he pitted and return to the circuit just as the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes driven by Michael Meadows entered the pits to retire with complete suspension failure. #10 WRT Audi then entered the pits with a left rear puncture. All these cars suffered problems on the same area of their cars.
With 12 minutes to go Christopher Haase onboard the #25 Sainteloc Audi was dropping down the pack. As we caught vision of the car it once again had a tyre failure the left rear of the car, making it 4 cars with similar problems all within 10 minutes.
Dinamic Motorsport had luck on their side and continued on wets on a drying circuit, struggling like others to find the damp patches to keep the tyres functioning. The team had tense moments watching others have the failures but it all paid off when Klaus Bachler took the chequered flag to take the victory.
15 seconds behind was Marco Mapelli in the #563 Orange 1 FFF Lamborghini with Maro Engel in the #4 Black falcon Mercedes taking the final step on the podium.
Felipe Fraga in the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes took the Silver cup win whilst Gabriele Piana took 2nd for the #6 Black Falcon AMG. #555 Orange 1 FFF of Diego Mencheca, Michele Beretta and Taylor Proto took the final podium spot in Silver Cup.
PRO-AM class win was taken by the #93 of Tempesta Ferrari driven by Jonathan Hui, Chris Buncombe and Chris Froggatt on their Blancpain Debut.
AM Cup was taken in style by Barwell Motorsport who finished in 16th overall, had of the PRO-AM class winners.
The next round of the Blancpain Endurance Cup arrives in Silverstone for the 11th and 12th of may, hopefully it’ll be received by some sunshine on the British shores.