The 2014 season is reaching the end, but several championships are yet to be decided. This weekend three national/regional series were in action for their penultimate rounds of the season: VLN at the Nürburgring for round nine, while GT Asia Series raced at Shanghai and the Italian GT Championship raced at Imola. No titles were decided this weekend though…but two of the three races saw Bentley making its debut.
The ninth round of the VLN championship at the Nürburgring marked the debut of the Bentley Continental GT3 in the series. Driven by works drivers Guy Smith, Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick, the car was involved in an incident on lap two and after being repaired used the rest of the race as a test session on the Nordschleife.
The four-hour race itself was won by the Rowe Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Christian Hohenadel and Maro Engel, beating the Audi Race Experience R8 LMS ultra of Marco Werner, Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhock by over 50 seconds. Lap times improved once again, with Frank Stippler (Phoenix Racing) lapping the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in a blistering 7:57.474 during qualifying.
The pole sitting Audi hit the Rowe Mercedes in the first corner, on lap five a puncture resulted in the team dropping out of contention. Werner, Haase and Winkelhock were unable to threaten Hohenadel and Engel, who went on to win the race.
Race – 1. Rowe Racing (Hohenadel/Engel) Mercedes, 2. Audi Race Experience (Werner/Haase/Winkelhock) Audi, 3. Phoenix Racing (Basseng/Stippler) Audi.
Italian GT Championship
Round six of the Italian GT Championship was held at Imola this weekend. In an incident-packed first race on Saturday Easy Race drivers Marco Magli and Luigi Ferrara took their first victory of the season. The team’s Ferrari 458 Italia rejoined in second place after the pit stops and soon Magli was chasing BMS Scuderia Italia’s Luigi Lucchini. On lap 23 Lucchini went off at Acque Minerali, allowing Magli to take the lead and eventually the race win.
In race two it was the Scuderia Baldini 27 Ferrari of Lorenzo Casè and Raffaele Giammaria taking its first win of the season. Lamborghini driver Mirko Bortolotti led the race during his stint, but his Gallardo developed a problem as the pit window was open, resulting in teammate Barri having to return to the pits soon after he had taken over. Giammaria took the lead and left everyone behind, while Audi driver Mapelli battled with Mora for second place. Giammaria went on to win the race, ahead of Mapelli.
Race 1 – 1. Easy Race (Ferrara/Magli) Ferrari, 2. MP1 Corse (Balzan/Benucci) Ferrari, 3. Audi Sport Italia (Mapelli/Schoffler) Audi.
Race 2 – 1. Scuderia Baldini 27 (Giammaria/Casè) Ferrari, 2. Audi Sport Italia (Mapelli/Schoffler) Audi, 3. BMS Scuderia Italia (Pier Guidi/Lucchini) Ferrari.
GT Asia Series
After 12 from 13 rounds in the 2014 GT Asia Series nothing has been decided. The two rounds at the Shanghai International Circuit ended with Ferrari’s taking the wins – pending an appeal by Craft-Bamboo Racing. Clearwater Racing drivers Mok Weng Sun and Keita Sawa head to Macau with a six-point lead over teammates Rob Bell and Hiroshi Hamaguchi.
Anthony Liu and Davide Rizzo (BBT Ferrari) took the win in the first race, despite pressure from the Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3 of Jean-Karl Vernay and Gilles Vannelet, making its debut in the series. Vernay took the lead at the start ahead of Liu and Lyons. After the pit stops Vannelet was still in the lead, but chased by Rizzo. Within half a lap Rizzo managed to pass Vannelet. Despite a spin Vannelet held onto his position and finished second behind Rizzo.
In race two the BBT Ferrari lost out to the Bentley again, but a safety car resulted in the cars staying close to each other. After the stops the NB Team Aston Martin was in the lead, ahead of the Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston. They finished in that order, but were then penalized for too short pit stops. NB Team decided not to appeal, Craft-Bamboo Racing did. As a result Yu and Lyons were classified as race winners again, ahead of Matt Griffin and Richard Wee (Clearwater Racing).
Race 1 – 1. BBT (Liu/Rizzo) Ferrari, 2. Absolute Racing (Vernay/Vannelet) Bentley, 3. Craft-Bamboo Racing (Lyons/Yu) Aston Martin.
Race 2 – 1. Craft-Bamboo Racing (Lyons/Yu) Aston Martin, 2. Clearwater Racing (Griffin/Wee) Ferrari, 3. Clearwater Racing (Sawa/Mok) Ferrari.