The final weekend of September and another step closer to the end of the 2015 season. In Italy the Campionato Italiano Gran Turismo and Euro Series by Nova Race raced at Misano, while the French GT teams raced in Spain. GT Asia Series joined the touring cars at Shanghai, while Elliott Skeer secured the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama title at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Here’s a recap of all the action.
Campionato Italiano Gran Turismo
One week before the Blancpain Sprint Series will race at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, the Italian GT teams were there for the penultimate round of the 2015 season.
Stefano Gattuso and Matteo Malucelli won the first race of the weekend with their Ferrari 458 Italia. The Scuderia Baldini 27 drivers beat the Audi Sport Italia Audi R8 LMS ultra of Dindo Capello and Emanuele Zonzini. Gattuso lost the lead at the start to Ebimotors driver Vito Postiglione, who was given a five-second time penalty for not respecting the track limits soon after the start. Malucelli passed Postiglione’s teammate Vincenzo Donativi on lap 28, while Zonzini and Lorenzo Casè also passed him before the checkered flag came out.
In race two it was the Audi Sport Italia Audi R8 LMS ultra of Marco Mapelli and Andrea Amici that claimed victory. It was Audi Sport Italia’s first victory since July 2014. Mapelli kept the lead at the start and was still leading when he handed the car over to Amici. On the final lap Villorba Corse driver Giovanni Berton attacked Amici, but the Ferrari driver was unable to pass the Audi and finished 0.228s behind in second place.
Race 1 – 1. Scuderia Baldini 27 (Gattuso/Malucelli) Ferrari, 2. Audi Sport Italia (Capello/Zonzini) Audi, 3. Scuderia Baldini 27 (Giammaria/Casè) Ferrari.
Race 2 – 1. Audi Sport Italia (Mapelli/Amici) Audi, 2. Villorba Corse (Schirò/Berton) Ferrari, 3. MP1 Corse (Mugelli/Di Amato) Ferrari.GT Asia Series
GT Asia Series joined the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the Shanghai International Circuit this weekend, with a number of international top drivers joining the series for the two races in China.
On Saturday it was Craft-Bamboo Racing that won the first race, after a dramatic second part. Richard Lyons led from start until the pit stops, despite being attacked by Carlo van Dam. After the stops Frank Yu was sent into a spin in turn two, while FFF Racing’s Rod Salmon crashed heavily on the end of the straight, knocking down the barriers. On the restart following a 10-minute safety car period Daniel Lloyd quickly moved into second place, before catching Piti Bhirom Bhakdi. A three-way battle for the lead was won by Lloyd, who went on to win the race.
Lloyd and teammate Darryl O’Young dominated the second race, with Lloyd pulling away from the field and extending his lead to almost 14 seconds by the time the pit window opened. Despite the success penalty O’Young was still leading when he rejoined and the Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 managed to stay out in front for the remaining laps. O’Young crossed the line in first place, regaining the championship lead with just two races left.
Race 1 – 1. Craft-Bamboo Racing (O’Young/Lloyd) Aston Martin, 2. BBT Racing Team (Rizzo/Liu) Ferrari, 3. Singha Racing Team (Van Dam/Bhirom Bhakdi) Ferrari.
Race 2 – 1. Craft-Bamboo racing (O’Young/Lloyd) Aston Martin, 2. BBT Racing Team (Rizzo/Liu) Ferrari, 3. Bentley Team Absolute (Fong/Sawa) Bentley.FFSA GT Tour
The FFSA GT Tour teams travelled to the Circuito de Navarra in Spain for the second race outside France and the penultimate round of the 2015 season.
Porsche teams IMSA Performance Matmut and StratégiC battle for victory in the first race on Saturday. IMSA driver Olivier Pernaut took the lead from StratégiC’s Nicolas Misslin and led until the pit stops. After the stops Sébastien Dumez briefly took the lead, before Sacha Bottemanne passed him in the 40th minute. After the second round of pit stops Benjamin Lariche held a comfortable lead over Narac, who was unable to close the gap in the remaining laps. Sébastien Loeb Racing took third and fourth place with its Audi R8 LMS ultras.
Mike Parisy (Audi) started race two from pole position, but it was Enzo Guibbert’s Ferrari that took the lead. The pair battled for the lead during the first stint, until Parisy was forced to pit with a rear wheel issue. AKKA ASP’s Jean-Luc Beaubelique moved into the lead after the stops, as the Sport Garage Ferrari was delayed. The No. 20 Ferrari still led the race after the final round of pit stops, with Rino Mastronardi – who replaced Philippe Giauque at the last minute – crossing the line to claim victory. The two Duqueine Engineering cars completed a Ferrari podium sweep.
Race 1 – 1. StratégiC (Misslin/S. Bottemanne/Lariche) Porsche, 2. IMSA Performance Matmut (Pernaut/Dumez/Narac) Porsche, 3. Sébastien Loeb Racing (Hamon/c. Bottemanne/Martins) Audi.
Race 2 – 1. Team AKKA ASP (Mastronardi/Beaubelique/Moullin-Traffort) Ferrari, 2. Duqueine Engineering (Brandela/Strazzer/Panciatici) Ferrari, 3. Duqueine Engineering (Duqueine/Colancon/Beltoise) Ferrari.
IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama
IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA had the distinction of closing its season during Porsche Rennsport Reunion V at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and a Porsche aficionado emerged as champion after an excellent season.
Elliott Skeer, 21, has made no secret of his appreciation of Porsche, as a noted student of the manufacturer’s history. This year, he didn’t even have a ride settled until earning the IMSA Scholarship supported by Porsche and Yokohama, which allowed him the chance to race with Wright Motorsports in the championship.
Skeer banked his fifth win of the season in Saturday’s Round 15, which tied him with Jesse Lazare and Angel Benitez Jr. for the most in the Platinum Cup this season. Skeer led flag-to-flag in the 45-minute, 29-lap race, beating Lazare by 4.992 seconds to build enough of a gap to clinch the title.
It was a good thing Skeer had a 27-point gap to Lazare in the bank because he ended 22nd overall, 17th in the Platinum class, in Sunday’s Round 16. Colin Thompson, the 2014 series champion, won in the second race of a cameo appearance in the same car he took to the World Challenge GT Cup class title this year. Thompson took the lead on the opening lap of the 28-lap race, and beat Benitez by 4.632 seconds.
Race 1 — 1. Wright Motorsports (Elliott Skeer), 2. Kelly-Moss Motorsports (Jesse Lazare), 3. JDX Racing (Angel Benitez Jr.)
Race 2 — 1. Kelly-Moss Motorsports (Colin Thompson), 2. JDX Racing (Angel Benitez Jr.), 3. Kelly-Moss Motorsports (Jesse Lazare)Euro Series by Nova Race
The Euro Series by Nova Race teams joined the Italian GT teams at Misano for two races this weekend. Like at Spa-Francorchamps earlier this month it was the Lotus Evora GT4 of GT4 European Series regular Pavel Lefterov that won both rounds, beating a field of Ginetta G50s and Maserati GT MC Trofeo cars. The Bulgarian driver and his Bulavto Racing team will race at Misano again next weekend, during the final round of the GT4 European Series.
Race 1 – 1. Bulavto Racing (Lefterov) Lotus, 2. AKF Motorsport (Freymouth) Renault, 3. Nova Race (Magnoni) Ginetta.
Race 2 – 1. Bulavto Racing (Lefterov) Lotus, 2. Nova Race (Magnoni) Ginetta, 3. Scuderia Giudici (Giudice) Maserati.
Tony DiZinno contributed to this report