The No. 63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Mirko Bortolotti, Andrea Calderelli and Christian Engelhart dominated the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup opener at Monza, a race that was marred by a massive crash on the opening lap.
Contact between the No. 7 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 of Guy Smith and the No. 19 GRT Lamborghini of Ezequiel Perez Companc caused a big pile up at the start and took out more than ten cars straight away.
Following a lengthy red flag period, Bortolotti put the leading SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Miguel Molina under pressure during the opening hour.
A quick pitstop by the GRT crew then brought the No. 63 Lamborghini out in front, with Calderelli building up a 26-second lead on Victor Shaytar in the SMP Racing Ferrari over the middle part of the race.
Engelhart just had to bring the car home in the final hour, crossing the line with a 29-second margin on the No. 50 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 of Michele Rugolo, Pasin Lathouras and Alessandro Pier Guidi.
“After the first pitstop the team told me I had a five-second gap and after that I didn’t check my mirrors anymore,” said Caldarelli.
“We saved all our new tires for the race, so I knew we had great pace. We took a bit of a risk with that strategy in qualifying, but it turned out well.”
Pole sitter Pier Guidi spent the final 30 minutes battling for second with Clemens Schmid in the No. 75 ISR Audi R8 LMS, but got handed P2 when the Audi’s left rear tire delaminated on the start-finish straight five minutes from the end.
Jimmy Eriksson, Maxi Buhk and Franck Perera finished third (+38sec) in the No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 following steady climb up the order from sixteenth on the grid.
Buhk and Perera strengthen their lead in the overall standings with this result.
SMP Racing was initially on course to finish second after Davide Rigon retook the position they lost to ISR during the final round of stops, but the Italian dropped back to fifth following a drive through penalty for overtaking under yellow.
Kaspersky Motorsport made it three Ferraris in the top five, with Marco Ciocci, James Calado and Giancarlo Fisichella coming in fourth.
Despite the unfortunate black flag for the No. 7 Bentley Continental GT3 following the miscommunication regarding the penalty for the incident at the start, M-Sport still brought home the points for sixth with the No. 8 Bentley of Vince Abril, Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek.
Jonny Adam and Ahmad Al Harty took a hard fought win with the TF Sport-run Oman Racing Team in the Pro-Am Cup.
Adam overtook the No. 11 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Andrea Rizzoli at the end of the race to finish eight overall and managed to set the fastest lap of the race along the way.
The No. 58 Strakka Racing McLaren 650S made an impressive comeback after being involved in the incident on the opening lap.
The car of Rob Bell, Come Ledogar and Ben Barnicoat restarted the race from the pitlane and managed to fight its way back up to tenth overall, just in front of the sister No. 44 McLaren.
Only 29 out of the 50 cars on the grid finished the race.