Andrew Palmer, Fabio Babini and Jeroen Mul gave the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 a dominant win on its debut race at Monza, crossing the line with a margin of 37 seconds on the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari of Norbert Siedler and Rinat Salikhov.
The GRT Grasser Racing Team run car started its home race from third on the grid, and after Babini spent the first hour in P2 behind the No. 66 Black Pearl by Rinaldi Ferrari of Pierre Kaffer, Andrew Palmer took the lead after the first round of stops.
The American then went on to build up a big lead of more than 20 seconds on the other (No. 333) Rinaldi Racing Ferrari of Norbert Siedler.
A big crash of Ronnie Valori’s No. 54 Attempto Racing McLaren 650S 45 minutes from the end brought out the safety car, reducing the gap considerably, but the large amount of traffic between the leaders meant Mul could easily regain his previous lead.
The Dutchman crossed the line with a margin of more than 37 seconds on a surprisingly quick Rinat Salikhov, driving the green Rinaldi Ferrari to a Pro-Am Cup win and second overall.
The dominant showing and shock win of the new Lamborghini came despite a late adjustment in the Balance of Performance on Monday, increasing the ride height of the car by one centimeter.
“It’s a fairy tale! We didn’t believe this was possible after the BoP change, all our setup data became irrelevant. I’m speechless…” said an emotional Gottfried Grasser.
“Incredible, I started the year winning the two biggest endurance races in U.S. and now this,’ added Palmer. “GRT did a great job, working hard to finish our chassis on time, and pushing all the weekend to get this win.”
Rinaldi Racing wasn’t the only Pro-Am team to shine at Monza, as the predominantly present Ferraris were in a class of their own on the Italian track.
The No. 11 Kessel Racing 458 Italia of Michael Lyons, Michael Broniszewski and Alessandro Bonacini was on its way to an overall podium, but late mechanical troubles meant the car fell back to P7 in the final laps of the race.
That gave the No. 1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 LMS ultra of Laurens Vanthoor, Jean-Karl Vernay and Robin Frijns the opportunity to grab a last-minute podium.
Following Frijns’ difficult middle stint and the second safety car intervention, Vanthoor went on a charge and overtook the stricken Kessel car and Duncan Cameron’s AF Corse Ferrari (P4) to finish third.
“This win is for our mechanics, they had to work so hard this week to prepare a completely new car after last week’s crash at Nogaro,” said Vanthoor.
Bentley Boys Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane drove a steady race and ended up in fifth, taking home the points of the final podium position in the Pro Cup.
The new Audi R8 LMS GT3 also had a promising Blancpain debut, with Stéphane Ortelli, Frank Stippler and Nico Müller moving up the order as the race progressed, the WRT-run car crossed the line in sixth, one lap down on the winner.
Both Von Ryan Racing McLaren 650S GT3s struggled at the Italian temple of speed, the two factory lineups finishing a distant 16th and 26th.