Three in a row for the Lamborghini
Lamborghini factory drivers Mirko Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli and Christian Engelhart secured the third win in a row for the Grasser Racing Team’s Huracán GT3, claiming a hard-fought victory in the 3 Hours of Silverstone, second of the 2017 Endurance Cup rounds.
Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport car of Franck Perera, Jimmy Eriksson and Maxi Buhk finished second for a mere 0.344s, with the other Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Edoardo Mortara, Michael Meadows and Raffaele Marciello, fielded by AKKA ASP, took the third position.
At the start Bortolotti took the lead at Copse Corner from second place on the grid, as the Italian driver overhauled the pole-sitting AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Felix Serralles. Bortolotti quickly opened a comfortable gap of over six seconds up front, while Serralles fell out of contention when he was judged guilty of a false start and had to serve a one-minute Stop-and-Go penalty.
Behind, Jonny Kane’s Strakka Racing McLaren 650S GT3 was sent into the barriers, which triggered a lengthy Safety Car period. AKKA ASP put the neutralisation to great use with an early pit stop that promoted the Mercedes-AMG GT3 into the top spot ahead of the GRT Huracan.
Taking over racing duties from Bortolotti, Caldarelli immediately started hounding new leader Michael Meadows but despite tremendous pressure from the Grasser driver, the British ace held his ground on home turf. Third-placed Jimmy Eriksson took advantage of the battling duo up the road to reel them in with Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport’s machine. The Swedish driver was soon all the over the back of Caldarelli and when the Italian lost momentum trying to overtake Meadows, Eriksson pounced on the inside of the Lamborghini to grab P2. The trio continued to run nose-to-tail all the way through to the final round of pit stops, with Bentley Team M-Sport Andy Soucek in the Continental GT3 even making it a four-way battle as they all peeled into the pit lane with just over 60 minutes of action left on the clock.
Excellent service work from the GRT crew enabled Christian Engelhart to leapfrog the two Mercedes cars and emerge back in the lead. The German driver resisted Raffaele Marciello’s charge, with Buhk and Davide Rigon’s SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 also breathing down the race leader’s neck. The traffic almost costed the Lamborghini the lead but it was Marciello who ultimately lost out, as the Italian ace slipped behind Buhk. Engelhart crossed the line with three seconds to go. That meant an extra lap holding off the charging Buhk. Engelhart kept his cool under intense pressure to clinch Grasser’s third win in as many Blancpain GT Series weekends, following their successes at Monza and Brands Hatch.
The Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 shared by Martin Kodrić, Adrian Amstutz and Patrick Kujala claimed the PRO-AM honours, while Rinaldi Racing’s Ferrari 488 GT3 topped the AM class with Pierre Ehret and Rino Mastronardi.
The 2017 Blancpain GT Series now heads to its halfway mark next month at Zolder with round five of this year’s campaign – the third Sprint Cup event of the season – over the weekend of 3rd-4th June.