The Audi R8 LMS # 32 of Team WRT driven by Dries Vanthoor, Kelvin Van Der Linde and Charles Weerts wins the 3h of Imola, the first Endurance Cup race of the GT World Challenge Europe which had sensational implications that have questioned until the end every single position.
Already at the start, the Safety Car had to intervene due to a contact that saw Sarah Bovy (Ferrari # 83-Iron Lynx) and Patryk Krupinsky (McLaren # 112-JP Motorsport) finish KO at the ‘Rivazza’, with restart on lap 6.
At lap 20, another grouping for four laps when at the same corner Rob Collard was covered up with the Lamborghini # 77 of Barwell Motorsport, touched by the Mercedes # 93 of Jonathan Hui (Sky Tempesta Racing), while the most sensational episodes took place in the central part.
Here, on lap 53, Full Course Yellow and SC for the problem that stopped the Aston Martin # 97 of Theo Nouet (Beechdean AMR) in the climb towards the ‘Piratella’, with the Lamborghini # 27 of Jordan Witt (Leipert Motorsport) that he slowed down and then managed to continue after a short stop.
When the race was about to resume (lap 56), in the ascent of the ‘Acque Minerali there was the sensational rear-end collision of Matthieu De Robiano, who hit Witt in full with the Bentley # 107. Debris of the two cars scattered everywhere and the CMR driver rescued by the medical car, at which point the Safety Car had to intervene again.
At this juncture everyone opted to make the second stop and here was the clamorous mistake of Valentino Rossi, who passed the Team WRT pitch without stopping. We will then explain this episode in more detail.
Between chaos and excitement, the race restarted with Vanthoor in the lead (where both Weerts and Van Der Linde had been) able to stretch and win on the Mercedes of Juncadella / Marciello / Gounon (# 88 Akkodis-ASP) and Stolz / Engel / Schothorst (# 2 GetsSpeed Performance), these completed the podium.
Stolz fought hard in the last 40 ‘against a devilish Mattia Drudi, who however had to settle for fourth place in the Audi # 12 of Tresor by Car Collection shared with Ghiotto / Haase.
A consistent Top5 brought home by Klien / Abril / Lind in the JP Motorsport McLaren # 111, keeping behind the comeback Porsche # 54 of Cairoli / Bachler / Ledogar (Dinamic), with behind the Ferrari 488s of the Iron Lynx entrusted to Calado / Molina / Nielsen (# 51) and Serra / Rigon / Fuoco (# 71).
The Top10 of all PRO competitors also sees the presence of the Audi # 25 of Saintéloc (Legeret / Niederhauser / Mies) and the McLaren # 38 of Jota (Kirchhofer / Bell / Wilkinson), which had lost some positions after a contact with Lamborghini # 63 by Costa / Bortolotti / Aitken, only 14th.
Among other things, we must also point out the error of Legeret when he was in second place, who went very wide at the exit of the Villeneuve curve and collapsed 14th during the 49th lap.
The final confusion also cut the legs at the great race that the Aston Martin # 95 of the Beechdean AMR was doing with Thiim / Sorensen / Martin, who came to fight in second place, but then slipped into the middle of the group, finishing twelfth behind the BMW # 98 by Farfus / Catsburg / Yelloly (Rowe Racing).
Returning to Rossi, Team WRT had started with Nico Müller at the wheel and the Swiss had completed his first hour session in 14th place, leaving room for Valentino.
The “Doctor” joined his rivals trying to keep contact and climbing 13th when Costa touched Bell, who lost positions. On lap 10, however, an error put Rossi behind his teammate Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer and then he regained a decent pace considering that for the 9-time world champion in the World Championship it was his debut in the GT category.
At that moment of the second hour the Safety Car gathered everyone and then the pinwheel of stops started. The driver from Tavullia entered the pit lane behind Simmenauer, but blatantly missed the pitch, with the signpost (who had remained behind the white line to make Simmenauer’s Audi # 30 pass) chasing him.
Valentino, who had already begun to loosen his seat belts, therefore had to continue for another round, descending in the standings and giving the car to Frédéric Vervisch now far from the positions that matter. The Belgian finished 17th overall and 15th in the PRO Class.
Simmenauer, with Goethe / Neubauer, celebrated the triumph together with WRT also in the Silver Class ahead of the Audi # 99 of Schöll / Zug / Aka (Attempto), for a long time before and then remained mocked in the final. Podium completed by the Garage 59 team in the # 159 McLaren of Kjaergaard / Simioni / Maldonado.
The Pro-Am sees the Mercedes # 20 of SPS driven by Baumann / Loggie / Pierburg soar, followed by the Ferrari # 52 of AF Corse (Bertolini / Costantini / Machiels) initially delayed by a puncture, and the McLaren # 188 of Chaves / West / Ramos (Garage 59).
Gold Cup which finally goes to Herberth Motorsport Porsche # 911 (R.Renauer / A.Renauer / Bohn) beating AF Corse Ferrari # 21 (Balzan / Sbirrazzuoli / Delacour) and HRT Mercedes # 5 (Maini / Haupt / Scholze).
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