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Blancpain GT Sport Club 2016 - Round 5 - Circuit Paul Ricard - France

25th - 26th June 2016

Event report & photos by Raymond Bonnello

A record 29 cars traveled to Circuit Paul Ricard for round three and the halfway mark of the 2016 Blancpain GT Sports Club campaign.

Qualifying Race 25 minutes

Daniele Perfetti secured his, #87 AKKA ASP and Mercedes-AMG’s maiden Blancpain GT Sports Club victories at Circuit Paul Ricard this Sunday, June 26 morning thanks to a measured drive and late pass for the lead. Meanwhile, AF Corse’s reigning Iron Cup champion Martin Lanting (#48 Ferrari 458 Italia GTE) claimed a first class victory of the season with fourth overall.

Perfetti, who only confirmed his participation on Friday in addition to his Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup exploits, kept his nose clean during the frenetic opening laps that featured drive-through penalties and a Full Course Yellow period before passing Daniel Vogt’s older Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 (#18, HP Racing).

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While the latter was faster on the straights the newer car proved better through the corners, and it was at Signes with five minutes remaining that Perfetti made his pass thanks to a classic switch-back manoeuvre.

The Swiss eventually took the chequered flag 6.3s clear of the HP Racing Mercedes, which had inherited the lead when early pace-setters Egidio Perfetti (#888 Porsche 991 GT3 R, Mentos Racing), Michal Broniszewski (#11 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, Kessel Racing) and Maurice Ricci (#89 Mercedes-AMG GT3, AKKA ASP) were all handed drive-through penalties for excessively cutting the Mistral Straight’s chicane on lap one. 

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A subsequent Full Course Yellow period to retrieve Mario Cordoni’s stranded AF Corse #49 Ferrari 458 Italia, which also removed Patrick Van Glabeke’s #488 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 from second place, resulted in Coach McKansy’s #17 Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 HP Racing moving up to third. The German hassled Vogt over the closing laps but ultimately had to settle for the final step on the podium.

Lanting avoided the travails of others to climb from ninth on the grid to finish fourth, securing the Iron Cup spoils in the process, ahead of Alexis de Bernardi (#65 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, Kessel Racing) who drove a similarly smart race. Nicolas Vandierendonck’s #63 Salleslagh Racing Team Corvette C6 ZR1 GTE completed the top-six, one place clear of the recovering Egidio Perfetti who carved his way through from 13th after serving his drive-through.

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Broniszewski made similarly light work of the opposition en route to eighth ahead of Jean-Michel Baert (#12 Audi R8 LMS Ultra, Team WRT) and Marc Sourd (#30 Mercedes SLS GT3, Classic & Modern Racing), who was second in the Iron Cup classification.

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Stephen Earle (#111 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, Kessel Racing) completed the over-60s podium, while Ricci – who served his drive-through a lap earlier than both of his fellow offenders, could manage no better than 16th.

The afternoon’s 40-minute Main Race, which features the intriguing prospect of Egidio Perfetti and Broniszewski starting out of position but within range of the front, gets underway at 14:05.

Main race 40 minutes

Daniele Perfetti resisted a late challenge from his brother Egidio to claim his second Blancpain GT Sports Club victory of the day at Circuit Paul Ricard, while Martin Lanting also made it two Iron Cup wins in as many outings.

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Perfetti’s Qualifying Race victory earlier in the day owed much to the drive-through penalty that Egidio and several others incurred while leading the opening laps. That translated into a healthy grid advantage for the AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 over its likely Main Race victory rivals.

Daniel Vogt’s strong start from the front row initially helped him nose ahead, but Perfetti was almost immediately back in front, a position he would maintain over the following 40 minutes.

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Meanwhile, Michal Broniszewski – who started out of position as a result of his Qualifying Race drive-through penalty – wasted little time making up for lost time by carving his way through from eighth to second in the opening lap-and-a-half. However, he was unable to reel in Perfetti whose lead of 3.7s only increased further thereafter.

Indeed, Broniszewski was soon looking backwards rather than forwards thanks to the progress made by Egidio Perfetti. The Mentos Racing Porsche was a little slower out of the blocks but had climbed from seventh to third by quarter distance. He would soon catch the Kessel Ferrari ahead but took several laps to find a way through before setting off in pursuit of the leading Mercedes which, by then, had established a significant seven second advantage.

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That did not prevent Egidio from throwing everything at his brother over the final 15 minutes before ultimately having to settle for second, less than two seconds behind Daniele.

Broniszewski never had the pace to run with the Perfettis and eventually came home a distant third, albeit comfortably clear of Vogt who similarly enjoyed a lonely race in fourth.

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Coach McKansy’s scrap with Martin Lanting was a highlight of the opening laps before the Lamborghini Gallardo finally found a way past the AF Corse Ferrari 458 GTE en route to fifth, just 1.6s behind Vogt’s Mercedes.

Maurice Ricci, along with Perfetti and Broniszewski, was the third driver to be penalised for corner cutting at the start of the Qualifying Race and spent much of the second fighting his way through from 16th. A total of 10 places gained underlined his pace en route to sixth, one position clear of Lanting’s Ferrari which picked up the Iron Cup honours for the second time today.

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Nicolas Vandierendonck’s Corvette C6 ZR1 GTE came out on top in its battle with Marc Sourd’s Mercedes, which finished second in the Iron Cup, while Stephen Earle completed the over-60s’ podium and outright top-10.

All of that sees Broniszewski now leading the Overall classification by 10 points from Mario Cordoni whose earlier accident eliminated him from both races, while Perfetti’s maximum score means he is just five points further back in third. Meanwhile, reigning champion Lanting moves.

The Blancpain GT Sports Club returns for its fourth round of the season at Spa-Francorchamps on July 29/30.

(Based on Blancpain GT Sports Club press release)

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