Louis Prette and Vincent Abril took their fourth win of the season, at the wheel of the AF Corse APM Monaco Ferrari 488, re-launching their championship chances, as they reduced to one single point their gap with respect to championship leaders, Miguel Ramos-Henrique Chaves (TMM McLaren), today 4th, ahead of Salih Yoluc-Charlie Eastwood (TF Sport Aston Martin), now 18 points from the lead.
“It was a strong race”, reckoned the Monegasque duo, “but everything went well once we could unlock ourselves”. Prette was indeed stuck in P4 during the initial stint, while in the second part of the race, Abril could pass the Team Lazarus Bentley of Yannick Mettler, which had led first stint with Crestani. The Swiss-Italian pair finished an excellent second ahead of the Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin of Ahmad Al Harthy and Tom Cunning, who took third and won in Pro-Am in its debut.
Valentin Pierburg-Nicholas Foster (SPS Automotive Mercedes) and Brendan Iribe-Ollie Millroy (Optimum Motorsport McLaren) completed the Pro-Am podium, while Jens Liebhauser-Florian Scholze (GetSpeed Performance Mercedes) won for the seventh time in Am.
THE RACE – At the start, Fabrizio Crestani keeps the lead while Ortelli and Millroy steal second and third with a great first lap, ahead of Canning, Ramos, Yoluc and Hahn. The gaps do not stretch much, with the first five covered by 8 seconds after six laps, while Ortelli posts the fastest lap in 2.17.318.
At the top, things get interesting, as Ortelli catches Crestani and starts threatening him, although the lapping of Cup cars gives the Bentley some breathing space. Behind the first seven, Liebhauser is now 8th, leading in Am ahead of various Pro-Am cars.
In lap 12, opens the windowfor driver change, with Yoluc, Hahn, Krupinski and Pierburg bieing the first to stop; one lap later, it’s the leader coming in, while Ortelli inherits the lead and continues his show, although he gets a 3-second penalty for having passed the track limits repeatedly in turn 4.
The attention though shifts to the battle for the virtual lead, as Mettler and Abril are together after the pit stops and the Monegasque attacks successfully the Swiss from the outside at La Source at the beginning of lap 18. After all pit stops, Iribe is in the lead with the Optimum Motorsport McLaren, with 5 seconds on Abril, 8 on Mettler, 11 on Al-Harthy, then Negro, Chaves, Eastwood and Foster. Abril takes the lead in lap 21 at Les Combes. In lap 22, Mettler gains second from Iribe, who has to let past also Al-Harthy and Chaves, with the Portuguese passing Al-Harthy soon after, but in the last lap the Omani retakes third.
Leutwiler did not take the start, as didn’t obviously the two cars destroyed in yesterday’s accidents in FP2: the AKM Motorsport Mercedes (with Nesov out at the Raidillon) and the Team Lazarus Bentley (with Varrone out at Blanchimont).