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Results opening race provisional

The first event of the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series saw the #19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini cross the line in first position. However, after the race, the car was excluded from the meeting after the stewards deemed the refueling restrictor to be in breach of the regulations. GRT Grasser Racing Team has appealed against that exclusion. The #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari, with Norbert Siedler and Rinat Salikhov at the wheel, started from pole and was never out of the top three, eventually crossing the line in second and winning the Pro-Am Cup. Third to take the finish flag was the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi which climbed from fifth to the podium in the final 30 minutes, with reigning Blancpain Endurance Series champion Laurens Vanthoor at the wheel. The Am Cup was won by the #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Stephen Earle, Marco Zanuttini and Monza-rookie Liam Talbot.

With 58 cars taking the start of the first round the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series, the Monza race was always going to be a spectacular affair. Amazingly everybody got through the first chicane without any major damage, so all teams could immediately focus on the task at hand.

The new GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan of Fabio Babini dominated the Pro Cup rankings from the start, helped by the fact that the Italian had managed to put a few Pro-Am cars in between his green machine and the next Pro Cup contenders. In an uneventful first stint Babini took the overall lead of the race, giving the car to young American Andrew Palmer, after which Jeroen Mul completed the race.

With the Lamborghini out of reach, Laurens Vanthoor focussed on claiming the best result possible. The reigning champion started the final stint in sixth position overall after Jean-Karl Vernay and Robin Frijns – making his GT racing debut – had kept the nose of the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 clean during the opening two stints. Vanthoor had the #7 M-Sport Bentley behind him however, but when Steven Kane was spun round after a contact with another car, Vanthoor could focus on gaining as many overall places as possible. He eventually crossed the line in third and sixteen seconds ahead of the Bentley Boys and a lap ahead of the new #2 Audi Sport Team WRT R8 LMS, driven by Stephane Ortelli, Frank Stippler and Nico Müller. Still an impressive maiden race for a brand-new car that had never previously raced in the Blancpain Endurance Series.

The Pro-Am Cup was dominated by Ferrari, with two cars on the front row. Pierre Kaffer quickly took the lead away from polesitter Rinat Salikhov, but a different strategy including an early first pitstop made the #66 Black Pearl Racing by Rinaldi Ferrari fall down the order rather soon. Salikhov managed to hold on to the Pro-Am Cup lead, a position that was consolidated when Norbert Siedler completed the middle stint. In the final part of the race Salikhov and the #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari came under pressure from Alessandro Bonacini in the #11 Kessel Racing Ferrari, but when the Italian – sharing the car with Michal Broniszewski and Michael Lyons – had to cope with an overheating engine, his laptimes went up and he dropped to third in Pro-Am Cup. The #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron, which had started as seventh of the Pro-Am Cup cars, therefore completed an impeccable race as second in Pro-Am.

In the Am Cup Liam Talbot had put the #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari on pole, but in the opening stint team-mate Stephen Earle played the sensible card and thus managed to avoid getting into trouble. When Marco Zanuttini took over the car, the red machine climbed up the order to first place again. Australian Liam Talbot, the man who had travelled the farthest to make his debut in Monza, again showed his speed in the final stint and took an emotional Ferrari-win in the Italian temple of speed.

Laurens Vanthoor (#1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT): “Even without the safety car intervention I think I could have gained some places in the final stint. This podium finish is a good way to start my title defence. If we can manage to be consistent, to finish on the podium every time, we should be able to have a shot at the title. Finally, I would like to dedicate this podium finish to our mechanics. After our mishap in Nogaro they had to build a new car from the ground up and as you can see by the result, they did a fantastic job.”

Guy Smith (#7 M-Sport Bentley): “Because of the nature of the first corner and the run-up to it, Monza is probably one of the more difficult circuits to take a start. Once we managed to get through without any incidents, it was all about managing the gap towards the car behind us. We are not the fastest car around, but by maintaining a steady rhythm, we managed to gain some places.”

Rinat Salikhov (#333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari): “There is always some luck involved in racing, and when we managed to kept the lead in the second stint, we started to believe we might get a good overall result as well. I pushed hard in the final stint and thanks to the good work of the team we got this great result.

Liam Talbot (#111 Kessel Racing Ferrari): “It was really worthwhile to travel from Australia to Monza. I still think I am dreaming. To get a win in my first race in Monza, with a Ferrari, is just unbelievable. The team and my team-mates did an incredible job. I will be back in the Blancpain Endurance Series!

Next Race

Brands Hatch 09-10 May (Sprint)

Silverstone 22-24 May (Endurance)

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Blancpain - Innovation is our Tradition

Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit. From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past ten years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 35 new calibres.

Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the sportive L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.


Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier

Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.

Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.


SRO Motorsports Group - The architect of modern GT Racing

SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.

In 2015, SRO promotes several championships and series, such as the Blancpain GT Series (with the Blancpain Sprint Series and the Blancpain Endurance Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa), the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and the newly-created GT Sports Club and Ultracar Sports Club. SRO Motorsports Group has various franchise agreements, including the GT4 European Series.

SRO Motorsports Group runs also the SRO Race Centre by MMC, a high-level technical centre at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France.

SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.