An early accident ends 24h of Spa

Pierres Ferrari on the grid - picture: Rene Jüptner
Pierres Ferrari on the grid - picture: Rene Jüptner
The GT Corse Ferrari #458 on the track at Spa - picture: Rene Jüptner
The GT Corse Ferrari #458 on the track at Spa - picture: Rene Jüptner

Pierre Ehret and his teammates had to register an early retirement in the 66.th 24h of Spa-Francorchamps, the 4th round of the Blancpain Endurace Series last weekend. After 2 1/2 hours into the race the Ferrari F458 GT3 of the german GT-Corse by Rinaldi Racing squad was involved in a multiple car collision on the restart after a safety-car period. Ehrets teammate Tim Müller was at the wheel, when the Ferrari crashed out at the famous and fearsome Radillion corner.

Pierre Ehret was disillusioned: "This is a sad day for the GT Corse team! Not only our car but also our teammates in the Pro-Am class were involved in heavy accidents. Both chassis are effectively write-offs. At least both of our drivers are ok!."

"The race started well. I drove the first stint and apart from minor issues with the brakes and the cooling lines there were no incidents to report. Then Alexander Mattschull took over for the 2nd stint and handed the car to Tim Müller during the 2nd safety car. On the restart, which was right away followed by another accident, he was able to avoid another car spinning out at Radillion. But when the subsequent 3rd SC ended, another Ferrari spun out on the same corner, stopped in the middle of the track and Tim was right behind it. He chosed to pass the Ferrari on the left but the he got a hit of another opponent sending him right into a collision with the stranded Ferrari and then into the barrieres."

GT Corse Teammanager Danny Pfeil: "The damage at the car is very severe. We wil have to rebuild it right from the ground. The most important thing today is that no one of our pilots was severely hurt in the heavy accidents."

The GT Corse by Rinaldi Team had to resuffle the driver-linup in its GTR-class leading #458 in advance of the 66th 24h von Spa. Pierre Ehret and Alexander Mattschull remained, but for Frank Schmickler, who is due to return to the wheel at the final round  - the Blancpain 1000km of Nürburgring - german Pilot Tim Müller and dutch Roger Grouvels joined on board of the green Ferrari. After a conservative qualifying, the team was set for a smooth race in the 61 car big grid.

These hopes were badly dissappointed within the first 5 hours. A series of accidents early into the race led to 4 subsequent safety-car-periods in the first 3 hours. The 4th accident was initiated by a spin of AF Corse Ferrari-pilot Andrew Danilew at the exit of Eau Rouge. Dannilew stranded at the middle of the track in the following Radillion-corner and was hit by at least 3 othe cars, one of which was the GT Corse-Ferrari of Tim Müller. The other GT Corse by Rinaldi Racing Ferrari with the pilots Marco Seefried/Vadim Korgay/Rinat Solikhov/Norbert Siedler was 2 hours later involved in another heavy accident when pilot Korgay had an encounter with the Kessel Racing Ferrari of Marcus Mahy in the Stavelot corner and crashed heavily into the barriers. The GT-Corse Ferrari with the #333 went on fire and burned down, while for the evacuation of Mahy the race had to be red flagged.

Due to their retirement, GT Corse and Alexander Mattschull lost their lead in the driver- and team-standings in the Gentlemanclass of the Blancpain Endurance Series, while the class winning AF Corse Ferrari took the lead in both tables. While a small mathematical chance on the title remains, chances for a revenge at the final race , the Blancpain 1000km at the Nürburgring, are very low. A return for the rebuild car is scheduled there, while the realisation of other planned races - GT Corse intended to partcipate at least on 3 additional rounds of the VLN Endurance Championship on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife - now depend on the rebuild schedule of the #458.