Points haul in Misano boosts R-Motorsports World Challenge efforts

Sunday, June 30, 2019

After what was surprisingly only the second round of the season so far, this weekends races from Misano in Italy proved themselves to be fruitful ones for the lone Aston Martin Racing team of R-Motorsport as everyone got themselves back down to business in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe Series.

Running with a new AMR Vantage GT3 in both Pro and Silver Cup, the Swiss based team was somewhat adrift in each championship table despite a reasonable points haul fist time out at Brands Hatch in early May so a good show in Misano was imperative for the team to maintain the season chances.

The #76 Pro car of Ricky Collard and Marvin Kirchhofer showed great intent in the first of Saturady's Qualifying sessions with the young British driver setting the 2nd best time to position their car on the front row of the grid for the 'into the evening' one hour sprint. The #62 Silver Cup of Aaro Vainio wasnt too far behind in the twenty eight car grid to Qualify P13 overall but P5 in class.

Qualifying 2 also took place soon after where this time the #62 car of Hugo de Sadeleer out qualified the Pro sister car of Kirchhofer to start P9 overall (P3 in class) compared to the unexpectedly low position of the #76 car in P13 - albeit just a second off the pole time such is the competitive nature of the competition.

With the weather conditions over most of Europe being extremely high this weekend, tyre wear and the management of which was going to be the controlling factor again as the preceding races before the evening start to the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe had already demonstrated.

At the start of Race 1, Collard soon found himself being past into the first sequence of corners dropping him down to P3 and already having to run defensively as the top two cars soon set about breaking away from the pack. Vainio meanwhile had had a better start in his #62 car to pick up a couple of early places as the sun began to drop to a visibility impairing level just above the horizon. Just after 15 minutes of racing, instances of contact between other cars and then one of the leaders spinning out into the gravel allowed both AMR's to pick up places without actually having to pass anybody.

With the pack having been slowed first by a Full Course Yellow and then Safety Car, racing only went back to green just as the pit window opened - too late for most to dart into the pit lane, and forcing most to do another lap as both R-Motorsport cars did before pitting - dropping the #76 down to P6 and the #62 P23 (P6 in class).

Another FCY and SC with just 20 minutes of racing left at least allowed the pack to close the gaps to one another on the restart and this allowed both AMR's to pick off a couple of easy places as the clock ticked down to the final minutes of the hour long race. At the chequered flag, the #76 car would finish a very credible P4 whilst the #62 would finish P17 overall (and also P4 in class). Great results and points for both cars.

For Race 2 on Sunday afternoon, the track temperature was just as high (if not hotter) than it was on Saturday evening but at least this time drivers had their own working knowledge of tyre degradation on the baking asphalt.

In a very hectic opening quarter to the race, it appeared that both AMR cars overtook many but were themselves overtaken by just as many to end up running somewhere very close to their respective starting position but both had dropped off some distance off the lead cars to the tune of 16 seconds for the #62 and 21 seconds for the #76 car.

Another FCY and SC, this time to remove a damaged sausage kerb was called just before the start of now delayed pit stop window which again put strategy at the forefront of the race engineers mind as race control tried to combat the possibility of a mass descent of 28 cars into the tight pit lane of Misano. With both cars having pitted at the half way mark of the race, both would also benefit from the results of penalties being awarded for FCY procedure infringements - that would list both cars up one position.

Outright pace was never a strong point of either AMR Vantage GT3 with the Audi, Mercedes and Lamborghini chassis' clearly faster as an overall package. What they did have was consistency and the ability of making the most of any opportunity from  errors made by others others leaving 'the door open' to them. Vainio did just that in the final minutes of the race as the Finn capitalised on a mistake between the battling Silver Cup leading pair to place his car in-between to take the next step up the podium.

At the chequered flag, the #62 car would cross the line P7 overall but incredibly P2 in class whilst the #76 car could do no more than P13. Another great race from the team with an invaluable large addition to their must needed points haul.

The teams now have just two weeks off before the third round of the series at Zandvoort, Holland before the attention of many turn to the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps just two weeks after that.

Photo credits - R-Motorsport / Blancpain GT

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