One day after making Blancpain GT Sports Club history as the first Iron Cup driver ever to claim an outright win, AF Corse’s Piergiuseppe Perazzini doubled up at Spa-Francorchamps as the Italian racer took victory in Saturday’s Main Race with the #53 Ferrari 488 GT3.
It was not all plain sailing for Perazzini, who still had to manage another Safety Car period following a contact in the early stages of the 40-minute event. Trying to overtake Claude-Yves Gosselin’s #4 Boutsen Ginion-run Lamborghini Gallardo Extenso R-EX on the approach to the final chicane, CMR’s Pierre Hirschi put two wheels on the grass and found himself airborne after bouncing off the kerb. His #21 BMW Z4 GT3 ended up collecting the hapless Cédric Leimer in the #963 Autovitesse Garage R.Affolter Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
Before that incident, Patrick van Glabeke had once again enjoyed a strong getaway from third on the grid to edge past Blancpain GT Sports Club Overall points leader Anthony Pons (#72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3). Having scored his maiden podium finish of the season on Friday, the Belgian ace was clearly hungry for more as he tried a move on race leader Perazzini as soon as the race got back under way. Van Glabeke dived on the inside of his AF Corse team-mate at La Source but he overshot the corner and spun as he rejoined the track.
Third-placed Pons could not avoid the #488 Ferrari 488 GT3 but despite the ensuing contact the Frenchman was able to continue, though he immediately came under pressure from Rinaldi Racing’s Christian Hook in the #33 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.
Behind the top-three drivers, there were exciting scraps in the points-paying positions, involving the likes of Klaus Dieter Frers (#3 Artega Rennsport Ferrari 488 GT3), Christoph Ulrich (#51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3), and Karim Ojjeh (#2 Boutsen Ginion BMW M6 GT3). That’s when the latter started unleashing more speed to scythe through the field.
Ojjeh was soon up to fourth place and closing in fast on Hook, while Perazzini and Pons had already disappeared up the road. The Boutsen Ginion ace continued to pounce and vaulted himself up to third with a clean move on the Rinaldi Racing driver at the final chicane.
As the clock ticked down to zero, Perazzini made it two wins in as many races at Spa, with Pons cementing his place atop the Blancpain GT Sports Club standings courtesy of another valuable points haul. Ojjeh claimed his third top-three finish of the season in another high-scoring weekend.
Christoph Ulrich secured a season-best result of fourth after overhauling Christian Hook on the final lap. Sixth was Klaus Dieter Frers, whose strong weekend in Belgium earns him the Iron Cup points lead ahead of rival Stephen Earle (#111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3).
Herberth Motorsport’s Edward Lewis Brauner finished a solid seventh aboard the #991 Porsche 991 GT3 R, while Sri Lanka’s Dilantha Malagamuwa claimed the Xtra Cup honours with a strong drive to eighth place in the #24 GDL Racing-entered Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo.
Stephen Earle, who secured third in the Iron Cup category, and Claude-Yves Gosselin completed the top 10 positions to wrap up an action-packed weekend at the daunting 7.004km venue.
Piergiuseppe Perazzini, #53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3: “What a weekend! That’s the best feeling you can have; it’s impossible to top that. Our pace was very strong all along and the car behaved perfectly. But it’s never easy so I am delighted with the double win.”
Anthony Pons, #72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The start felt like deja vu with Patrick [van Glabeke] getting past. I did not close the door as I was hoping to get him back later on. At the restart, I think he went just over the limit, locking all four wheels. Then he spun and I could not avoid him. There was quite a thump and I was not sure whether the car was still working properly so we checked the water and oil temperatures over one lap before resuming our normal pace. Once again, the race-winning Ferrari was super fast through the first sector but I am confident we could have had a shot at the win if we had raced the entire 40 minutes amid tyre degradation. Still, I am happy to reach another chequered flag with valuable points in the bag.”
Karim Ojjeh, #2 Boutsen Ginion BMW M6 GT3: “I have not really taken that many starts in my racing career previously. This is actually the first time I’m doing a lot of rolling starts so I’m getting to understand what to do but I hate taking risks. At the restart, I had several cars ahead of me. The first one, it took me bit of time to figure out where to pass but I saw the opportunity after the double left-hander [Pouhon]. I was like ‘if I don’t do it now, it’s never going to happen’ so I just risked it. The driver in front was very nice. He knew I was coming in faster and did not close the door. And then through Blanchimont I managed to pick up another position from Klaus [Frers]. I continued to push after that, which allowed me to get third place in the end.”
Round five of this year’s Blancpain GT Sports Club campaign takes place on August 25-27 at Budapest’s Hungaroring, an exciting addition to the 2017 calendar. Once again, SRO Motorsports Group’s Bronze-only drivers series will act as a support event to the high-profile Blancpain GT Series, with the Hungarian Grand Prix venue hosting the penultimate Sprint Cup meeting. Both Blancpain GT Sports Club races will be streamed live on our official website and Facebook page, as well as SRO’s GT World YouTube channel with English and French commentary.
1. Piergiuseppe Perazzini (#53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3) takes the chequered flag in Saturday’s Main Race to cap his perfect Blancpain GT Sports Club weekend.
2. Anthony Pons (#72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3), Piergiuseppe Perazzini (#53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3), Karim Ojjeh (#2 Boutsen Ginion BMW M6 GT3) and Xtra Cup winner Dilantha Malagamuwa (#24 GDL Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo)
3. The Iron Cup podium finishers following Saturday's Main Race at Spa-Francorchamps with, from left to right, Klaus Dieter Frers (#3 Artega Rennsport Ferrari 488 GT3), Piergiuseppe Perazzini (#53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3), and Stephen Earle (#111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3)