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The Road to the Championship: Kessel Racing

GT3 - 07/11/2019 - Jeff CARTER

In 2018, Swiss team Kessel Racing entered the Michelin Le Mans Cup and won the title with Italian duo Sergio Pianezzola and Giacomo Piccini in the team’s Ferrari 488 GT3. In 2019, the same combination endeavoured to become the first driver and team line-up to retain the title and in true championship winning style did just that.

They amassed a total of 130 points, 21 ahead of their nearest rivals in the no71 Luzich Racing Ferrari, Mikkel Mac and Fabien Lavergne. Piccini and Pianezzola scored four victories, one second, one third place and a one 6th place finish from the seven races, coupled with an extra point for the pole position at their home race at Monza.

The season started well with a win at the opening round at Paul Ricard. Fabien Lavergne took the first pole position of the 2019 season, finishing just over three tenths of a second ahead of Sergio Pianezzola in second place. In the race Sergio Pianezzola and Giacomo Piccini got the defence of their title with Kessel Racing off to the best start with a hard-fought victory, despite a late race one seconds stop and go penalty for not respecting the pitstop time. The Italian duo finished 82 seconds ahead of the rest of the GT3 field.

In Round 2, at Monza, Sergio Pianezzola put the Ferrari on pole position with a new MLMC fastest lap for the GT3 class around the 5.7km track of 1m49.109. In the stormy conditions of the final 15-minutes of the race in Italy it was the no71 Luzich Ferrari which won the race with the no8 Kessel Ferrari in second place following a drive through penalty for Giacomo Piccini for causing a collision with an LMP3 competitor.

At the Road to Le Mans event in June the no71 Luzich Racing Ferrari was victorious for the second time in the first of the two 55-minute races on the full 13.6km La Sarthe circuit, with the no8 Kessel Ferrari finishing in 6th place.  In the second race on Saturday morning, a few hours before the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the no71 Ferrari took another victory, with Giacomo Piccini and Sergio Pianezzola finishing on the podium in third place behind the no99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage.

The Luzich Racing duo of Fabien Lavergne and Mikkel Mac were leading the championship with 72 points against 55 points for Piccini and Pianezzola and the Italian crew knew they had to start clawing some of the points deficit back in the final three races of the 2019 season.

They did just that taking three straight wins in Barcelona, Spa-Francorchamps and in Portimão against a third place, a fourth place and a 6th place finish for Luzich Racing.

In Spain, Sergio Pianezzola and Giacomo Piccini finished 9.2 seconds ahead of Riccardo Pera and Alessandro Baccani in the no88 Ebimotors Porsche and 31.6 seconds ahead Mac and Lavergne. 

In Belgium the no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari took the win to move ahead in the championship by 9 points after a big challenge from the no99 Beechdean AMR Vantage of Ross Gunn, which finished just 1.2 seconds behind the winning Ferrari after starting at the back of the grid.

In Portugal, the no71 Luzich Racing Ferrari of Fabien Lavergne led the GT3 field, well ahead of his championship rival Sergio Pianezzola in the no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari, which had started at the back of the grid following a technical issue in post qualifying scrutineering. However, at T6 the Lavergne’s luck ran out as he was hit from behind as he avoided a spinning LMP3 car.  The Ferrari suffered a blown tyre and rear left damage and the car limped back to the pits for repairs but a lap down when he rejoined dead last.   

The victory in Portugal gave the 2019 championship to Kessel Racing with 130 points, 21 more than Luzich Racing in second place. Sergio Pianezzola and Giacomo Piccini celebrated their second drivers’ championship in a row on the top step of the podium in Portimão.

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