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They Came – They Conquered!

LMC - 29/11/2018 - Jeff CARTER

Sergio Pianezzola, Giacomo Piccini and Kessel Racing dominated the GT3 class in 2018 with the Italian duo and the Swiss team taking six podiums, including five wins, from seven starts, four of them from pole position in the no8 Ferrari F488 GT3. At the end of the season they had amassed 138 points, 55 ahead of their nearest rivals, Road to Le Mans winners Christoph Ulrich and Maurizio Mediani in the no51 Spirit of Race Ferrari.

LE CASTELLET

The season started in the South of France at the Circuit Paul Ricard and it was a light to flag victory for the no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari and Sergio Pianezzola and Giacomo Piccini. The no8 Ferrari, with Pianezzola at the wheel, made a good start but an incident ahead of the F488 made the Italian take to the run off area in avoidance, allowing the no71 AF Corse Ferrari of Piergiuseppe Perazzini into the lead, with Pianezzola slotting in behind. 

For the next four laps the two Ferraris led the GT3 category but on lap 5 the no71 F488 went off track allowing the no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari to retake the lead. 

Sergio Pianezzola built up a big gap to the second placed no51 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Christoph Ulrich before heading to the pits to hand over to Giacomo Piccini.  Piccini maintained the lead his teammate had built up and brought the car home to claim the maximum 26 championship points.

MONZA

Round 2 took place at the Temple of Speed – Monza. It was all smiles on the top step of the GT3 podium as Sergio Pianezzola and Giacomo Piccini took their second win of the season in the no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari F488 GT3. 

The race began with the no88 Ebimotors Porsche 911 GT3 R of Paolo Venerosi starting from pole position but the Italian was caught and passed by Pianezzola’s Kessel Racing F488 after a hard charge at the start from second place on the GT3 grid.

The GT3 runners all came into the pits to hand over their cars to their teammates and Giacomo Piccini was able to open the gap even further in the no8 Ferrari.

As the clock counted down towards zero Piccini continued to open up a gap and by the chequered flag the no8 Ferrari was over 20 seconds ahead of the rest of the field to claim the second win of the season.

ROAD TO LE MANS

In the first of two 55-minute races at Le Mans Pierguiseppe Perazzini and Marco Cioci scored their first win of the 2018 Michelin Le Mans Cup season in the no71 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GT3.

The first Road to Le Mans race started under cloudy skies but on a dry track. Pierguiseppe Perazzini lead the class away from pole position with the no54 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Louis Soenen in second.  Sergio Pianezzola in the no8 Kessel Racing F488 started to close on the leaders and by lap 3 moved into second place and started to close down the leading AF Corse Ferrari. By lap 5 Pianezzola had passed to take the lead from the no71 car as the pitstops approached.

The no8 Kessel Ferrari, now with Giacomo Piccini at the wheel, was out in front in GT3 well ahead of Marco Cioci in the no71 AF Corse F488. However Piccini’s race was suddenly dealt a blow when the stewards gave the lead car a 30 second stop and go penalty for a slow zone speed violation just before the pitstops. This promoted Cioci into the lead of the race, with Piccini getting back out on track in second place but 46 seconds behind the no71 Ferrari.

The GT3 podium was topped by the no71 AF Corse Ferrari after Marco Cioci took the chequered flag 46.7 seconds ahead of the no8 Kessel Racing F488 of Giacomo Piccini, with the third spot being secured by Andrea Piccini in the no77 Kessel Racing Ferrari, just 0.7 seconds behind his brother’s car.

The second Road to Le Mans race took place on Saturday morning just ahead of the 86th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  The GT3 category was won by the no51 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Christoph Ulrich and Maurizio Mediani after the class leaders collided early in the race.

The no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Sergio Pianezzola was leading the GT3 category from pole position but went wide onto the dirty part of the track at the Michelin Chicane. The lack of grip forced the Italian’s car to flick sideways and hit the no71 AF Corse F488 of Marco Cioci, who was challenging for the lead. 

After the pitstops the no51 Spirit of Race Ferrari emerged in the lead of GT3 thanks to a solid stint by Christoph Ulrich, who handed the car to Maurizio Mediani. Mediani brought the Ferrari home to claim the victory for himself and Christoph Ulrich. The no77 Kessel Racing Ferrari was in second place with Andrea Piccini crossing the line over a minute behind the lead car.

RED BULL RING

The race in Austria started behind the safety car after heavy rain in the hour before the start left a lot of water on the track.  After ten minutes the safety car pulled in and the race went green.  The no35 Krypton Motorsport Mercedes of Marco Zanuttini held the lead from the no51 and no71 Ferraris, while Sergio Pianezzola in the no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari had to come in for a drive through penalty incurred from the Road to Le Mans.

After the pitstops the no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Giacomo Piccini took the lead of the GT3 class ahead of the no71 AF Corse Ferrari of Marco Cioci, with the no35 Krypton Motorsport Mercedes of Stefano Pezzucchi back in third place. The Mercedes was soon on the move using its superior straight line speed to get ahead of Cioci and then Piccini with 18 minutes of the race remaining. However the Mercedes had a problem and Pezzucchi’s car started dropping down the order, promoting Piccini back into the lead.  Piccini drove to the chequered flag to take the third win of 2018 for the no8 Ferrari.

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS

After earlier rain the penultimate race of the 2018 season started on a slippery track.  The no77 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Claudio Schiavoni overtook pole sitter Sergio Pianezzola in the no8 F488, a lead he held until lap 3 when the championship leader regained the top spot in the class.  Schiavoni lost a further place to the no50 Kessel Ferrari of Murod Sultanov before the no77 Ferrari slowed at Turn 1 after a slight contact with an LMP3. 

Five minutes later heavy rain started to fall on the circuit and the drivers who had elected to start the race on slicks were forced to pit for rain tyres.  Sergio Pianezzola pitted in the leading GT3 car to hand over the no8 Ferrari to Giacomo Piccini, giving his highly experienced teammate the job of bringing the car home in the deteriorating weather conditions.

Giacomo Piccini crossed the finish line in the no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari to secure the fourth win of 2018 and take the Team and Driver titles at the same time.  It was a Kessel Racing podium lockout with the no50 Ferrari of Matteo Cressoni finishing in second and Maurizio Mediani taking third to complete a great day for the Swiss team.

PORTIMAO

The season finale in Portugal saw 2018 champions Sergio Pianezzola and Giacomo Piccini storm from pole position to the chequered flag in the no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari F488 to finish their season off in style. 

When racing started the no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Sergio Pianezzola got a good start, leaping into the top 10 overall and seven places ahead of his GT3 rivals. The Safety Car was deployed before the end of the opening lap due to the debris at Turn 1, which the marshals cleared quickly and efficiently so that racing could resume.

After the pitstops Giacomo Piccini was holding a commanding lead in the no8 Ferrari as his rivals scrapped over the minor podium positions further down the field. At the chequered flag Piccini finished 55 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, the no71 AF Corse Ferrari of Marco Cioci.

The 2019 Michelin Le Mans Cup will return in April with the opening race of six round season at Le Castellet.

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