Having topped every Saturday session in the Blancpain GT Sports Club opener at Monza, Reno Racing’s Jens Reno Moller streaked clear of his opposition to take a commanding victory, the first in any competition for the new Honda NSX GT3 Evo.
In the Titanium Cup class, HP Racing International’s Coach McKansy came out on top despite a late charge by Rinaldi Racing’s Vadim Kogay. Stephen Earle got off to a winning start in the Iron Cup class, beating his nearest rival by over 10 seconds in the #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3.
After qualifying on pole, Møller quickly pulled a gap to AF Corse’s Mario Cordoni on the first lap, building an advantage over the #51 Ferrari 488 GT3 driver over the course of the 30-minute race without putting a wheel wrong.
Cordoni also extended a gap to the battling cars behind, which included McKansy, Kessel Racing’s Murad Sultanov and StileF Squadra Corse’s Pavel Strukov, eventually coming home in second place, his third podium at Monza.
Debutant Strukov occupied third spot for much of the race, but as the laps wore on so to did the Russian’s tyres, and soon McKansy reeled in the #777 Ferrari. Strukov then went wide at the second Lesmo, before spinning at the Parabolica, dropping him outside the top-10.
McKansy and Sultanov then engaged in an epic battle for the final podium spot, with the #23 Ferrari driver taking advantage of the German’s error in the first chicane to slot into third place.
This allowed the #333 Ferrari of Kogay to close the gap, but the Russian couldn’t quite get past his Titanium Cup rival, with the two separated by just 0.767 seconds across the line.
Further back, Earle enjoyed a smooth race, taking advantage of those ahead whilst running a strong pace to finish sixth overall and first of the Iron Cup runners, ahead of Gerard van der Horst.
The #98 Lamborghini Huracan Evo driver spent much of the race around two seconds adrift of the experienced American, holding off Lee Mowle in the #44 Mercedes-AMG GT3 to take seventh and the final step of the Titanium Cup podium.
Mowle made a good start and was battling with Kogay earlier in the race, getting by his Titanium Cup rival before the two outbraked themselves at the chicane. The British GT convert lost a large chunk of time, but recovered to finish eighth.
HB Racing’s Dilantha Malagamuwa was next in the #24 Lamborghini Huracan, finishing just ahead of Iron Cup driver Rick Peter Lovat, who scored an overall top-10 finish on his maiden appearance.
Rounding out the Iron Cup podium was #50 AF Corse driver Louis Philippe Soenen, who finished ahead of Attempto Racing’s Bernd Kleinbach, AF Corse’s Kenji Abe and GDL Racing’s Roberto Rayneri.
Next for the Blancpain GT Sports Club drivers is the second and final race of the Monza weekend, which will be live streamed on the website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Jens Reno Moller, #11 Reno Racing: “The first lap I pulled a small gap to Mario and we have a fantastic race car, so at the end it was just about managing the tyres. The series and drivers are all really great, and I’m hoping we can do the same again tomorrow. The rain might make it a little bit difficult, I’m not sure how we will do but I’m looking forward to it. I’d like to give a big thank you to JAS Motorsport, they’ve supported me for years so it’s nice to give them and Honda this first victory.”
Coach McKansy, #17 HP Racing International: “In the first half of the race I was very happy. I got up to third and was running well, but made a slight mistake and got overtaken. A hard race, but everything was fair and overall it was a good start to the season.”
Stephen Earle, #111 Kessel Racing: “The car was really good. I knew that I could stay on the inside at the first chicane on the opening lap because you always get an advantage. The set-up is very important here, you have to be very smooth to make sure you still have a good pace at the end of the race. Overall I’m very happy with that first race.”
Reno Racing’s Jens Reno Moller made it two from two on his Blancpain GT Sports Club debut at Monza, with a controlled victory in wet conditions on board the #11 Honda NSX GT3 Evo ahead of Kessel Racing’s Murad Sultanov.
ERC Sport’s Lee Mowle also impressed on his maiden appearance, topping the Titanium Cup class whilst collecting an overall podium. In the Iron Cup, Kessel Racing’s Stephen Earle doubled up on yesterday’s victory to score another class win at the Temple of Speed, his third in four attempts.
The 30-minute race started under the safety car, with the heavy rain making for poor visibility at the Italian venue. Once the lights went out, Møller was able to pull a gap over AF Corse’s Mario Cordoni, who soon came under pressure from the fast starting #44 Mercedes AMG GT3 of Mowle.
Going from fifth on the grid, the British driver dispatched of both HP Racing International’s Coach McKansy and StileF Squadra Corse’s Pavel Strukov, before pouncing up the inside of Cordoni’s #51 Ferrari 488 GT3 on the entry to the first Lesmo to take second.
Then came a titanic battle for third, with Ferrari trio Cordoni, Strukov and Sultanov separated by less than a second over the next few laps. The Russian pair slipped by the Italian, but Strukov was caught out by the conditions in the first chicane, spinning his #777 Ferrari and allowing both back through.
As the race entered the final 10 minutes, Sultanov now had free air ahead of him and set a series of fastest laps to close the gap to Mowle in second. The #23 Ferrari 488 GT3 driver hounded Mowle’s Mercedes, who defended valiantly, but eventually had to concede the position at the Ascari chicane on the penultimate lap.
Sultanov sought about closing the gap to Møller on the final tour, but the Dane had enough in hand to take his second victory of the weekend, with the Kessel Racing driver coming home 3.636 seconds back.
Mowle completed the overall podium in third, scoring his first Titanium Cup victory ahead of the #17 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Coach McKansy. The German initially dropped back to sixth, but completed an error-free race to finish fourth on the road and second in class.
Behind him was Cordoni, who lost control of his Ferrari at the Parabolica with five minutes left on the clock but minimised the lost time to finish fifth, collecting valuable points for the overall championship. Strukov recovered to sixth on his maiden Blancpain GT Sports Club appearance, showing promising underlying pace throughout the weekend.
Rinaldi Racing’s Vadim Kogay resisted pressure from Earle behind to take seventh on board the #33 Ferrari 488 GT3, whilst also scoring his second Titanium Cup podium. Iron Cup winner Earle was eighth adding more overall points to his sixth-place finish from race one.
Also taking part in his maiden Blancpain GT Sports Club round was Gerard van der Horst, who enjoyed another strong performance on board the 2019-spec Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo to finish ninth overall and fourth in the Titanium Cup class.
Rounding out the top-10 was Kessel Racing’s Rick Peter Lovat, who enjoyed a solid debut weekend in the #12 Ferrari 488 GT3 and leaves Monza second in the Iron Cup standings. Attempto Racing’s Bernd Kleinbach completed the Iron Cup podium finishing 11th overall, ahead of Louis Philippe Soenen and Kenji Abe, with HB Racing’s Dilantha Malagamuwa splitting the AF Corse team-mates.
That concludes the opening 2019 Blancpain GT Sports Club round, which will head to Paul Ricard (1-2 June) next, once again in support of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
Jens Reno Møller, #11 Reno Racing, Overall winner: “It was my first time in the wet in the Honda, so I was a little bit nervous about how the car would drive, but it’s fantastic in these conditions as well. I had a big advantage starting on pole as I didn’t have any spray, which meant I could pull away at the beginning. It was difficult to keep the temperature in the tyres, and I had to push at the end because Murad was very quick. A fantastic start of the season and I’m looking forward to the next one at Paul Ricard.”
Lee Mowle, #44 ERC Sport, Titanium Cup winner: “Much better than race one. We had a problem with the tyres yesterday, and the Mercedes is very strong in the wet. Saying that, because the car is usually so good on the tyres it meant we struggled to get temperature in them today. It was my first time here, so in the wet it was difficult to find the right line, but overall it’s good to be on the podium.”
Stephen Earle, #111 Kessel Racing, Iron Cup winner: “It was a smart decision to start behind the safety car as the vision was bad and there were spots where you could aquaplane. I felt quicker than the car ahead, but once you get close it’s a complete whiteout and you can’t see anything, so I was missing braking points. The car felt good and it was a fun race. I’d rather be in the dry, but I can’t complain about two Iron Cup pole positions and victories.”