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    GT3 Le Mans Cup - Third win in a row for SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3

    26 settembre 2016

    Francorchamps, 25 September 2016 - Aleksey Basov and Victor Shaitar tightened their grip on the inaugural Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup drivers title with their third maximum points event as they took the chequered flag from pole position at Spa-Francorchamps. With just one race of the 2016 season remaining, and a 21 point advantage in the drivers’ championship, the Russian team now can see another title for the taking in Estoril next month.   Difficult start. At the start Basov in the no. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 lost the lead to a charging Hiroshi Hamaguchi in the no. 55 FFF Racing McLaren at the first corner. The Japanese driver held off the Russian for the first lap but on lap 2 the Safety Car was deployed to recover the no. 51 AF Corse Ferrari of Thomas Flohr and the no. 66 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini of Mark Poole after a collision at La Source stranded the two badly damaged cars on the run off area. Racing resumed on lap 6 with Basov getting a good run on Hamaguchi. Once the Ferrari was ahead, the Russian opened up a good gap to the McLaren as the Japanese driver came under pressure from Egidio Perfetti in the no. 88 Mentos Racing Porsche.   De Leener’s comeback. Further back the no. 14 AF Corse Ferrari of Adrien De Leener was making progress up through the field from the back of the grid and was challenging the no. 34 TF Sport Aston Martin of Salih Yoluc for fifth place. The Belgian driver had to wait for several laps before he found a way past his Turkish rival. After the compulsory pitstops at the half way point the Ferrari of Victor Shaytar was leading, from the no. 88 Porsche of Klaus Bachler and the no. 55 McLaren of Adrian Quaife Hobbs. The leading Russian was starting to be caught by the Austrian in the Porsche, who in turn was being caught by the British driver in the McLaren. The race turned into a pursuit race with the Ferrari holding the advantage as the two chasing cars took tenths of a second each lap. With 15 minutes of the race remaining the gap was 1.8 seconds between Shaytar and Bachler, with Quaife-Hobbs just 3 seconds behind the Porsche. However fate decided to play a part as the McLaren had to pit when the rear left tyre delaminated and it had to be replaced. This dropped Quaife-Hobbs back to fifth, promoting Euan Hankey in the TF Sport Aston Martin into third place and relieving the pressure on Klaus Bachler.   Sprint finish. Victor Shaytar continued to circulate in the lead and maintaining the gap to around 1.7 seconds.  However the Russian was delayed by traffic on the last but one lap and this allowed Bachler to close the gap to 0.2 seconds as the two cars crossed the line to begin the final lap. The Austrian closed right up behind the leading Ferrari as they went up the Kemmel Straight and into the braking zone for Les Combes but Shaytar held his line and kept the lead. This was the final chance for Bachler to take the victory and had to be content with second place. At the chequered flag it was the no. 72 Ferrari which crossed the line, just 0.7 seconds ahead of the no. 88 Porsche, with the no. 34 Aston Martin in third 72 seconds further up the road. Maximum points means that Aleksey Basov and Victor Shaitar head to the last race in Estoril with a 21 point lead over Euan Hankey and Salih Yoluc, who are now their only rivals for the 2016 title. TF Sport have a 4 point advantage over SMP Racing in the team title and 12 points ahead of Mentos Racing. Both titles will be decided in the final race of the 2016 season in Portugal on Saturday 22 October.