18 luglio 2016
Spielberg, 18 luglio 2016 - The no. 66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GTE of Rory Butcher, Robert Smith and Andrea Bertolini headed an all-Ferrari GTE class podium at the Spielberg circuit, home of the third round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series.
Dangerous contact. The race started dry but with heavy cloud cover that had all of the teams keeping an eye on the weather radar in case rain decided to head towards the track during the four hour race. A large crowd of nearly 15.000 enjoyed an action packed day of entertainment both on and off the track. The GTE battle was just fierce right from the start with the JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Rory Butcher and the no. 56 AT Racing Ferrari of Alexander Talkinitsa Jr moving ahead of the pole sitting car, the no. 88 Proton Competition Porsche of Gianluca Roda. This battle raged for several laps but then contact between the no. 66 Ferrari and the leading LMP2 car nearly caused an upset.
FCY. The first Full Course Yellow was called on lap 73 when the Villorba Corse Ligier had to be recovered from the gravel at Turn 5. At the same time the AT Racing Ferrari of Alexander Talkinitsa Sr suffered a rear right puncture and had to head to the pits. While the FCY was displayed Robert Smith brought the JMW 458 Italia into the pits to hand over to Andrea Bertolini.
One minute advantage. With 90 minutes left on the clock the pitstops mixed up the order at the front of the field once again. In GTE class thanks to Bertolini the JMW Ferrari held a 60 second advantage over the no. 99 Aston Martin of Alex MacDowall, which was being challenged by the no. 51 AF Corse Ferrari of Rui Aguas. The two cars were running side by side and after a bit of rubbing the Ferrari got the upperhand. MacDowall was demoted a further place when Alessandro Pier Guidi also passed the Aston Martin with 20 minutes of the race remaining.
Final laps. The JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia crew of Robert Smith, Rory Butcher and Andrea Bertolini enjoyed the view from the top step of the podium after finishing a lap ahead of the no. 51 car of Rui Aguas, Marco Cioci and Pierguiseppe Perazzini. The AT Racing of Alexander Talkanitsa Senior and Junior, along with Alessandro Pier Guidi finishing just 1.2 seconds behind the no. 51 car to give Ferrari a 1-2-3 podium lockout in Austria. The overall race was won by Mathias Beche, Pierre Thiriet and Ryo Hirakawa on the Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca-Nissan.
Championship. The Belarus drivers of car no. 56 are now leading the championship on 48 points, just one point ahead of the no. 99 Aston Martin Racing trio of Andrew Howard, Alex MacDowall and Darren Turner. The JMW Motorsport crew is at 43. The next round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series will take place at Le Castellet on Sunday 28 August.