Image credit: Jeff Carter / ELMS.
Turkey’s Salih Yoluc and Britain’s Euan Hankey names will be recorded as the first drivers to win in the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup with a dominant victory at Imola.
Yoluc, starting from 3rd on the grid, took the lead in the first corner when the nr88 Mentos Racing Porsche of Egidion Perfetti collided with the pole position holder Luigi Lucchini in the no7 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 458, spinning both cars off the track and allowing the Turk to take the lead in the no34 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage.
The no7 Ferrari rejoined after a trip to the pits and eventually Matteo Cressoni finished in 6th place. The no88 Porsche also recovered to the pits but Parfetti was given a drive through penalty for causing the accident but the Norwegian’s race finished a couple of laps later when pulled into the pits and into the paddock to retire.
Yoluc pulled away from the chasing pack, led by Japan’s Hiroshi Hamaguchi in the no55 FFF Racing Team by ACM McLaren 650S, before handing over to Hankey who drove the car to the chequered flag 16.7 seconds ahead of fellow British driver Adrian Quaiffe-Hobbs in the McLaren.
The no26 Classic and Modern Racing Ferrari F458 Italia GT3 finished on the podium after Matthieu Vaxiviere, who took over the car from fellow French driver Nicolas Misslin, finished 3.6s ahead of the charging Francesco Castellacci in the no51 AF Corse Ferrari 488, the Italian setting the fastest lap of the race while trying to close down a 25 second gap when he took over the driving duties from Thomas Flohr.
The no19 Tockwith Motorsports Audi R8 LMS finished in 5th overall one lap behind the winners. British Karting Champion Phillip Hanson started in his first ever car race and was involved in one of the battles of the race with the no51 Ferrari 488 of Thomas Flohr and the no8 Scuderia Villorba Corse F458 of Cedric Mezard. The trio circulated for most of the first half of the race nose to tail before the mandatory pitstops. Nigel Moore took over the Tockwith Audi and then passed the no71 AF Corse Ferrari of Felipe Barreiros for 5th place.
The no25 FF Corse F488 was started by Scotland’s Ivor Dunbar, who had a couple of off track excursions before handing the car over to former ELMS LMGTE Champion Johnny Mowlem who brought the car home in 9th place.
The podium belonged to the TF Sport pair of drivers, with Euan Hankey and Salih Yoluc celebrating in traditional style knowing their names will be the first on the roll of honour for the GT3 Le Mans Cup.