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Blancpain Endurance Series: Monza, Hour 3 Race Report

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The second round of pitstops saw many of the Pro-Am cars revert back to their amateur drivers after the pros had taken a long middle stint. The leading Lamborghini’s handover to Mul had passed without incident and the car held a comfortable lead with less than an hour to go.

But the second round of stops wasn’t complete when there was a major incident at the entry to the Parabolica: Ronnie Valori in the #54 Attempto McLaren suddenly swerved sideways under braking, smacked into the Armco in front of a marshal’s post and speared back across the track, collecting the #84 Bentley of Mike Parisy in the process. The safety car came out immediately, with a large amount of debris now littering the Parabolica.

Behind the safety car, the order was Mul in the #19 Lamborghini ahead of Salikhov in the #333 Ferrari and Bonacini in the #11 Kessel Ferrari, having taken over from Michael Lyons. Duncan Cameron remained fourth in the #51 Ferrari shared with Matt Griffin. Laurens Vanthoor was looking well-placed in fifth in the #1 WRT Audi, ahead of Steven Kane in the #7 Bentley and Nico Muller in the #2 Audi. Alex Buncombe and Andy Soucek were eighth and ninth respectively in the #23 Nissan and #8 Bentley, while Audi DTM man Edoardo Mortara had quietly made progress into the top 10 in the #35 Sainteloc Audi.

Dimitris Konstantinou caused a serious headache in the #56 Attempto Porsche by circulating very slowly at full-course yellow pace and not catching up with the cars ahead behind the safety car – so much so that the race director eventually gave permission for the rest of the field to overtake him!

The safety car came in with 30 minutes remaining on the clock and a lot of traffic between Mul and second-place Salikhov. The Russian had a fast and feisty Alessandro Bonacini in the #11 Kessel Ferrari to deal with, however – but traffic was giving the Italian his own issues.

Meanwhile Cameron lost fourth to Vanthoor in the #1 Audi through the first chicane and shortly afterwards Bonacini finally managed to shake off the bunch of lapped cars that had been impeding him and set about capturing second from Salikhov. Traffic continued to interrupt the battle, but Bonacini dropped back a bit on lap 81 and seemed to lose a serious amount of pace with an apparent mechanical problem – this later turned out to be high temperatures.

Elsewhere, Kane spun and rejoined at Roggia after contact with the #111 Am class Ferrari that resulted in a drive-through penalty for the latter, which retained the Am Cup lead nonetheless.
Bonacini’s troubles directly benefitted Vanthoor, who moved up to third overall and second in Pro. The Italian also slipped behind Kane, who brushed off the contact with the #111 to bring the #7 Bentley home fifth overall and third in the Pro Cup.

Stephen Errity
Images: Dan Bathie