It was a dominant performance throughout both parts of the 12H Mugello that saw the #11 Scuderia Praha Ferrari take a three-lap winning margin.
The Ferrari led every lap of the opening three hour part of the race on Saturday and held the lead after the rolling restart on Sunday morning.
The Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini would be the only other leader after excellent speed on Sunday saw them keep in touch before taking the lead for 28 laps in the first hours of Sunday running.
Strong pit work though, plus issues for many of its nearest rivals, allowed the Ferrari to build the three-lap advantage it would hold to the finish.
“This is really amazing because this is our second win in Mugello,” Jiří Písařík said later.
“In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but this was really incredible. Matteo did a great job, he drove 4.5hrs combined, and his pace was absolutely perfect.”
“It’s definitely perfect,” teammate Josef Kral agreed. “It’s like a home track for us, especially for Matteo because he lives just 45 minutes away. And to do this with a Ferrari, we’re going to have to celebrate this properly!”
The pole setting SPS Automotive Performance AMG, by contrast, had no luck at all – Tim Müller was mugged at the start, slipping from 1st on the road to 5th, and thereafter to 7th before heavy contact 38 minutes in all but destroyed the AMG’s front right wheel hub, the Mercedes was already out of contention after just 19 laps.
Imperiale Racing’s #32 Lamborghini was then into the mix and chasing the leader, despite a bit of over-exuberant panel-rubbing with the #88 Car Collection Motorsport Audi on lap two but was unlucky to lose a huge amount of time in the refuelling bay when the first Code 60 caution period was thrown. That left them outside the top 10, and, unfortunately, it was mostly downhill from there. A spin on-track and possible contact with the #101 Red Camel-Jordans.nl CUPRA TCR(#101) meant they lost almost 15 minutes repairing the damaged rear bodywork, dropping them to 23rd at the flag.
Despite suffering intermittent fuel pick-up issues, the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo (#77, Adrian Amstutz / Patrick Kujala / Phil Keen) finished 2nd on its season debut, leading 28 of the 330 completed laps.
The #91 Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R (Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Robert Renauer / Alfred Renauer) rounded out the top three after working its way through the order from 7th at the re-start.
The race had run astonishingly almost incident-free until just minutes before the overnight break when all hell broke loose – multiple incidents delaying and eliminating multiple cars – and allowing the chasing pack top close up class-leading gaps!
Victory in A6-Am, dramatically, went down to the wire between the #10 Hofor-Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Michael Kroll / Roland Eggimann / Kenneth Heyer / Christiaan Frankenhout) and the #34Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (Johannes Dr Kirchhoff / Max Edelhoff / Elmar Grimm / Ingo Vogler). The Audi R8 LMS held the lead heading into the final hour, but ultimately Ingo Vogler could not resist a sensational passing manoeuvre from Christiaan Frankenhout with just 15 minutes of the race left to run.
Finishing 4th and 5th on the road respectively, the result ensured that five different manufacturers, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Audi and Mercedes-AMG, finished inside the top five.
The #85 CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster) finished 6th on the road and completed the A6-Am podium.
Wochenspiegel Team Monschau were very welcome additions on the grid with their pair of Ferrari 488 GT3s after the VLN regulars left that series in a spat over FIA-enforce BoP. Wochenspiegel had looked well placed towards the end of the Saturday running until their charge faltered after a clash with the #301 Vortex V8 of Franck Lefèvre. Unaware that the #22 was trying to pass him on the inside of Biondetti, the Frenchman inadvertently swiped the left rear wheel arch of the #22 Ferrari as it moved past, adding insult to injury by forcing the sister #21 488 – who was also trying to pass – onto the grass, allowing Rik Breukers in the #88 Car Collection Motorsport Audi to sneak through.
A tight, race-long battle for 991-class victory was eventually won by the #912 Porsche Lorient Racing Porsche 991Cup (Philippe Polette / Frederic Lelievre / Pascal Gibon / Jean-Philippe Belloc), the reigning 991 European Champions just pipping Raceunion’s #987 (Alex Autumn / Felipe Fernández Laser / Andreas Gülden) for the win.
The second Porsche Lorient Racing entry (#911, Jean-François Demorge / Gilles Blasco / Lionel Amrouche / Frédéric Ancel) secured the French team a 1-3 finish.
The #224 RTR Projects KTM X-BOW (Sergej Pavlovec / Tomas Miniberger / Karel Bednar / Erik Janis) took SP2-class honours in Mugello, just ahead of a double podium finish for JR Motorsport: the team’s #202 BMW M3 F80 (Ted van Vliet / Ruud Olij) claimed 2nd, while the sister #203 BMW M4 Silhouette (Ward Sluys / Michael Verhagen / Max Weering) finished 3rd.
Reigning 24H TCE SERIES Champions Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport got its title defence off to a fantastic start with victory in GT4 with the #50 BMW M4. (Martin Kroll / Michael Schrey / Michael Fischer / Gustav Engljaehringer / Thomas Jäger).
This is the second win of this year’s 24H SERIES powered by Hankook for the Swiss outfit, which also kicked off its 2019 Championship of the Continents campaign two months ago with a win at the vaunted Hankook 24H DUBAI.
“It was a really tough race because someone was always on our tail,” Jan Sorensen explained to radiolemans.com’s Joe Bradley. “Yesterday we came up to 2nd, but this morning we fell all the way down the order and thought all was totally lost. Fortunately, everyone seemed to have trouble with their tyres. Suddenly we were 4th and then we were 1st! But we had some fast guys chasing us down, so it feels so good to be standing here.”
The #188 AC Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS (Stephane Perrin / Vincent Radermecker / James Kaye) secured 2nd place overall in TCE having led the class early on, falling just 26s short of the #112 Volkswagen at the flag. The Lestrup Racing Team Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR (#110, Mats Olsson / Peter Fahlström / Stefan Nilsson / Emil Sällberg) managed to pip fellow VW runners Holmgaard Motorsport (#102, Magnus Holmgaard / Jonas Holmgaard / Roy Edland / Benny Simonsen) to secure the final step of the TCE podium.
The #109 MONLAU COMPETICION CUPRA TCR (#109, Munkong Sathienthirakul / Anusorn Asiralertsiri / Chariya Nuya / Kantadhee Kusiri) led the opening stages, but a broken driveshaft and a heavy collision on-track eventually eliminated the TCE pole sitter shortly after half-distance.
A heavy accident for the #426 MRS GT-Racing BMW M4 GT4 (Franjo Kovac / Thomas Tekaat / Tomas Pekar), which also featured the Reiter Engineering KTM X-BOW, (a car that had suffered a brief pitlane fire towards the end of the first section of the race) meant 2nd in-class went to the brand new #1 PROSport Performance Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4, the Vantage GT4 making its European race debut in the hands of Rodrigue Gillion / Nico Verdonck / Akhil Rabindra, the car laps down after suffering yet another of the incidents that befell teams in the closing stages of part one of the race, the Aston Martin losing drive in the hands of Akhil Rabindra and pulling off-track while running 2nd, barely 30 minutes before the chequered flag was flown. Further time would be lost as the Aston was recovered to the pitlane, dropping the team nine laps adrift of the lead at that point.
Although it failed to make the finish, the #426 BMW was still classified 3rd.
A fraught race meant victory in SP3 was taken by the #312 Amag First Centri Porsche Ticino Porsche Cayman GT4 CS (Valerio Presezzi / Matteo Arrigosi / Ivan Jacoma / Ivan Reggiani), a remarkable turn of fortune for the team that failed to start at all on its debut in Dubai. Despite stopping on-track, the #310 Munckhof Racing BMW M4 (Eric van den Munckhof / Marco Poland) managed to overhaul the #301 Vortex V8 Vortex Scirocco GC 10 (Philippe Bonnel / Franck Lefèvre / Nicolas Nobs) for 2nd in-class.
Further back, the Dan Agro Racing Peugeot RCZ (#685, Nicolaj Kandborg / René Rasmussen / Steffan Jusjong) secured A3-class victory. The Danish team had enjoyed a lengthy battle for the top spot with the Synchro Motorsport Honda FK8-Civic Type-R (#676, Alyn James / Daniel Wheeler), but an incident with the Car Collection Audi severely hobbled the Honda’s handling. As a result, the 2017 24H TCE SERIES Champions would eventually finish 3rd in-class behind the WEC Motorsport BMW E46 M3 (#639, Dave Cox / Jason Cox / George Haynes / Guy Povey).