Restov Unfazed In Late Attack, Wins in France With Davies

Evgeny Restov and James James Davies scored the maiden victory for BMS Scuderia Italia at the GT Super Series race at Circuit Paul Ricard.

After starting third and briefly dropping to fourth at the start, the Russian would pass Fabian Rei for second position on the fourth lap of the race and then would take the lead away from pole sitter Matteo Rossi three laps later. Restov would set sail for the remainder of the first stint, the gap between the two getting as big as ten seconds, before Rossi would catch back up on worn tires before the first round of pit stops and retake the lead. They would trade the lead again before Restov would head to the pit lane at the end of lap 22; the second car to pit in the cycle with the LKM Lamborghini pitting a lap earlier. Matteo Rossi would come in to pit his Gulf Aston Martin a lap later.

The undercut would prove vital for BMS Scuderia Italia, as James James Davies would exit in clean air and would never look back during his stint. After the initial pit sequence resolved, the gap was ten seconds to Roland Davidson and would increase by another ten throughout the middle portion of the race. The gap would remain stable until the second round of pit stops where Restov, retaking the helm of the Ferrari from the Brit, would exit in the middle of a pack of independent cars battling for vital points in the independents championship. The strategy mistake would play into the hands of Gulf Racing, as the gap had shrunken down to ten seconds and was slowly starting to shrink with Rossi back behind the wheel to close the race. More cars to be lapped would shrink the gap even more, with Rossi catching the draft on the Mistral Straight with ten minutes remaining resulting in a battle for the win to close the race. While Restov would stretch the gap a bit on the Mistral, Rossi would make it right back up in the third sector including a dive on the Russian at Virage du Pont and going side-by-side on the pit straight with mere minutes remaining. It would be the closest Rossi would get to making the pass as Restov would power back in front and take the victory, and the Points Lead, for himself and James James Davies.

One of the other big gainers in the opening sting of the race would be Gia Van Dycke. The Belgian brought the fight to the Factory cars early would reach as high as second passing Rossi twenty minutes into the race. Rossi would take second back second at the end of the Mistral leaving her to battle with Carson Speedworks driver Joey Alliot for the remainder of the opening stint. That would be as far as their battle would go however as Alliot ran out of fuel on his in-lap leaving her and co-driver Justin Case clear sailing for the rest of the race. The third place result they earned is the highest overall position for a independent car so far this season, doing two positions better than the Darren Older/Valeri Kozar Commonwealth Corvette in Abu Dhabi. The finish also secures them three bonus points for the Independent’s Trophy alongside the ten for winning in class.

Kozar and current co-driver Markus Jacobson would finish second in class and ninth overall, after surviving a race-long squabble for a top ten finishing position. It’d looked to have been secure for Helena Bertinelli and Patrick Feldhoffer who were five seconds up the road in a Euromotor Lister, but a late suspension failure and Jacobson passing Jacob Tucker secured the Commonwealth crew ninth. Melanie Bourne and Tucker would settle for tenth in their Corvette, leaving the Winton Lister, Minarae Ferrari and debuting Lynxe Corvette to battle for the first step off of the independent class podium.

Fourth in class looked to have been set for the girls in the Lynxe Corvette, after a bold drive from Emma Pescatore after starting from stone dead last to sixteenth before it was time to handover the car to Maria Rodriguez. Rodriguez would then hold off Antonio Fazio in the Solvalou Lamborghini for the duration of the middle stint and then get shot to the front of that group of independent cars after a successful undercut by the Lynxe team at the last set of pit stops. Rodriguez would hold station again, then fifth in class before the promotion to fourth with the Euromotor retirement, holding off the likes of Sam Winton and Nathan Scott until with ten minutes remaining the tires on the 20 year old Spaniard’s car hit the cliff she would be picked off one by one by the cars behind. Pescatore and Rodriguez would finish seventh in class, eighth on the road after Harry Wilkinson incurred a 15 second penalty for spinning Jacobson early in the race at the end of the Mistral Straight.

Race Results – After 64 Laps

128MRestov/DaviesScuderia Italia2:01:05.491
321IVan Dycke/CaseBelgio+8.379
514MRei/WongGerald Pereria+17.668
741MTravesen/SparksGerald Pereria+31.450
827Mvan Walwijk/ConstantiniScuderia Italia+32.390
103IBourne/TuckerBoutsen Ginion+1:16.451
16555IA.+V. Reyna-SanchezTom Douglas+1:48.234
1703MLe Fay/FazioSolvalou+1:50.378
1855IDouglas/MelroseTom Douglas+1 Lap*
1930IJenkins/PellerinGlobex Scorpio+1 Lap*
2009IMelvanov/KabirovChris Short+1 Lap
2132IAxelsen/PedersenRMR+1 Lap
2299IEinfeldt/von SchweigerPeople's Republic+1 Lap
2311IMestach/JafferBest In The World+2 Laps
2445IBertinelli/FeldhofferEuromotor+3 Laps*
257MMagnus/GeiszlerFalken TireGearbox
2963MAlliot/MalenfantCarsonOut of Fuel
302IKikkawa/GauthierBoutsen GinionBrakes

Fastest Lap – Car 28 (Scuderia Italia Ferrari – Restov/Davies) – 1:47.558

Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race – Emma Pescatore and Maria Rodriguez: Started last, finished fifteenth with some bold overtakes early and defiant defense late. Didn’t expect this much out of these young girls on debut.

Reject of The Race – Joey Alliot: Ran the car dry when a big result was on the cards, blew a big chance to bounce back from retiring at Silverstone.