I.S.R. racing’s weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale of Monza, in the opener of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup 2017, ended bitterly. A puncture with five laps to go forced the Czech outfit to retire from the second position.
I.S.R. racing, at the start on the n.75 Audi R8 LMS led by the PROs Filip Salaquarda (CZ), Frank Stippler (GER) and Clemens Schmid (AUT) kicked off the weekend on a high, setting the fastest lap of free practice in 1’47.858s. The best lap, posted by Schmid in the first part of the session, was the only one breaking the 1’48.00s wall. I.S.R. racing confirmed to be among the best in pre-qualifying, setting the ninth quickest time in 1’48.898s.
Salaquarda, Stippler and Schmid got on track for qualifying with a strong determination, after the great pace shown and secured the sixth row in twelfth position with a 1’47.962s. Qualifying has been a very tight session that saw thirty-two cars within one second, which is a clear indication of the competitiveness of the championship.
The race has been really exciting. At the start, a contact between the n.7 Bentley Continental GT3 and the n.19 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 ended up in fifteen cars being involved in the crash and forced race direction to red flag the race. Frank Stippler, who started the race behind the wheel of I.S.R. racing’s Audi R8 LMS, managed to get away avoiding the incident and later on sat off from the eighth place of the grid at the re-start after twenty minutes of stop.
The German put in a very effective stint with a remarkable race-pace that allowed him to stay close to the lead. After the pit-stop, Salaquarda took over in the right moment recovering up to P3. Schmid was on driving duties for the closing stint and managed to climb up to P2 fending off the attacks moved by the n.50 Ferrari 488 GT3. Unfortunately, the Austrian driver had to stop at the first chicane with a rear-left puncture most probably due to some debris five minutes before the end of the race. This put the word end to a great race.
Igor Salaquarda (I.S.R. racing, Team Principal):
„It is difficult to find some words after such an unexpected end. We run a splendid race. Franck, Filip and Clemens did a great job, they drove with precision, determination and constance, climbing the classification and were very close to end the first round of the season on the podium. This is racing, unfortunately. There always is an element we cannot control, but I have to thank the whole team because we proved we can be protagonists in this weekend“.
I.S.R. racing will get back on track next 12 – 14 May for the second round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup in Silverstone (GB).