On April 13-14, SMP Racing drivers Mikhail Aleshin and Denis Bulatov participated in the first round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at Monza, Italy.Mikhail Aleshin shares the SMP Racing car with the Italian Davide Rigon and the Spaniard Miguel Molina. Denis Bulatov races for the German Rinaldi Racing team together with the Russian Rinat Salikhov and David Perel, the driver from South Africa
The Ferrari 488 GT3 of the SMP Racing team started the three-hour race from the 25th position, Rinaldi Racing - from the 32nd among 46 cars in total. It was raining during the race, however, SMP Racing drivers managed to fight for a win with opponents and move up to higher positions. Despite difficult weather conditions, two teams avoided accidents and drove to the finish line.
At the end of the race, the SMP Racing car finished 23th, the crew of Denis Bulatov - the 25th.
“Unfortunately, the race at Monza ended not in our favor,” Mikhail Aleshin shared. “In general, Ferrari were not as competitive during the rain as at dry track, but nevertheless, due to a good strategy and successful restarts, we were able to make our way up. I started the race and by the end of my stint I moved up from the 25th place to the 13th. Miguel Molina got behind the wheel after me and got to the 7th place. At the pit stop, we decided to take a chance and put slicks on, but almost immediately it began to rain again. Our strategy, unfortunately, did not work out and the race practically ended for us. Miguel had to drive in the pits again for the rain tires. David Rigon took over Miguel and later punctured a tire. So, the results are not the most positive, but I think it’s necessary to always look on the bright side. We had speed in the race and good speed on the dry surface– that’s what matters mostly. The potential of the SMP Racing car is excellent and I’m sure we will achieve better results in the future."
“Today, the qualifying session and the beginning of the race were in difficult conditions - it was raining heavily,” Denis Bulatov commented. “During the qualifying session we drove on the settings for dry conditions and finished 32nd. David Perel started the race. He had a good speed and overtook eight cars, but then we made a mistake at the pit stop and lost 20 seconds. The track dried up, and we decided to switch to slick tires, but then the rain started again, and Rinat Salikhov had to drive his entire stint on this set of tires. We have lost time because of that and were a lap behind the leader. When I got back behind the wheel, I had to overtake lagging cars in order to drive the same lap with the leader and continue the fight with the rivals. I was able to move up and the last three laps I drove at a pace of five of the fastest cars at that time. Unfortunately, we chose the wrong strategy with the tires and did not have a chance to compete for a win. We will take this experience into account and will be much stronger in Silverstone."
The second round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup will take place on May 11-12 at Silverstone in the UK.