Iron Cup ace Perazzini makes Blancpain GT Sports Club history with Spa Qualifying Race win
Piergiuseppe Perazzini claimed a historic Blancpain GT Sports Club win at Spa-Francorchamps, as the AF Corse driver became the first Iron Cup charger to secure an outright victory in Friday’s 25-minute Qualifying Race with the #53 Ferrari 488 GT3.
Overall points leader Anthony Pons (#72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3) scored another valuable haul with second place at the iconic Belgian Grand Prix venue, while an on-form Patrick van Glabeke secured his maiden podium of the season in the #488 AF Corse-run Ferrari 488 GT3.
In the Iron Cup title fight, Artega Rennsport’s Klaus Dieter Frers amassed important points in his duel against Kessel Racing’s Stephen Earle, though the US driver will be happy to salvage a class podium finish after being involved in the first-lap crash that left three cars stranded.
While all 22 Blancpain GT Sports Club runners and riders had gone through the La Source hairpin smoothly, the run down to Eau Rouge would prove pretty chaotic. For her maiden outing in SRO’s Bronze-only drivers series, female racer Angélique Detavernier was tapped into a spin, which sent her #12 Audi R8 LMS in the path of HP Racing’s Daniel Vogt and his #18 Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Team-mate Coach McKansy was also involved in the melee, while Stephen Earle managed to avoid substantial damage despite making a 360˚ spin. Detavernier, Vogt, McKansy all had to retire as a consequence of the tangle, and with much debris on track the Safety Car was promptly sent out.
Once racing resumed, pole sitter Perazzini, who topped all Friday sessions at Spa-Francorchamps, came under pressure from a feisty Van Glabeke, who had jumped Pons at the start. The Italian held off the Belgian’s challenge and was soon able to open a comfortable gap while Van Glabeke now had to watch his mirrors for the charging #72 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Pons eventually went past the #488 Ferrari 488 GT3 with a nice move at the final chicane, with Van Glabeke then having to defend from Autovitesse Garage R.Affolter’s Cédric Leimer. The AF Corse racer would fend off the #963 Lamborghini Huracan until the end to pick up his first top-three finish of the year.
This meant Leimer had to settle for fourth, ahead of Boutsen Ginion’s Karim Ojjeh, who initially slipped down the order aboard the #2 BMW M6 GT3 before recovering to fifth at the flag.
The final point on offer in the Overall category went to Iron Cup title contender Klaus Dieter Frers, who came home sixth in the #3 Artega Rennsport Ferrari 488 GT3. The German driver also finished second in class, thus closing the gap to Stephen Earle in the category reserved for drivers aged 60 and over. Following his early misfortune, the US driver managed to charge back through the field with the #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 to claim another podium finish in class.
Piergiuseppe Perazzini, #53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3: “It was a tough race. The start was not excellent and then we had the Safety Car with the accident in the pack. After the restart, I was able to control the race without any issue. The car was perfect and it drove very well. I am delighted with the win.”
Anthony Pons, #72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I had a great fight with Patrick [van Glabeke] throughout the race. That said, the Ferrari is extremely fast, especially through the first sector. We are very strong in the second one so the gap ebbed and flowed but I stayed put and launched an attack at the final chicane when I could. It was a clean move so I’m quite happy with that. For the Main Race, the target is always the same, keep the car on the black stuff, get to the chequered flag and score valuable points. We’ll see how our tyre degradation is over 40 minutes compared to the Ferrari. But if we can go and grab a win, we won’t pass on the opportunity.”
Patrick van Glabeke, #488 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3: “I had a strong start and managed to move up to second place. But then Piergiuseppe was just much quicker so I raced against Anthony [Pons] and the Mercedes but he went faster through Blanchimont and got me. Stil, I am happy with P3 after a clean race. Tomorrow’s main event is longer and different. The two drivers ahead of me on the grid are very strong but I am eyeing another podium finish.”
Saturday’s Main Race, which awards the most points at the weekend, gets under way at 09:15, Spa-Francorchamps time. Courtesy of his Qualifying Race win, Piergiuseppe Perazzini will start the 40-minute contest from pole position, with Anthony Pons alongside him. Patrick van Glabeke will line up third, with Cédric Leimer fourth on the grid.
Make sure to tune in on our official Blancpain GT Sports Club website, as well as on SRO Motorsports Group’s GT World YouTube channel, to follow the race live with English and French commentary.2017 Blancpain GT Sports Club - Spa-Francorchamps Qualifying Race
1. The Overall Blancpain GT Sports Club podium following Friday's Qualifying Race at Spa-Francorchamps with, from left to right, Anthony Pons (#72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3), Piergiuseppe Perazzini (#53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3), and Patrick van Glabeke (#488 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3).
2. Piergiuseppe Perazzini (#53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3) takes the chequered flag to become the first Iron Cup driver to claim an outright victory in Blancpain GT Sports Club history.
3. The Iron Cup podium following Friday's Qualifying Race at Spa-Francorchamps with, from left to right, Klaus Dieter Frers (#3 Artega Rennsport Ferrari 488 GT3), Piergiuseppe Perazzini (#53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3), and Stephen Earle (#111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3).