Kessel Racing’s Stephen Earle (#111 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) has become the 2017 Iron Cup champion after the final Main Race in this year’s Blancpain GT Sports Club season was cut short due to heavy rain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Heavens opened in earnest as the Blancpain GT Sports Club drivers involved in this weekend’s Festival de la Velocidad de Barcelona took to the Spanish Grand Prix venue to line up on their grid.
This led to Sunday’s 40-minute contest getting under way behind the Safety Car but when several cars slithered off track in worsening weather conditions, the decision was made to red flag and not resume the race.
As the official race result was issued after one lap, in accordance with the sporting regulations, no points were awarded after the Main Race, and the final points remain those after Saturday’s Qualifying Race.
Having entered the title-deciding event one point ahead of Iron Cup rival Klaus Dieter Frers (#3 Artega Rennsport Ferrari 488 GT3), Stephen Earle thus ends up on top in the Blancpain GT Sports Club’s category reserved for drivers aged 60 and over.
AKKA ASP’s Anthony Pons (#72 Mercedes-AMG GT3) had already wrapped up the overall title at the previous round in Budapest. Both champions will be officially crowned at SRO Motorsports Group’s 2017 prize-giving ceremony, which takes place on Friday 24 November in Paris, France.
Stephen Earle, #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3: “It feels wonderful to be the 2017 Iron Cup champion. When you fight hard all year for a championship goal and you finally achieve this, it’s really indescribable, it’s the icing on the cake. Especially when you consider what happened last year and having the flat tyre and losing the championship by one point.
“I was not too stressed when I saw the rain because I have a lot of experience under these conditions. I am one of the crazy ones that enjoys racing in the rain but it gets to a point when there is just too much water and the track cannot handle it, you’re aquaplaning all over the place and it becomes very unsafe.
“The one thing that you talk to people that have been in racing for a long time is: you can have the best driver, the best car, the best team, the best strategy, but you still have to be lucky and you never have any control over that luck and that’s what makes this sport so addictive and yet so frustrating.”
1. Stephen Earle (#111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) is the 2017 Iron Cup champion
2. The Safety Car leads Blancpain GT Sports Club Overall champion Anthony Pons (#72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3) at the start of Sunday's rain-shortened Main Race.