ITALY (March 15th , 2014) - The first Dunlop 12H ITALY-MUGELLO ended with a dramatic victory by the No. 7 AF Corse Ferrari driven by Felipe Barreiros, Ilya Melnikov, and the father and son duo Aliaksandr Talkanitsa, Junior and Senior. While it may be appropriate for a Ferrari to win in Italy, the Italian based team earned the win through a taut battle with the Stadler Motorsport Porsche that had led for much of the day. The dice at the end was the culmination of a long comeback drive by the Ferrari and the last three hours featured a thrilling duel between the two leaders. The AF Corse team had to consistently lap quicker as well as match the fuel efficiency of the Porsche 997 GT3 R driven by Adrian Amstutz, Mark Ineichen, and Marcel Matter.
Three other cars featured in the fight for the top. The No. 1 Hofor Racing Mercedes led at the end of Step 1 and carried that advantage well into the morning of Step 2. The greater fuel consumption of the big V8 motor put them a tempo behind their Porsche competitors. Then they suffered a puncture early during a lap, requiring a long slow journey back to the pits and much time lost. They finished third. The biggest heartbreak was suffered by the No. 3 Fach Auto Tech Porsche. They were constantly nipping at the heels of both the Stadler and Hofor entries and moved ahead during pit stop exchanges. However, a massive loss of oil caused the car’s retirement.
Another Ferrari featured strongly in the race. Scuderia Praha’s F458 had problems similar to AF Corse during the first three hour segment. They too were able to work back through the field. Thanks in part to young Czech star Dennis Waszek’s fastest lap of the race, the team finished fourth overall.
Another Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG finished fifth. The No. 2 Car Collection entry had a roller coaster of a race—running well at times, interspersed with long bouts in the pits. The best of the 997 class runners was next. The Ruffier Racing team of Gabriel Abergel, Paul Lafargue, and Patrice Lafargue were just able to hold off a late race charge by the similar Porsche of GDL Racing. The class was led for much of the race by the No. 11 Las Moras Team Renault Megane Trophy until its radiator was holed by a stone kicked up while avoiding another car’s action. The SP3 class battle was fought mostly between several GT4 spec Ginettas. The Italian based Nova Racing team pleased their local followers by winning the class with Luis Scarpaccio, Maurizio Copetti, and Luca Magnoni in the winning No. 67 entry. They had a long fight with the No. 63 Speedworks Motorsport Ginetta until the English entry was delayed with a broken driveshaft.
An almost perfect run by the BMW E46 M3 GTR of RTR Projects handed the A5 class victory to drivers Michal Vitek, Tomas Miniberger, and Sirgei Paulavets. The Volkswagen Golf of KPM Racing not only won the D1 class but drivers Tom Onslow-Cole, Javier Morcillo, James Walker, and Paul White managed to bring the little diesel powered car all the way up to 12th overall. Fredrik Lestrup, Franjo Kovac, and Martin Tschornia also had a flawless day and drove the Besaplast Racing Team Mini Cooper S to victory in A2.
The Las Moras and Fach Auto Tech teams were rare in having to retire. While numerous cars had minor problems, there was remarkably little attrition. There was only a short 10-minute Code 60 neutralization required to retrieve a car stranded in a bad location. There was near unanimous praise by teams and drivers for the challenges of the race, the excellent organisation, and the interesting, scenic, and technical circuit. All are looking for more exciting inter-marque battles in the forthcoming 24H SERIES races and the expectation that in 2015 we will see the second Dunlop 12H ITALY-MUGELLO.