Action-packed weekend with three championships for Kessel Racing

It was one busy weekend for the Kessel Racing team with eight cars competing in three championships at two race tracks last weekend. In the Ferrari Challenge Europe taking place at Mugello, the team secured one race victory and one podium finish in the four races. The team was also able to achieve its second consecutive podium finish in the Michelin Le Mans Cup with P3 for the #74 Ferrari of Andrew Gilbert and Fran Rueda, whilst the LMGT3 Ferrari #57 had an unfortunate early retirement in the European Le Mans Series at Paul Ricard.

Ferrari Challenge Europe
Kessel Racing also started into the new season of the Ferrari Europe Challenge, which had its inaugural meeting at Mugello this weekend. It was also a premiere for the Swiss team as the new Ferrari 296 GT3 was presented after a year-long successful run with the Ferrari 488.

The weekend was split in two qualifying and two races for the classes Coppa Shell and Coppa Shell AM. In the first Coppa Shell race, Henry Hassid climbed on the podium with P2, whilst Fons Scheltema crossed the finishing line in fourth position and Murat Cuhadaroglu rounded-up the good result with P10. In Coppa Shell AM, Jan S. brought home a fifth place with the sister car with Stephen Earle behind the wheel finishing in eighth place.

The first races for Coppa Shell and Coppa Shell took place on Saturday´s afternoon at Mugello Circuit, with Henry Hassid climbing onto the podium with P2 and Fons Scheltema and Murat Cuhadaroglu finishing in P4 and P10 respectively. In the Coppa Shell AM race, Jan S finished in 5th place with Stephen Earle taking home P8.

After his podium on Saturday, Henry Hassid topped his performance by taking race win in Sunday’s race in Coppa Shell. His team-mates finished the races in 12th position closely followed by Fons Scheltema in P13. Unfortunately, Stephen Earle did not finish Sunday´s race, however Jan S. brought home a solid sixth place.
Well-done to all drivers – great effort! After his podium finish on Saturday, Henry Hassid topped his performance by taking race win on Sunday in Coppa Shell. His team-mates finished the races in 12th position closely followed by Fons Scheltema in P13.

Unfortunately, Stephen Earle did not finish Sunday´s race, however Jan S. brought home a solid sixth place.
Kessel Racing secures second consecutive podium in
Michelin Le Mans Cup

In qualifying on Saturday midday, Frédéric Jousset secured seventh position in the number 12 Ferrari 296 GT3 for this home-race, whilst the sister car with the number 74 and Andrew Gilbert behind the wheel, placed the car in fourth place.

Both drivers got off to a good start and improving by one position at the end of the first lap. On lap 7, a Full-Course-Yellow (FCY) was deployed for one lap and at the re-start, Josset was forced into a spin by the #24 Audi but had a lucky escape and was able to re-join the race in P9.

Meanwhile Gilbert stayed with the third-placed #18 Porsche and kept a steady distance of 0,5-seconds. On lap 20, Jousset passed the #73 Porsche and at the end pitted to hand over the car to his team-mate David Fumanelli. One lap later, Gilbert stopped at the Kessel Racing garage and his team-mate Fran Rueda left the pitlane in 4th place. He soon saw himself in a great battle for third position with the #18 Porsche and the #88 Ferrari close behind him, however he lost P4 on lap 30 after great defending.

Meanwhile, Fumanelli was on a charge through the field. At the start of his stint he had a gap of eleven seconds to the #24 Audi. But he didn´t stop there: on every lap he almost took one second out of the Audi in front of him and was running in sixth place on lap 33. He was then running behind the sister car with a gap of 26.4 seconds and with a clear track ahead of him he drove one fast lap after another. He was in P6 and overtook the slower Porsche on the very last lap to cross the finishing line in fifth position. Rueda meanwhile overtook the #18 Porsche and brought home a good 4th place.

However, many hours after the chequered flag, the race directors gave Agostini in the #88 Ferrari a 45-second-penatly, catapulting the Kessel Racing Ferraris into the position 3 and 4 – Kessel Racings second podium after P2 in Barcelona.

Technical issue stops fantastic drive up to P2 in European Le Mans Series
The second round of the European Le Mans Series started rainy and cold at the Circuit of Paul Ricard. Luckily, the weather changed and when Takeshi Kimura-san took behind the wheel of the #57 Ferrari 296 GT3 for qualifying on Saturday, it was dry and sunny with the Japanese setting the 5th best time. Kimura-san was also the first driver and he got off to a very good start. With cars going off and a lot of tumult, he kept his head down and by lap 10 he was already running in P4. He worked his way further up the field and was running in a promising second position when just one lap before his pitstop, a technical issue with the steering occurred. The team decided to complete the driver change and sent the young French-Canadian Esteban Masson back out on track. However, it was clear the car had to be brought back to the pits. After an intensive investigation the team decided to retire the Ferrari 296 GT3 from the race.

Kessel Racing will be back racing in the Ferrari Challenge Europe on 01st and 02nd June and at the “Road to Le Mans” from 13th until 15th June.
Ronnie Kessel, Team Principal
“What an exciting weekend with many ups and downs. It was a wave of emotions as we secured some podium finishes but suffered the early retirement with the #57 in the European Le Mans Series. Looking at the bigger picture, I think we can be proud of what we have achieved this weekend. We have learned a lot and know the areas that need improving. We will be working on it and come back stronger at the next races, but my thanks goes out to the team and the drivers for their great
efforts this weekend.”

Driver Quote Ferrari 296 GT3 #12 – MLMC
Frédéric JOUSSET (France)
“It was such a shame because it was the second time in the second race that I had an incident like that. We definitely had high hopes to end up on the podium. After this weekend I feel I have closed the gap, but there is definitely more work to do from my side and my pace. In Qualifying I made a big mistake, but in Free Practice I was in P2. I have built the confidence and I think together with David we can aim for a podium next time.”

Driver Quote Ferrari 296 GT3 #74 – MLMC
Fran Rueda (Spain)
“I initially overtook Agostini nicely with the cold tyres in Turn 1 but then I realized the front was not there as we picked up some damage, so it was just about surviving and trying to get lucky with the opportunity in the race. I was watching Agostini, and the Porsche very closely fight and then I was lucky to overtake the Porsche and then I was lucky to survive. It was a difficult weekend but we did get the podium with P3 in the end so we take the points towards the championship and move on.”