Kessel Racing takes victory in Bronze Class at Paul Ricard

After taking victory in the 12h Mugello two weeks ago, Kessel Racing also stormed to take victory in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup this weekend at Paul Ricard. The team made a fantastic comeback after a challenging qualifying session to take race-win in the Bronze class with the #8 Ferrari 296 GT3 on Sunday evening.

Both Kessel Racing Ferrari started the three-hour endurance race at the 5,791-kilometre-long track from the back of the grid and whilst the first hour was interrupted by a total of four Safety-Car periods and two Full-Course-Yellow (FCY), the team made good progress. The #74 Ferrari, driven by John Hartshorne from the start, pitted from P40 on lap 26, whilst the sister-car with the number 8 and Nicolò Rosi behind the wheel came in for the pit-stop one lap later, whilst the race was still under FCY.

Ben Tuck took over the #74 and made-up a staggering 14 seconds to catch the next group of cars. He charged through the field and moved up into P34 overall. Niccolò Schiro was racing in the #8 and had an equally stunning middle-stint of the race, overtaking 16 cars and reaching P22 overall whilst taking the lead in Bronze category.
The two Ferrari 296 GT3 entered the pitlane at the same time on lap 53 and after a great job by the pit-stop crew, David Fumanelli kept the lead in Bronze class in the number 8 car with Matthew Bell re-joining the race in P28 overall and P6 in class. Whilst the #74 could not attack further due to front tyre wear and tear coming home in a great P5 in class, the #8 Ferrari cruised to the end of the race to cross the finishing line in a fantastic 20th place overall and P1 in Bronze class.

Kessel Racing is now heading to Barcelona, where the team will be competiting in the European Le Mans Series and the Michelin Le Mans Cup at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Team Quotes
Ronnie Kessel, Team Principal
“Both teams showed a great performance, after a very challenging qualifying this morning. We managed to have a good race, with a good pace and unfortunately one of the two cars 74 suffered a disadvantage as one of the Porsche didn´t understand the Safety-Car procedure and didn´t catch up with the front cars, which meant we lost about 15 seconds which led us in P2. It has been an overall very good start to the season where we have underlined the performance of our two Ferrari 296 GT3s, and it was also a very good atmosphere between the team and the drivers and we worked very well together throughout the weekend.”

Driver Quotes Ferrari 296 GT3 #08

Nicolò ROSI (Switzerland):
“The start was very hectic, but definitely amazing. There were so many cars around, so I just focused on feeling the gaps, and taking the opportunities that I had. Even though there were so many Safety-Car phases, every time it felt like a new start to the race. I enjoyed my first weekend with Kessel Racing and to finish the weekend with a win is very special and feels amazing.”

Niccolò SCHIRO´ (Italy):
“I don´t want to say it was an unexpected result as I expected our car to be fast, as the team set it up very fast and very well. However, I didn´t expect to be so good overall especially after the difficulties in qualifying. I cannot thank the team and my team-mates enough, as Nico covered up to eight positions in the first stint. In my stint I gave everything I had and David took over to take it to the chequered flag.”

David FUMANELLI (Italy):
“It was a crazy day. Even though we knew we had good potential in qualifying, but with some difficulties we started from the back and I definitely did not expect to finish the race on the top step of the podium after three hours. The entire team and my team-mates did an incredible job, especially Niccolò in the middle-stint overtaking 16 cars and handing me over the car in the lead. So, for me it was just about managing my stint with track conditions becoming quite poor. Unbelievable debut and we could have not asked for more.”

Driver Quotes Ferrari 296 GT3 #74

John HARTSHORNE (Great Britain)
“We kept out of trouble at the start, which is always the most important thing for an endurance race. I missed a good opportunity to catch-up on some other cars after the last Safety-Car period in my stint, but I have learned my lesson and improve on it next time.”

Ben TUCK (Great Britain)
“I really enjoyed that race, I think that was one of the top stints I have ever done. I came out of the pits and I was just fired-up. John kept us on the lead-lap and all I had to do was get us back up into the pack. I managed to overcome 14 seconds to the next car and then I just kept moving forwards. As soon as I reached a car I tried to make the move as quickly as possible, because even with GT3s you do get a bit of dirty air. The car was absolutely perfect, a massive thank you to Kessel Racing.”

Matthew BELL (Great Britain)
“John´s stint was quite interrupted with all the Safety-Cars, Ben did a great job getting us back into the game, marching up the field quite nicely. I went straight back out into a good-old “GT-dogfight”, which was really enjoyable, especially when you moving forward in the fights. The car was great, Kessel Racing gave us the fastest Ferrari this weekend. Unfortunately, some of the fighting cost me the life of my tyres so towards the end I had to manage the front tyres but managed to bring it home in a great P4, which is amazing considering where we started the day.”