EVENTFUL WEEKEND FOR IRON LYNX YIELDS GT WORLD CHALLENGE PODIUM AND ELMS COMEBACK DRIVE
The Iron Lynx team was out in force at two of the world’s greatest circuits, racing across four championships, with a total of six cars in for one of the busiest weekends the team has ever faced. From Monza to Barcelona, there was non-stop action with the team earning themselves a hard-fought podium and falling just one position short of another.
The first round of the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup was hosted by the high speed Autodromo Nazionale Monza. After the circuit experienced power outages, the third qualifying session was abandoned so the results were calculated from an average of the Q1 and Q2 times. That left the #63 car sixth fastest in the Pro category, while the #19 car ended the session in fourth in the gold category and the #83 Iron Dames car was sixth in the bronze class.
Jordan Pepper – winner of the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series race earlier in the weekend – saw the #63 car through the opening stint, but he unfortunately dropped back to eighth amidst the opening lap chaos. The early part of the stint saw Pepper run as low as 12th but by the time of the first pit stops, he was back up to ninth.
Andrea Caldarelli took over for the second stint and immediately began making headway through the pack, expertly capitalising on the duelling pair of Sandy Mitchell and Timur Boguslavskiy to climb to fifth. Caldarelli spent most of his stint in pursuit of Mitchell before finally claiming fourth position for his own with two minutes to go before the pit window opened.
It was left to Mirko Bortolotti to finish the job and he did just that. Upon leaving the pits he set the fastest lap of the race and gave chase to the leading trio of BMWs. Mirko was elevated to third when the second-place car pitted with a puncture, but the excitement of a potential podium was short-lived, as he came under increasing pressure from the Sainteloc Junior Team Audi with around five minutes left on the clock. The 2017 Blancpain GT Champion had a six-tenth gap at the beginning of the final tour but called upon all of his experience to hang on for a well-earned podium finish.
From the word go the Iron Dames car was in the thick of the action, with Sarah Bovy being shuffled back to eighth early on, then climbing back to sixth before handing over to Rahel Frey. From that point on the #83 car was battling on the fringes of the bronze class’ top 10 for the remainder of the race, and spent much of the final two stints within a second of the CLRT Porsche fighting for seventh. Eventually, Michelle Gatting would bring the car home eighth in class and 22nd overall.
Unfortunately, Rolf Ineichen and the #19 car team couldn’t show their true potential in the race. Having jumped up to third on lap one, Rolf was hit from the rear into the first corner shortly after the restart and through no fault of his own, the team’s race was over.
Like the GT World Challenge, ELMS was also on track for its first event of the season and Iron Lynx lined up 11th on the LM GTE grid at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Claudio Schiavoni kicked off proceedings and made it up to eighth in class after a frenetic start and lengthy subsequent safety car period. By the end of Claudio’s double stint, the bronze-graded driver had clung on to eighth position but upon handing the #60 Porsche 911 RSR-19 car over to Matteo Cressoni, the team dropped back to P9.
Matteo quickly set about gaining time back though, and rose to seventh position in short order. Then he set his sights on the Kessel Racing Ferrari, closing the gap to under a second but struggled to find a way past. Contact for the third-place Proton Competition Porsche elevated Iron Lynx another place and up to sixth as Cressoni’s stint drew to a close.
After the final stops were completed, the Iron Lynx Porsche in the hands of Matteo Cairoli finally emerged ahead of the rival Ferrari. Matteo ran comfortably in the top five for most of the last stint, but would pick up one more position in the final moments of the race to finish fourth, at the expense of the Spirit of Race car.
Iron Lynx’s entry into the GT World Challenge-supporting Fanatec GT2 European Series featured the father-son duo Luciano and Donovan Privitelio. After claiming pole for Race 1 by eight tenths, it was a dream getaway for Donovan Privitelio who managed to steer clear of the first-lap melee. It wasn’t to last however, as he ran wide at Lesmo 1, ultimately resulting in a DNF when the wheel was ripped from the axle of the #8 car on the run down to Curva Alboreto. The second race was sedate by comparison, with the Privitelio pairing starting on the final spot on the grid and crossing the line P10.
The Michelin Le Mans Cup supported the European Le Mans Series at Barcelona and the Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Vincent Abril combination contested the GT3 class. After qualifying fifth on the grid, the #63 car was lucky to avoid a first corner pile-up in the LMP3 field but dropped back to seventh as a result. That was the position they would hold until the chequered flag, finishing just 1.4 seconds behind their nearest rival.
“This has been one of the most intense weeks ever with many different racing series at the same time around Europe. The first Lamborghini podium with car #63 in Monza is a mega start to the GTWC season but also the fourth place in ELMS was an amazing achievement. It’s great to see all of the hard work the team has done since Daytona paying off. The Iron Dames had some exciting battles and fought until the very end as always. It was a pity the #19 car got taken out as they were showing great pace. We had a tough start to the Michelin Le Mans Cup in Barcelona but the team showed great fighting spirit, similarly the Fanatec GT2 European Series drivers showed good pace so there are a lot of positives to take from this weekend.”Iron Lynx Team Principal and CEO, Andrea Piccini