UNFORTUNATE GTWC SEASON FINALE AT BARCELONA AFTER STRONG QUALIFYING￼
Iron Lynx and Iron Dames returned to the GT World Challenge Europe paddock to contest the final race of the 2023 Endurance Cup season. Competing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the #19 of Leonardo Pulcini, Michele Beretta and Pierre-Louis Chovet, the #63 of Mirko Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper, and the #83 of Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting gave one final push at the Spanish venue.
In qualifying on Sunday morning, a strong performance from Pierre, Michele, and Leonardo rewarded the #19 crew with pole position in the Gold Cup, while competitive runs from Mirko, Andrea, and Jordan also placed the #63 in the fight for top honours, with the trio falling only 0.151 seconds shy of the overall pole position. The #83 Iron Dames entry started inside the top 10 in the Bronze category, courtesy of encouraging pace from Rahel, Sarah and Michelle.
Jordan started the race for the #63 crew, and bolted into the battle for the lead in the opening corners but was unfortunately tipped into a spin in Turn Four. This demoted Jordan to 39th overall, but with a determined performance, the South African rallied to 16th at the close of his stint before handing over to Andrea, who lost time in a chaotic pitlane, to rejoin in 22nd.
He continued to fight forward and clawed his way to 14th with an uninterrupted hour in the car and handed the cockpit to Mirko for the final run to the chequered flag. Unfortunately, an oil spill in Sector Three neutralised the race, with the field running under Full Course Yellow conditions for 30 minutes. In his closing run to the line, in the face of restricted green-flag running, Mirko gained a further two positions to finish 20th overall and 13th in the Pro class.
An encouraging afternoon ended prematurely for the #19. Michele, after holding the lead from the race’s start, picked up a right-rear puncture shortly after the first Safety Car restart and pitted for repairs. He rejoined the race sixth in class and handed over to Pierre at the close of the first hour. Unfortunately, Pierre was forced into an early pitstop with a mechanical issue, and after making a brief return to the circuit, was forced to retire.
The Iron Dames ran a promising afternoon which was unfortunately impacted by a drive-through penalty which was converted to a 30-second time penalty. Sarah drove a competitive first stint to gain four positions and fight forward to sixth in class and next handed over to Rahel, who rejoined and completed a solid stint in ninth. Michelle battled hard in the final hour to take home 10th in the Bronze Cup.
Italian GT Sprint Championship
Elsewhere, the father-son duo of Luciano and Donovan Privitelio joined forces once again in the Italian GT Sprint Championship, driving the #208 Iron Lynx Lamborghini Super Trofeo in the series’ GT Cup class.
In the first of two races at the highly technical Mugello Circuit, the pair started 28th but lost crucial ground in the opening phase when Luciano picked up a right-rear puncture on lap three, which forced the Italian pilot to pit, leaving him one lap down.
Upon rejoining the circuit, Luciano continued to rally in the face of an uphill recovery before handing the cockpit over to Donavan, who took advantage of a late Safety Car restart to battle forward to 22nd. Unfortunately, a post-race penalty demoted the crew to 24th.
With hopes renewed for Sunday, the pair started from 23rd in Race Two, and by keeping clear of a chaotic start, Donavan fought through the field to rise to 19th after the opening laps. By opting to use the overcut strategy when the pit window opened, Donavan ran as high as seventh before boxing 20 minutes from the chequered flag. Luciano joined the race in 11th but struggled for pace and finished 22nd.
Iron Lynx Team Principal and CEO, Andrea Piccini, said: “It was a very difficult season. We showed excellent speed in most races, but unfortunately, we managed to collect very little. Once again here in Barcelona, we had two cars starting at the front thanks to an excellent job from the team who set the cars up well and played a good qualifying strategy, alongside some very good performances from our drivers. In the race both the #63 and #19 cars were taken off in the opening stint through no fault of their own. Our Iron Dames ran a measured race today and did well to finish inside the top 10 in a very competitive and closely matched Bronze class. We know that we are competitive, and the team has grown massively throughout the season. We’ll work hard during the winter and realise the good performances we’ve shown this year so we can come back even more prepared for the next season.”