AN EXTRAORDINARY SECOND PLACE FOR I.S.R. RACING AT THE BLANCPAIN GT SERIES SPRINT CUP IN ZOLDER

04.06.2017 - A very exciting weekend ended with the second place in the Main Race for I.S.R. racing, that displayed a great shape in Zolder's third round of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup.

The great competitiveness of the Czech outfit shown, but not materialized, in the previous rounds, has been evident since the early days of the weekend on the narrow and twisty Belgian track and the two Audi R8 LMS driven by Filip Salaquarda (CZ) and Clemens Schmid (AUT), Kevin Ceccon (ITA) and Frank Stippler (GER) have been shining since the first free practice session in which they posted the fourth and fifth quickest time.

An immediate good feeling with the car for both pairings allowed I.S.R. racing to fight in the pole position shootouts with two cars. In Q3, Stippler posted an extraordinary 1'29.297s on the n.74 car, that was the fourth quickest two tenths off the pole position time, while Salaquarda qualified the n.75 in sixth row (P12) with a great 1'29.499s, that was about four tenths off the pace.

The Qualifying Race was held on Saturday afternoon. The race of Ceccon and Stippler has been steep since the beginning. A drive through handed for not respecting to the millimeter the starting position, but mostly an arguably unfair 90s penalty for the supposed involvement in an incident at the start that affected both cars, relegated the n.75 car far from the fight for the positions that count. Unfortunately, this was yet another questionable decision taken from race direction. Stippler started a furious comeback though, that continued when Ceccon took the steering wheel over. The twisty nature of this track did not make overtakings easy and the Italian therefore crossed the line in twenty-fourth position.

The race of the Audi R8 LMS n.75 has been more positive instead. Salaquarda put in a wise getaway recovering several positions and slided in the leading group after the safety car deployed due to an incident at the start. The Czech driver defended his fifth place and a perfect pit strategy placed Schmid well within the fight for the lead. The Austrian driver managed to recover a position and closed his effort in fourth place, being only four tenths shy of the winner.

The Main Race held on Sunday has been very exciting. Schmid drove the first stint on the n.75 car and an extraordinary getaway placed him in second position. A penalty handed to the n.90 Mercedes promoted Schmid to the lead, that he kept, fending off the attacks moved by Winkelhock (Audi), all the way to the pit stop. Salaquarda rejoined second after the pit stop but a safety car a few minutes to the end of the race voided all the gaps. The closing lap has therefore being decisive and Salaquarda defended his position from the attacks moved by Frijns (Audi), closing with a deserved second place.

The race of the Audi R8 LMS n.74 has been more complex instead. Ceccon was at the wheel at the start and managed to stay away from the mid-pack troubles, recovering several positions until the pit stop. Stippler continued the race with the goal of recovering as many positions as possible, but a tap from Keilwitz (Ferrari), that was later on sanctioned, ended his race early.

Igor Salaquarda (I.S.R. racing, Team Principal):

"We are really satisfied by the result of this weekend. Being back on the podium is great. Filip and Clemens did an amazing job and we lived intense moments watching the Main Race from the pits. We are sorry for not rounding off this result with Frank and Kevin. Problems are frequent on such a narrow and difficult track, and good luck is always necessary - which is something they lacked this time around. After qualifying they had very strong chances to fight among the front runners, but I am certain they will come back stronger. We have a very competitive car and there will be other chances to show our potential".

I.S.R. racing will be back on track for Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup next 25-27 August at the Hungaroring circuit.