After an extensive schedule of testing to prepare for the opening round of Blancpain’s GT Series Endurance Cup, Barwell Motorsport demonstrated their resilience as drama descended in the opening minutes of last weekend’s 3 Hours of Monza race. An incident at the race start involving more than a quarter of Sunday’s start grid included both Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 cars; #77 driven by Adrian Amstutz and returning Barwell driver Leo Machitski in #78. Unfortunately the Machitski/Miguel Ramos/Richard Abra car was too badly damaged to continue, but after a miraculous repair job by the Barwell mechanics the Amstutz/Martin Kodric/Patrick Kujala Huracan went on to finish P9 in the Pro-Am class, 22nd overall.
The first round of Blancpain’s GT Series Endurance Cup 2017 calendar got off to a chaotic start; a red flag was brought out within minutes of the race start, after an incident claimed 16 cars on the lead up to turn one of Italy’s Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, with only 37 of the 50 initial starters making the restart. Whilst both Barwell Motorsport cars received extensive damage, the extent of the mechanical damage to Machitski’s #78 Huracan meant it was deemed irreparable and withdrawn from Sunday’s race. However #77, which represented more easily repairable damage, was rebuilt in record time by Barwell’s expert mechanics. A combination of excellent spares availability, quick thinking, professionalism, and teamwork demonstrated by each of the Barwell crew saw a steering arm replacement, and extensive front end repair completed in around ten minutes – allowing Amstutz to join the back of the pack for the race restart with just seconds to spare.
After the restart, Swiss Amstutz got tangled up with the #777 Team HB Lamborghini in his opening laps, sending them both into a spin and costing Adrian over 30 seconds. Now finding himself 12th in class, Amstutz drove flawlessly for the remainder of his stint, closing the gap between the #77 Lambo and the #961 AF Corse Ferrari - which went on to win the Am Cup class, from more than 30 seconds to 4 seconds before pitting and handing over to 19-year old Lamborghini junior driver Martin Kodric.
Kodric demonstrated his remarkable talent and appreciation of Lamborghini’s Huracan GT3 as he continued to fight through the field, taking the battered Lambo from 11th up to 5th during his one hour stint. Finally, it was the turn of Patrick Kujala, who within minutes of taking the wheel had set a quicker lap time than many of the race leaders. Unfortunately a puncture in the last 20 minutes of the race, caused by debris on track, put an end to any hopes of a podium for car #77, as it dropped back to P10. However, a last minute drive-through penalty for #911 in the final minutes boosted the Finn back up to P9 where he took the chequered flag for Barwell Motorsport in Monza.
The team and drivers now look forward to the second of the five-strong Blancpain GT Series Endurance schedule, which returns to Silverstone, UK on May 13-14.