Hart/Pastorelli triumph in Aston Martin Masters Endurance Legends thriller in the dunes
David Hart and Nicky Pastorelli ended a thrilling second Aston Martin Masters Endurance Legends race at Zandvoort in front by no more than 0.114 seconds. Pastorelli pipped Philippe Papin to victory by drafting past the ORECA-Nissan 03 shared with Karl Pedraza out of the final corner on the final lap of the race.
The Dutch Maserati MC12 GT1 pair was handed the opportunity when Jack Dex in the BR01 prototype was hit with a massive stop-and-go penalty for an unsafe release during his mandatory pitstop. Before the stops, Saturday's race winner had led Hart and Pedraza by half a minute.
Despite starting from the back and incurring a time penalty for jumping the start, James Hagan fought his way up to third, his ORECA-Nissan 03 moving ahead of Nikolaus Ditting's Aston Martin DBR9 GT1 and the Marco Werner/Oliver Mathai Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3.
Sebastian Gläser (Porsche 993 GT2 Evo) won the battle for GT2 class honours, as the German defeated race 1 class winner Marc Devis (Porsche 996 GT3 RS) by ten seconds.
A steady opening ten minutes saw Dex run off to a 17-second lead over Hart in the GT1 Maserati, setting 1.34 laps in the process. Hart in turn was hounded by Karl Pedraza starting the ORECA-Nissan 03 shared with Philippe Papin, with Marco Werner further down in fourth in the V12-engined Vantage GT3. In fifth, Nikolaus Ditting (running solo this time) had momentarily halted James Hagan's advance from the back of the grid, but the Irishman was then hit by 15-second penalty for jumping the start.
Some 55 seconds down, Devis' 996 GT3 RS was again leading the GT2 race, 12 seconds ahead of Sebastian Gläser's 993 GT2 Evo and 25 seconds in front of Marcus Jewell in the 996 GT3 RSR. David Methley, despite being issued a five-second penalty for a jumped start, split the Porsches in his yellow Corvette C6, as he kept ahead of Günther Schindler's 993 GT2. Sadly, the fifth Porsche, Manfredo Rossi's 997 GT3 RSR, was a non-starter due to brake problems.
The pit window now open, the BR01 prototype led by 26 seconds while the fight for second place was still very much on, Hart still a mere second in front of Pedraza. From ninth, Jewell was the first to come in, handing his Porsche to Ben Clucas, while Gläser and Hagan were next up. On the following lap, Hart followed Dex in for their stops, Hart allowing Nicky Pastorelli to take the wheel. Pedraza, however, waited as long as he could before handing over to Papin while Werner performed similarly in the changeover with Oliver Mathai.
After the stops, Dex was back in the lead, only to be slammed by a massive stop-and-go penalty for unsafe release. This dropped him down to ninth and well out of contention, as Pastorelli set after Papin who now found himself in the lead. A minute down on Papin, James Hagan's ORECA-Nissan 03 had just passed Ditting for third while Gläser had moved ahead of Mathai and, more importantly, Devis to take the GT2 class lead. With five minutes left on the clock, though, Mathai snatched back fifth from his countryman.
At the front, as time was ticking away, Pastorelli was closing on Papin at the rate of five seconds per lap. It would be close – with two minutes to go, the Dutchman was still trailing the Frenchman by eight seconds. The pair chased by Dex on an attempt to improve on fastest lap of the race, Pastorelli made it stick out of the final corner to inch ahead of Papin as they crossed the line. After 40 minutes of racing, 0.114 seconds was all that was between them.
Hagan duly finished third ahead of Ditting in the Aston Martin DBR9, with the Marco Werner/Oliver Mathai Vantage GT3 taking fifth from the GT2-class-winning Porsche of Sebastian Gläser, the German leaving class rival Devis ten seconds in his wake.
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