With just under a fortnight to go until the inaugural Fanatec GT2 European Series concludes at Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet on 1-2 October, the anticipation is building for a nail-biting title decider, and at nowhere more than High Class Racing.
Their #33 Audi R8 LMS GT2 in the hands of experienced campaigners Mark Patterson and Anders Fjordbach has been, at times, the class of the field during a hotly contested inaugural season for SRO’s latest world-leading GT racing concept.
The pair have clocked up four victories, including a clean sweep at Hockenheim, plus a further two podium finishes to lead the Pro-Am standings by 14 points with two races remaining.
Their closest challengers, the #81 PK Carsport by Heinz entry of Peter Guelinckx and Bert Longin, have staged something of a comeback in recent rounds, but regardless of the end result in October, for Fjordbach, the campaign has been a success.
“This season has exceeded all our expectations,” said the Danish racer.
“We were very pleasantly surprised by the organisation, and the quality for the races. It’s a great calendar, with beautiful circuits around Europe in these magnificent race cars.”
Fjordbach and Patterson kicked off the season at Monza with the honour of being the first-ever Pro-Am winners, before going on to register three straight victories across the Hockenheim and Misano events.
“The high points have been our mechanical and driver consistency,” explains Patterson.
“Anders and I have managed to restrict our driver errors to test and practice sessions, not the races, whereas most other teams have had mechanical issues during the races, spins or bad crashes.”
And, although their lead took a dent after losing out in the Misano finale to their chief rivals in the #81 Audi, plus a frustrating trip to Spa-Francorchamps last time out, Patterson insists it’s business as usual in the countdown to Le Castellet.
“The title fight has been great, with plenty of tension for all fans and competitors,” said Patterson.
“Our aim going forward is like every other race; stay calm, stay on the track, pass when you own the corner. It’ll be a nail-biter, for sure!”
Fjordbach agreed, and also paid tribute to their closest challengers, underlining the respect between the two sparring Audi squads.
“The title fight has been awesome, there’s great respect between the #81 and #33 entries, but still some hard racing – just as it should be,” he explained.
As part of the first-ever GT2 grid worldwide, Fjordbach and Patterson have also been among the privileged few to sample these high-power performance models in race trim, and the reviews have been glowingly positive from Pro and Am drivers alike.
“The GT2 Audi has been super cool to race,” enthused Fjordbach.
“It’s massively overpowered, with low grip, so it couldn’t be any cooler! At the same time, it’s very safe, so it caters well to drivers with less experience.”
“GT2s are full of testosterone but the Audi designers forgot that downforce helps too!” laughed Patterson.
“It has been a wonderfully balanced car with excellent braking and reliable traction out of tricky corners in Hockenheim, Misano and Spa. It’s made a huge difference, especially for Am drivers.”
And their predictions for the series’ future were equally positive, with momentum already starting to build for the series’ 2022 campaign, including the homologation of a fifth manufacturer in Brabham Automotive with the BT63 GT2 concept.
“I’ve got a lot of trust in Stephane Ratel’s vision, but after joining the series and participating, I’m now one-hundred percent sure this will be the next big thing in Europe,” stated Fjordbach.
Patterson added: “No doubt Stephane’s creative skills will put this series on the map in a big way.”
To view highlights from each event in the 2021 Fanatec GT2 European Series to-date, click here to visit the GTWorld YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/gtworld