- Nicolas Saelens and Stienes Longin take first advantage with race one win
- Henry and Maxime Hassid take first class victory as driver pairing
- Pro-Am title fight goes down to the final race of the season, streamed live from 18:00
PK Carsport’s Nicolas Saelens and Stienes Longin took the first advantage in the fight for the 2022 Fanatec GT2 European Series championship crown at Circuit Paul Ricard this morning.
With the #11 Audi crew securing their fifth win of the season and title rivals, True Racing by Reiter Engineering’s Filip Sladecka and Stefan Rosina finishing third, the Pro-Am championship battle will roll on to the very last race of the season this evening in France.
Meanwhile, in the Am class, Henry Hassid notched up a seventh win this term whilst teamed with son Maxime for the first time aboard the LP Racing Audi.
Audi versus KTM title battle continues
It was drama from the start of the first 50-minute race of the weekend early on Saturday morning. As the lights turned green, it was a four-wide drag race down to turn one between pole-sitter Sladecka, Saelens, Henry Hassid and a hard-charging Klaus Angerhofer from eighth on the grid.
Once the field jostled through the first turn, avoiding a spinning Gilles Vannelet, Saelens emerged out front ahead of Hassid, with Sladecka third until the KTM also had a brief excursion and had to re-join in ninth.
Am champion Hassid wasted no time in taking the outright lead and showing Saelens a clean pair of heels as he built up an impressive lead ahead of the pitstop window.
That left Saelens to fend off the sister PK Carsport car of Peter Guelinckx, on a charge from the third row of the grid. Battling bumper to bumper, the #81 car briefly took the lead until a spin for Guelinckx restored Saelens back to second, just as news came that the #11 car would have to serve an additional five seconds in the pits by dint of a false start.
Just 15-minutes into the 50-minute encounter and Sladecka was already up to fourth and pushing to catch the pair of Audis battling for second ahead of the pitstop window.
With the compulsory pitstops complete, Bert Longin emerged 0.4s ahead of son Stienes. But that inter-team battle was called short thanks to a blistering charge from Anders Fjordbach to bring the Brabham BT63 GT2 Concept into the lead battle.
Stienes Longin managed to find a way past his father, leaving a brilliant battle between Bert and the Brabham for second. Fjordbach finally claimed the upper hand and took off after the leader, whilst Bert was then left to hold off the advances of Stefan Rosina – now in charge of the #15 KTM.
Another ding-dong battle commenced but, with six minutes left of the clock, the True Racing charge slipped through to seal the final place on the podium and more important championship points for the title fight.
Longin continued unchallenged to take fourth ahead of Michael Vergers, who brought the High Class Racing Audi home an impressive fifth having starting from the back of the grid.
Maxime Hassid delivered a solid GT2 debut, with the father-and-son taking the Am class win on home ground, sixth overall, ahead of the Ebimotors Porsche of Gianluca Giorgi and Alessandro Baccani.
Lucca Pirri and Stéphane Ratel recovered from trouble in the pits to finish eighth ahead of the Hubert Trunkenpolz in the #17 KTM and Leonardo Gorini in the LP Racing Porsche.
The Pro-Am title will now be decided in the final race of the season at 18:00. Head to GT World on YouTube to watch all the action live.