- Third Fanatec GT2 European Series season gets underway in Italy
- Henry Hassid and Anthony Beltoise take first race win at Monza for LP Racing Audi
- New team and driver, Jan Krabec and RTR Projects take Am win for KTM
Reigning Fanatec GT2 European Series Am champion Henry Hassid and new teammate Anthony Beltoise got their 2023 Pro-Am campaign off to the best possible start with their first victory of the season at Monza.
The LP Racing Audi pairing pulled off a stellar performance, thanks to Hassid expertly avoiding an opening lap incident and Beltoise retaking the race lead after the pitstops, to deliver victory from sixth on the grid in their first event as a driver duo.
Am class glory went to series newcomers Jan Krabec and RTR Projects, who even led the field on their first GT2 encounter, before finishing an impressive debut second overall.
Thrilling first race opens 2023 season
The Fanatec GT2 European Series field of 2023 did not disappoint in the first 50-minute battle of the season, which played out under sunny skies after heavy rain plagued free practice on Friday.
A lightning start from the pole-sitting Iron Lynx Lamborghini placed Donovan Privitelio firmly in the lead heading into turn one, but a run wide onto the grass from Peter Guelinckx in the #1 Audi soon shook up the order.
As the PK Carsport machine returned to the track, Guelinckx slid into the Manthey Racing Porsche on the exit of the Rettifilio, forcing both cars to retire and the pursuing pack to take avoiding action.
That helped Hassid to charge up the order and pile the pressure on Privitelio before taking the lead approaching Lesmo 1. A resulting run wide for the Lamborghini, however, proved costly for Privitelio – a puncture then causing the wheel to part company with the car and resulting in his retirement.
Krabec immediately took up the mantle in second position and gave chase in the #89 KTM, staying close to the leader throughout the first stint until Hassid opted to pit. The decision to stay out a lap later proved decisive for the KTM and Krabec emerged as race leader once the pitstops were complete. The Czech Am driver then did well to hold on whilst Pro driver Beltoise, now in charge of the #67 car, sized up his options before re-claiming the outright lead on lap 18.
Having taken over from Stephane Ratel, Mattia di Giusto brought the #88 Audi up to third, pushing the #15 True Racing by Reiter Engineering KTM back to fourth, while a faultless race from Leonardo Gorini assured the #911 Ebimotors Porsche fifth overall and second in Am.
Further back, all eyes were on the #18 LP Racing Audi charging through from the rear of the field in the hands of Pierre Kaffer. Managing to work his way up to seventh, Kaffer was determined to pick off one more place, triggering a last-lap wheel-to-wheel battle with Reinhard Koffler for sixth. Aurelijus Rusteika and Mantas Janavicius (#5 Ebimotors Porsche) followed Kofler home in eighth whilst also completing the Am podium.
Giving the new Mercedes-AMG GT2 its international racing debut at Monza, Thomas Jackermaier and Jan Liebhauser delivered a promising performance to finish ninth for the Fanatec by HRT team. Despite being caught up in the opening-lap incident, Klaus Angerhofer (#16 True Racing KTM) did well to hang on to tenth.
There’s still more Fanatec GT2 European Series action to come at Monza, with the second 50-minute race set to take place at 10:35 tomorrow (Sunday), streamed live via GT World on YouTube.