- Dramatic first race unfolds at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in penultimate series round
- Ludovic Badey and Jean Luc Beaubelique claim race one honours on Pro-Am debut for Mercedes-AMG
- Beaubelique becomes first driver to take Pro-Am wins in SRO GT2, GT3 and GT4 classes
- True Racing’s Klaus Angerhofer and Sehdi Sarmini come out on top of Am battle
- Klaus Angerhofer moves to top of Am standings
Akkodis ASP Team’s new Pro-Am partnership of Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Ludovic Badey came out on top of a dramatic first Fanatec GT2 European Series race of the weekend in Spain, completely shaking up the podium order and points-paying positions in the penultimate round of the season.
The Mercedes-AMG GT2 duo managed to steer clear of the oil dropped around the circuit by the #5 Ebimotors Porsche - which resulted in a red flag stoppage just 10 minutes into the 50-minute encounter – going on to keep their cool in the hot and humid conditions to claim an historic victory on their first race as a Pro-Am pairing.
Class leaders heading into round five, Henry Hassid and Anthony Beltoise delivered a faultless performance to take second and extend their advantage to 12 points. Title rivals True Racing’s Nicolas Saelens and Stefan Rosina, and PK Carsport’s Peter Guelinckx and Stienes Longin, however, fell foul of the treacherously slippery conditions and had to fight back to finish fourth and fifth respectively.
With the Am pole sitter Mantas Janavicius forced to retire the Ebimotors Porsche, Klaus Angerhofer and Sehdi Sarmini seized the opportunity to take the #16 KTM’s third win this term, in turn promoting Angerhofer to the top of the Am standings.
Mercedes-AMG & KTM take first advantage in Spain
The start for the first Fanatec GT2 race of the weekend was relatively calm compared to the drama that was to follow. Pole winner Hassid nailed his getaway and held the advantage unchallenged into turn one, but it was all to play for behind him as the PK Carsport Audi, the #87 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG and #15 True Racing KTM jostled for position throughout the opening turns.
The #15 True Racing KTM emerged second at the end of the opening tour, but Beaubelique managed to overhaul Saelens two laps later. Guelinckx, meanwhile, was pushing hard to make up for a run wide into turn one and make his way up to fourth.
Just as the field was starting to settle in, Am class leader Janavicius’ Porsche began to dump fluid around the circuit, in turn triggering a number of cars to spin or take avoiding action. The subsequent red flag stoppage halted proceedings whilst the safety crews cleaned up.
When racing resumed, there was time for just one lap before the pit window opened, triggering a 20-minute sprint to the flag for the Pro drivers.
Being new to the Pro-Am category, the #87 had no success seconds to serve in the compulsory pitstops, leaving the Mercedes-AMG to claim a comfortable lead over Hassid – now aboard the #67 Audi. Although the French driver pushed hard to reduce the six-second deficit and catch his fellow countryman, Ludovic continued to the flag unchallenged.
The sister Akkodis ASP Team entry of Benjamin and Mauro Ricci also enjoyed a relatively calm race, bringing the #87 car home in third and sealing their third podium this term in the process.
With the podium positions all but decided, the order was anything but behind them. Longin was on a mission to recover the #1 Audi up the order after teammate, Guelinckx, was forced to take evasive action to avoid the stream of oil. Despite a brilliant defence from Mattia di Giusto, Longin managed to prize his way past the #88 LP Racing Audi for fifth with 10 minutes remaining.
Longin soon closed to within a few tenths of Rosina in the #15, but the MZR KTM of Reinhard Kofler stood in his way despite running a lap down following a mix-up on the pitstops. The Audi was finally released but with only 90 seconds remaining, the order remained unchanged.
The battle for the Am class honours was just as intense. Janavicius initially led the charge before his retirement, but not without RTR Projects’ Jan Krabec and the sister Porsche of Leonardo Gorini glued to his rear bumper.
Both cars then had to serve extra time in the pitstops by dint of their round four success. That unleashed Sarmini and the #16 True Racing KTM crew into the lead for a clear run to the flag. Krabec, meanwhile, managed to find a way past Gorini on the penultimate tour to take second.
The Fanatec GT2 European Series action continues in Spain tomorrow with race two at 10:00 CEST, streamed live via GT World on YouTube.