Normal street racing issues at Pau for AMR teams

Monday, May 22, 2017

Round two of the 2017 European GT4 Series Southern Cup took 31 cars to the historical town of Pau in south-western France for the FFSA's annual Grand Prix of Pau double header, with a night and then daytime race taking place for the GT4 series over last weekend.

As full season entries, both the Belgium team Street Art Racing and British team Generation AMR SuperRacing attended with their respective driver line up of Eric Cayrolle with Arno Santamato and Matt George and James Holder.

The #117 Street Art Racing car definitely had the advantage over the Generation Car with Cayrolle firstly originating from the town and then he and co driver Santamato also having raced French national series racing at the circuit before whereas for the #44 Generation AMR car - it would be there first racing experience of the circuit!

As expected the #117 car was the faster of the two AMR's and during Q1 Cayrolle entered the sixth quickest time of the day whilst the #44 with James Holder behind the wheel was still  coming up to speed in P29. During Q2 and with the drivers changed the gap between then was cut with the #117 still having the edge in P14 but with Matt George just a bit further back in P16.

Race 1 would make all the drivers earn their keep with a twilight start finishing in complete darkness around only a partially lit circuit but time was soon lost to a confused, false start and then a quick Safety car in the opening laps.

Cayrolle would consolidate their higher starting position whilst Holder would initially gain places as the pit window opened near the half hour mark. With Santamato now in the #117 the car did see out the pit stop cycle in first but a pit stop time transgression quickly damped any ideas of success for them.

Indeed, similar misfortunate was to befall the #44 with George have to make a second pit stop due to a high oil temperature indication.

That lead to disappointing finish for both cars with Santamato finishing P14 with the #44 the last of the runners down in P23.

More was hoped for from Sunday's lunchtime start for race 2 but more drama was to impact on the race of many cars right from the start. The first incident was at the end of the formation lap and before half of the grid had even crossed the line when a Ginetta made substantial contact with a McLaren only just behind the AMR's calling for the race's first Safety Car intervention.

Then, and only on the first racing lap after that (lap 4) did the race take a premature end for the #117 - whilst running wide around one off the hair pins a BMW collided heavily with the AMR's front offside corner damaging the steering and suspension beyond repair.

George had managed to hold station in the #44 by the car entered the pits for its compulsory stop towards the end of the pit window, handing over the car to Holder in P16. After the pit window had closed the race descended into a period of anarchy with multi incidences around the circuit leading to cars in the armco, cars in the tyre walls and pieces of bodywork flying everywhere.

Holder had managed to drive his way through this chaos up to a point where a Porsche Cayman tried to force their way past at the sweeping hairpin at turn 9 spinning the Aston (fortunately) just nose first up the grass bank and into the side of the armco at least allowing him to rejoin and finish albeit in P20.

Despite the result it was still a great spectacle to watch. The series will reconvene Dijon towards the end of June for Round 3 out of 6.

Photo credits - European GT4
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