AMR's newest GT4 team straight on point in GT4 European opener

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Locked down across Europe for more weeks than many would care to recall, this weekend sees the SRO GT World Challenge Europe and GT4 European Series finally get back to business at Imola, Italy with some long awaiting racing in two of the best GT Series about.

Whilst the GT3 teams took on the preliminary track sessions ahead of Sundays three hour race within the freshly named GT World Challenge Europe Series, today saw the GT4 teams both Qualify and race their first race of the season where French team AGS Events Racing team represent the marque the sole Aston Martin Racing participant this year, entering a car into both the Silver and AM classes.

After the rain of Friday, warm sunshine returned to the circuit in time for Qualifying for both races where the #27 Silver Cup car of Theo Nouet claimed P4 and Nicolas Gomer P16 overall for Race 1 on Saturday. That was further backed up in Q2 for Race 2 on Sunday where Valentin Hasse-Clot secured a P2 starting slot for the #27 car and Giles Vannelet claimed the Am Class pole in P7 overall for Sundays hour long race.

Racing this weekend without spectators, Race 1 got off to something of a faltering start as, despite Nouet initially taking P3 on track, some of Thursday night's storm affected advertising hoardings came lose over the circuit and had to be removed for safety via the use of a red flag.

Losing seventeen minutes waiting on the grid, the race did eventually restart with 57 minutes of racing remaining on the clock although the #27 car did have to relinquish its position back to the Toyota on count back with the red flag to restart from P4. The sister #89 car restarted in P10 overall.

What came next was some racing that the GT4 European Series has become renowned for as the Aston battled hard with the chasing Mercedes AMG GT4 with some real 'elbows out' manoeuvres from both cars that first saw the Mercedes ahead before the Aston powered back past up the hill out of of Tosa to reclaim P4. A further attack from the Mercedes into the final corner would see him incur suspension damage that would ultimately put them out of the race and fortunately gave time for Nouet to put in a quick lap ahead of their compulsory stop.

With fellow Frenchman Hasse-Clot now in the car, their stop would see them effectively  'overtake' the Toyota that was ahead on track from within pit lane, coming out just behind the second placed BMW that had been a 'country mile' ahead before the stops. Pushing hard behind the BMW and now with the Toyota again behind, Hasse-Clot went wide into the final corner and across the gravel trap before fortunately safely returning to the track but with significant time lost to those ahead.

Ordinarily, all would have been lost but for the continuous battling between the BMW and Toyota ahead that slowed them both down enough for Hasse-Clot to reel in before the best two racing laps of his racing life that saw him pass the BMW for the final podium position.

Appearing to have accepted P3 as his best possible outcome as the race entered its final minutes and starting what would be the last lap of the race, the Toyota ahead suddenly slowed showing the signs of fuel pick-up/fuel level issues allowing the #27 car an easy pass to claim P2 in both class and the race overall in only their second event out together with the team and co-driver (having tested with the team three weeks ago).

At the conclusion Nouet/Hasse-Clot finished P2 overall and in Silver Cup with the sister #89 Gomer/Vannelet car finishing slightly down on where they had been at the midpoint of the race P11 overall and P2 in Am meaning for a double team podium in only their first race with their new Aston Martin fleet.

The GT4's race is tomorrow ahead of the GT3's first three hour race of the year within which the #159 Garage 50 Silver Cup car of Andrew Watson and Valentin Hasse-Clot will start P17 overall and P2 in class with the #188 Pro-Am car of Alex West, Chris Goodwin and Jonny Adam starting P37 overall and P5 in class.

Two races definitely not to be missed!!

Photo credits - GTWCE / GT4 European 

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