An eventful but sadly painful opening round of the GT4 European Series for many Aston Martin crews

Saturday, April 22, 2023


The opening round of the GT4 European Series from Monza earlier today certainly lived up to the expectation of a highly exciting and eventful race albeit not for the right reasons as far as the fourteen Aston Martin Racing powered teams were concerned.

Trials and tribulations beset both the AGS Events Racing and Mirage Racing teams even before the cars were waved off the grid as the #68 AGS car of Julien Lambert was confirmed as racing solo after Romano Ricci had been injured within the paddock area earlier in the weekend. The #5 Mirage Racing car of Emil Heyerdahl and Ruben Del Sarte had also been given a place grid penalty for blocking during Qualifying, so things weren’t getting off to the new season that smoothly.

Despite the lowered forty-eight car pack (lower than Q1 thanks to two Porsche’s being written off after the #24 JSB Competition Aston dropped oil) got off to a surprisingly controlled and patient start as all cars made it around the opening sequence of corners with only the mildest of bumping and grinding.

Despite his earlier Qualifying pace, the #19 Prosport Racing AMR was soon to be the first bottle neck in the pack as the top five broke free but with ten cars plus all trying to get around the car of Andreas Bachman. That all came to an end a few laps later after a ‘robust’ move from Jamie Day aboard the #6 Mirage car forced his way through at the first corner, allowing others through as well before Bachman could find his natural position within the pack further down.

A brake issue for the #78 McLaren saw it nearly pile into the rear of the #74 Racing Spirit of Leman Aston Martin of Victor Weyrich but their fortune was not to rub off onto others as a resulting FCY for a new stranded #78 car on track caught out both the #27 Newbridge AMR of Alex Denning and the #18 Racing Spirit AMR of Lorenz Stegmann (with a third car involved too) for all cars to receive significant damage, with a debris field that eventually brought of the red flag.

After a half hour or so delay, a two-lap procession behind the Safety Car got the remaining pack back up to speed with Aston Martin’s looking well placed within the three available classes just ahead of a mid-way pit stop window.

Racing space remained tight on track as a number of times, two cars came down the start straight only to be confronted with multiple cars leaving the pit lane exit blend line into the first corner at a much-reduced speed. Further trouble also came during that window as the #74 RSLM car suffered as catastrophic front tyre blow out at speed – sending tyre and carbon debris all across the track as Konstantin Lachenaur was forced to retire the car at the side of the track.

Delaying matters until such time as all had pitted, a second FCY yellow was called to help clear the track leaving still twenty minutes of race time with Roman Carton retaining a top three position after great work from Louis Meric in the opening stint. Re-entering track in P2, it wasn’t long however before the two chasing Audi’s soon mugged the young Frenchman for position, dropping them down to fourth.

The results of the opening round unfortunately saw no Aston Martin crew on the podium with the best result in class coming from the #24 JSB Competition car of Julien and Florian Briche finishing P4 in Pro-Am but with some good points being secured too by the #7 Mirage Racing P6 overall and in Silver as well as the #72 GPA Racing Am classed car of Kevin Jimenez and Florent Grizaud finishing fifth in class.

The surviving grid go again tomorrow morning in race 2 – details have yet to be confirmed as to the state of play with the damage affected #27 Newbridge, #18 Team Spirt Racing and #74 Racing Spirit of Leman cars after their issues on track. All drivers were reported as being otherwise unharmed and that is always the most important thing.

We will see what tomorrow brings.

Photo credits – Teams / GT4 European
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