Heartache and a podium for the Aston Martin contingent at FFSA GT4 opener

Sunday, April 09, 2023


After a final Free Practice and two Qualifying sessions around the Circuit Paul Armagnac de Nogaro yesterday, the first round of the French FFSA GT4 Series finally got underway with its first of two, hour long races around the circuit in the south-west of the country.

Eight Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 crews had all qualified throughout the three classes available to them with the #92 Racing Spirit of Lemans car of Victor Weyrich (starting) and Mateo Villagomez starting highest in sixth overall and second within their own silver class.

There were then several places before the next with the #5 Mirage Racing car of Ruben Del Sarte (shared with David Kullmann) in P16 overall and P9 in silver and the #39 GPA Racing car of Tom Verdier and Baudouin Detout just behind, placed P8 within their Pro-Am class. The highest Am class runner was the #74 Racing Spirit of Lemans car of Ronald Basso and Clement Dub P19 overall and P2 in class with the remaining cars spread between P22 and P30 overall.

Starting under mostly clear skies and bright, warm Easter sunshine the race got off to a surprisingly orderly start considering the twisty nature of the circuit, this being the first race of the year and the thirty-six car, multi-class grid.

It would however be an early bath for Christophe Carriere after he rolled his #98 AGS Events Aston Martin on only the second lap. Fortunately, the car land the right way around and a clearly frustrated driver was able to extricate himself from his car unaided. What condition the car remains in is yet to be seen tomorrow. The #39 GPA Racing Aston of Tom Verdier also went missing from the timing screen at the same time of the #89 car so we can only assume that there was contact between them.

After that, the race did settle into its customary nose to tail train as the top dozen or so cars battled for position until the top three broke away in the minutes leading up to the spit stop window leaving Weyrich in a distant fifth.

Just before the pit stop window opened, an over ambitious move from Romain Carton in his #7 Mirage Racing Aston saw him ride up over the rear wheel of the Mercedes ahead of him and straight into the gravel and tyre wall bring out the Safety Car to boot.

With stops all completed, it became another FFSA style mad dash to the flag before two cars coming together immediately ahead of the #72 GPA Racing Aston of Florent Grizaud and Kevin Jimenez brought out the Safety Car again with just eight minutes of the race remaining.

Sadly, that would be how race 1 finished but despite the three Aston Martins being lost along the way, it was a return to the podium for the #72 GPA Racing for their first Am class podium of the year for Grizaud and Jimenez after finishing second in class. The next best finish was the #5 Mirage car of Del Sarte and Kullmann with a debut P6 in the silver class for Kullmann with a Pro-Am P8 for the AGS Events crew of Hugo Bac and Nicolas Gomar.

The #92 and #74 Racing Spirit of Lemans cars would each finish P9 in their respective silver and Am classes.

The FFSA GT4 goes again tomorrow.

Photo credits - FFSA GT4
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