A tale of two halves at GT4 European Series at Paul Ricard

Sunday, June 04, 2023


It was a tale of two halves for what started to be eleven Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 powered teams within the second round of the GT4 European Series at the Paul Ricard in southern France over the weekend as success for some in race one turned sour in race 2 and vice versa.

Having opened their 2023 account at Monza five weeks ago, this weekend’s second round was to be an exercise in making amends for their disappointing sets of results from Italy with the Racing Spirit of Leman crew of Victor Weyrich, Konstantin Lachenauer aboard their #74 car and the #7 Mirage Racing crew of Romain Carton and Louis Meric leading the way during Free Practice.

That pace for the #74 crew turned into Pole Position for the #74 car going into Saturday evenings first hour long race but for many within the AMR camp, this was still something new for many as Josh Miller joined the #48 GPA Racing car with Bailey Voisin as a one off (at present) and Andreas and Jessica Bachmann partnered up with the Racing One team for the first time for their new full season series entry in their #19 car.

Tough things happened to some right from the off with race 1 as the #7 Mirage car of Carton ground to a halt on the opening lap before the #19 car of Jessica Bachmann got caught up in some unseen car or car action that would see her pit and retire from the race with damage after two collided Audi’s had brought out the Safety Car on the first lap too. The #19 car would not be seen again on track as a result of irreparable (at the circuit) damage.

Losing a quarter of the race to that clean up, there was impatience from the #74 car to recover the race lead having lost it on the opening lap with Jamie Day and Voisin equally prepared to get physical in the quest for track position ahead of the mandatory pit window. Sadly, heavy contact between the #48 GPA car and the #5 Mirage car saw the former retire with steering damage and the other faulter lose time with its own race affecting damage.

Having stayed out one lap longer than the leading Toyota, the #74 Racing Spirit of Leman car would recover its position at the front to bring home the third different race winner of the season so far (and their first race finish for the #74 crew) with further class accolades going to the #72 GPA Racing Am class drivers of Kevin Jimenez and Florent Grizaud who finished third in class.

Sunday mornings second race’ starting order had also already been determined the day before with the #74 car just missing out on pole again with a P2 starting position but with also decent performances from the #24 JSB Competition Aston Martin to start P1 in Pro-Am and again from the #72 GPA crew to start second in Am.

With a weather front looming in the distance, it was a simple case of racing to the conditions that they were in, and the dry and warm start saw nothing new in that. Again, the powerful Toyota again took charge at the front as three Aston Martins set about the chase from behind with the #74, #24 and the #5 Mirage of Ruben Del Sarte.

This race would see Miller actually start his first GT4 European Series and likewise with the #89 AGS Events Racing crew of Nicolas Gomar and Mike Parisy who also had to sit out after technical issues in Qualifying.

For as long as up to the closing of the pit window, the race ebbed and flowed like any comparable GT4 series would with Rodrique Gillion again showing good pace in his #26 Racing Spirit of Leman car that he shares with Akhil Rabindra. 

Darkening conditions soon took over the circuit as at first, light rain began falling across parts of the circuit before that became slightly heavier. That rain prompted many to pit for wets but the time taken to change was a heavy price to pay with track position so many opted not to.

That decision cost both the Mirage cars their chance at attacking for a podium position whilst the #74 car suffered technical problems on Weyrich’s outlap which kissed goodbye to their efforts. Soon the rain was torrential and whilst those who didn’t swap to wets were teetering around the circuit, the gap to those who did would turn out to be too great to recover from meaning that the silver class Aston Martin’s would fall short by the end.

Whilst they suffered, the #72 GPA Racing crew again stood upon the Am Class podium – second this time but so did the #89 AGS Events crew of Gomar and Parisy who scored their first P2 result of the season.

Next stop Spa at the end of June.

Photo credits – Series
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