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FFSA GT French Championship – Nogaro

31st March - 2nd April 2018

Event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello

It is within the framework of the traditional Coupes de Pâques of Nogaro that began the season 2018 of the French Championship FFSA GT, reserved to the GT4.

For this initial round 39 competitors were on the entry list.

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Free practices 1

This first free practice session was held on a wet track.

The fastest time was achieved by de Soheil Ayari / Nicolas Tardif (CMR #26 - Ginetta G55 GT4) in 1.32.502 with a gap of 0.161s ahead of Grégory Guilvert / Fabien Michal (Saintéloc Racing #42 - Audi R8 LMS).

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Anthony Beltoise / Olivier Estèves (Saintéloc Racing #21 - Audi R8 LMS) complete the top 3.

Nicolas Gomar / Julien Lambert dominated the AM class (AGS Events #25 - Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR) with a time of 1:33.668.

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Free practices 2

Sylvain Noel / Jimmy Antunes (Racing Technology #11 - Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR) have climbed to the top of the timesheet following by Douglas Lundberg / Pierre Courroye (Speed Car #7 - Ginetta G55 GT4) and Rodolphe Wallgren, who participates alone (Speed Car #4 - Ginetta G55 GT4) best time in AM in 1:41.041.

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Jérémy Reymond / Wilfried Cazalbon (CMR #666 - Ginetta G55) took second place in the AM class.

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Qualifying rounds.

Qualifying Practice driver 1

This Sunday, the sun was shining as the GT4 lined up for the first qualifying session.

Quickly stopped at the red flag, after Olivier Gomez's (GP 34 by Gemo Motorsport #34 - Maserati GrandTurismo) off-road excursion.

Fabien Michal, with a lap in 1'32''556, conquered the first pole position of the season. Robert Consani (Speed Car #8 - Ginetta G55 GT4) joins him on the front row.

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The second line was entirely Ginetta Speed Car Rodolphe Wallgren (Speed Car #4 - Ginetta G55 GT4), first of the AM class, and Douglas Lundberg (Speed Car #7 - Ginetta G55 GT4).

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Christophe Hamon (Saintéloc Racing #5 - Audi R8 LMS GT4) and Olivier Pernaut (Orhes Racing #48 - Audi R8 LMS GT4) follow.

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Olivier Jouffter (VIC’Team #64 - Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR) put the first Porsche in 7th position, Laurent Hurgon (BMW Team France #3 – BMW M4) took twelfth place with the fastest BMW, Mercedes camp settling for twentieth position with Jean-Luc Beaubelique (AKKA-ASP Team #87 - Mercedes-AMG GT4).

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Olivier Gomez and Guner Turkmen (Greensall Motorsport #369 – KTM X-BOW) are satisfied with respectively the 36 and 37th time of this Q1.

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Qualifying Practice driver 2

Soheil Ayari (CMR #26 - Ginetta G55 GT4) left his mark on Q2 showed a superb qualifying performance to grab the pole position for Race 2 with a lap time of 1.31.742.

Next to him, Jim Pla (AKKA-ASP Team #87 - Mercedes-AMG GT4).

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Then came Anthony Beltoise (Saintéloc Racing #21 - Audi R8 LMS) and Pierre-Alexandre Jean (CMR #36 - Ginetta G55 GT4).

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The pole in AM went once again to Rodolphe Wallgren (Speed Car #4 - Ginetta G55 GT4).

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Steven Palette (IMSA Performance #27 - Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR) ranked the first Porsche at the twelfth place.

Van der Ende Ricardo (L'Espace Bienvenue # 17 – BMW M4) occupied the sixteenth place in the hierarchy of Q2.

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Race 1

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For lack of respecting the official timing, eight cars must start from the pit lane, at the rear of the pack.

Fabien Michal, the poleman, retains the advantage over Robert Consani, Rodolphe Wallgren and Christophe Hamon.

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After 8 minutes, Robert Consani finally found the opening and he immediately took a few steps over the rest of the pack.

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Fabien Michal finds himself under pressure from Rodolphe Wallgren, but the latter is hit by Christophe Hamon and the two cars must return to the pits to give up!

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In the 13th minute, the race is neutralized under ‘Full Course Yellow’ and then behind the safety car. Meanwhile, the marshals could help Benjamin Ricci (AKKA-ASP Team #88 - Mercedes AMG GT4) to continue the race after an off-road excursion.

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As soon as the window for driver changes was opened, Fabien Michal rushed into the pit lane to pass the wheel to Grégory Guilvert.

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Author of an excellent relay and leader of the Am ranking, Olivier Pernaut remains on track until the end of the window, occupying the head for four laps.

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When Olivier Pernaut handed over to Philippe Marie, Benjamin Lariche (Speed Car #8 - Ginetta G55 GT4) took the lead.

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After, Jean-Luc Beaubelique had made a huge progress and a flash driver change, Jim Pla was in second place ahead of Eric Trémoulet (VIC’Team #64 - Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR).

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The top trio remained so until the checkered flag.

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Started from the stands, Nicolas Gomar /Julien Lambert (AGS Events #25 - Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR) made a superb race until the fifteenth place of the general classification. They mostly won the AM ranking.

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Race 2

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On Easter Monday, the sky was overcast but the track was perfectly dry when the thirty-eight GT4s started for the second race.

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Soheil Ayari took advantage of his pole position to take the lead in front of Jim Pla and Anthony Beltoise.

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Grégory Guilvert did the right thing in the first lap, taking the fourth place.

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Benjamin Lariche was uncomfortable in the first laps, as he was quickly overwhelmed by Yann Ehrlacher (M Racing - YMR #68 - Mercedes AMG GT4).

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The top 10 was then completed by Steven Palette, Rodolphe Wallgren and Antoine Leclerc (Riviera Motorsport #83 - Audi R8 LMS).

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A little later, the intensity climbs a notch with sparring between Soheil Ayari and Jim Pla.

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Jim Pla ended up taking the lead after a quarter of an hour of racing. During the handover Jean-Luc Beaubelique lost a few seconds in stalling, but he recovered orders with more than ten seconds ahead of Nicolas Tardif (CMR #26 - Ginetta G55).

Fabien Michal was third ahead of Laurent Millara (M Racing - YMR #68 - Mercedes AMG GT4), Stéphane Tribaudini and Robert Consani, author of a magnificent triple overtaking on Blanchemain, Ricci and Wallgren.

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While there were eleven minutes left, Fabien Michal had an unstoppable attack on Nicolas Tardif for second place.

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Robert Consani went hunting the Audi of Fabien Michal and overtook him to seize the second position.

With less than a minute left, Consani swooped on Beaubelique, stuck in traffic with tires out. The Mercedes stayed in front of the Ginetta until the checkered flag.

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Fabien Michal did not manage to keep the third step of the podium, preceded by Tribaudini (CMR #36 - Ginetta G55) for 0.049s.

Rodolphe Wallgren won the AM ranking alone.

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Jim Pla / Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Benjamin Lariche / Robert Consani leave Nogaro ex æquo at the head of the French championship FFSA GT.

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My favourite of the Week End

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For this first round of the FFSA GT 2018 my favorite went to the Maserati GrandTurismo # 34 of GP 34 by Gemo Motorsport driven by the brothers Olivier and Arnaud Gomez.

For several reasons:

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It was the only car of this type (the KTM also would you tell me), but it was the oldest car on the starting grid.

And then for its 'Art Car' decoration at the colors of ‘Antoine le pilote’ the hero of the eponym comic.

(Based on FFSA-GT series Press release)

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