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GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau

19th - 21st May 2017

Event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello

32 GT4 cars start for the 76th Grand Prix de Pau

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After a triumphant kick-off in Nogaro last month, the French FFSA GT championship - GT4 European Series Southern Cup 2017 - returns for a new prestigious stage organized as part of the 76th Grand Prix de Pau.

Many were the competitors to come to confront this year with the mythical urban circuit which the definitive track of 2.760 km was established in the heart of the city, of the king Henry the IV, from 1935.

Six manufacturers were represented for this second round of the FFSA-GT 2017.

Aston Martin with the Vantage GT4

Teams Street Art Racing and Generation AMR Super Racing

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BMW with the M3 GT4 & M4 EKRIS GT4

Teams BMW Team France, L'Espace Bienvenue and Ekris Motorsport

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Ginetta with the G55 GT4

Teams Speed Car, CMR and Vic Team

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Maserati with the GrandTurismo GT4

Team CMR (On the entry list but not present)

McLaren with the 570 S GT4

Teams Energy By ART, Equipe Verschuur and Las Moras Racing Team

GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 017GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 018GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 019GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 020

Porsche with the Cayman Clubsport MR GT4.

Teams Racing Technology, TFT Racing/Porsche Zentrum Oberer Zürichsee, TFT Racing, Energy By ART, Riviera Motorsport, Martinet By Almeras, IMSA Performance, CD Sport, Vic Team and Sainteloc Racing.

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Qualifying sessions

Max Koebolt (Ekris BMW M4 #888 / Ekris Motorsport), usually engaged in the GT4 European Series Northern Cup, completed the best lap in 1'22'702 to advance by 0.005s Robert Consani (Ginetta #8 / Speed Car) in Q1.

Consani held provisional pole before being removed her best time for causing a red flag at the end of the first qualifying session of 15 minutes. Despite the withdrawal of his pole position, the Ginetta #8 would figure in the front row of the Saturday night race.

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Scenario identical during the second qualifying session, which determined the grid of the Race 2. Gaël Castelli (Ginetta #444 / Speed Car) took first the reference time, but he leaves then for spin at turn 9, causing a second red flag at one minute from the checkered flag. Dispossessed of his best time, Castelli lost his pole position to Soheil Ayari (Ginetta #26 / CMR).

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Race 1 Saturday at 22:00

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Starting from pole position, Koebolt succeeded in keeping the orders of the pack of 31 GT4 cars launched to the assault of the mythical circuit of Pau at the sunset.

The Safety Car was not long in making its entry on the track, following a collision at the back of the peloton between the Ginetta Team Speed Car #445 and the Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR GT4 #69 of Saintéloc Racing.

GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 045GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 046GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 047GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 048GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 049GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 050GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 051GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 052

No sooner had the horde been released than Robert Consani (Ginetta #8 / Team Speed Car) ,nestled in the exhausts of the leading Ekris, was going to try during the entire first relay to find the opening, in vain.

If the chassis of the agile Ginetta makes a very comfortable car in the second sector, the power of the BMW allowed Koebolt to keep his head until the mandatory driver change.

GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 053GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 054GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 055GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 056

Adopting similar strategies, Ekris Motorsport and Speed Car were picking up their cars at the same time, promising a remote duel in the narrow pit lane of Pau. Once again, the No. 888 did not flank and Van der Ende stands just ahead of Benjamin Lariche, team-mate of Consani.

Gaël Castelli, who succeeded Rodolphe Wallgren on the Ginetta Speed Car #444, ended up joining the top pair. The co-leader of the ranking Pro-Am Drivers collided with his teammate, depriving Pascal Destembert’s team of a double podium.

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Their misfortune benefited the Porsche #11 Team Racing Technology by Sylvain Noël, also team manager of the structure, and Jimmy Antunes, who finished second.

Started eighth, Nicolas Tardif and Soheil Ayari (Ginetta #26 / CMR) finished their nighttime efforts in third place.

GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 061GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 062GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 063GT4 European Series Southern Cup - Grand prix de Pau - Pau (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 064

In the French FFSA GT AM championship, the Lamic brothers confirm their dynamics of Nogaro with a second victory this season for the Ginetta #54.

Alain Grand and Didier Moureu (Ginetta #65 / CMR) finished second, while Jean-Luc Blanchemain and his nephew Michael (Porsche #27 IMSA Performance) completed the Top 3.

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The final classification of the Race 1 is under reserve further to the inspection and relegation of the BMW M4 Ekris #888 for technical irregularity.

The Ekris Motorsport team decided to appeal the decision of the stewards.

Race 2 Sunday at 12:50

Author of pole position, Soheil Ayari (Ginetta #26 / CMR) resisted to Gaël Castelli (Ginetta #444 / Speed Car) to turn in head to the first corner.

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Behind, skirmishes in the middle of the pack left the Ginetta CMR #65 out, while the Porsche Team Racing Technology #11 had to go back through the pits.

Taking advantage of the racing incidents and now third, Ekris #888 gained a new place during the driver change window, with Max Koebolt standing in the second row. The Dutch driver quickly joined the leading Ginetta, where Nicolas Tardif took over from Ayari. Koebolt took advantage of a slight error from his rival to the last chicane to overtake him on the start / finish line that follows.

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In spite of several interventions of the Safety Car in second half of the race, Ekris #888 rejoined the arrival triumphantly.

Eighth at the start Mike Parisy / Gilles Vannelet (Porsche #30 / CD Sport), finished second and took the orders of the Pro-Am ranking.

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After relaying Dumez on the Cayman #66, Valentin Simonet allowed Saintéloc to win his first FFSA GT - GT4 South podium of the season.

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Also worth mentioning: the superb race of Benjamin Lariche and Robert Consani (Ginetta #8 / Speed Car). Starting from the back of the grid after not being able to participate in the second qualifying session, the duo returned to finish at the foot of the podium. Ander Vilariño and Niki Leutwiler (Porsche #2 / TFT Racing) completed the Top 5.

In the French FFSA GT AM Championship, Jean-Philippe and Paul Lamic (Ginetta #54 / Vic’Team) seemed to be heading into a third success this season when a puncture in the back right relegates them third.

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It was finally another crew rolling in the family who took advantage with the victory of Michael and Jean-Luc Blanchemain, authors of a no-fault in the streets of Pau.

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My favorite of the Week End

My favorite of this week end goes to the race stewards who had a lot of work during this meeting in Pau. Pau, like Monaco, forgives no mistake.

The slightest deviation is immediately sanctioned, exit in the rails, pileup or roll over.

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(Based on GT4 European Series Southern Cup Press release)

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