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FFSA GT French Championship - 3th Round - Ledenon - France

5th - 7th July 2019

Event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello

FFSA GT French Championship - 3th Round - Ledenon - France (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 001FFSA GT French Championship - 3th Round - Ledenon - France (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 002FFSA GT French Championship - 3th Round - Ledenon - France (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 003FFSA GT French Championship - 3th Round - Ledenon - France (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 004

Located near Nîmes (southern France), Lédenon found the FFSA GT French Championship after several years of absence.

The GT4 were going to compete for the first time on this circuit appearing among the most technical, hilly and winding of France.

Special feature of the circuit is to turn counterclockwise.

Official tests (Thursday July 4th)

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Welcomed by a bright sun, the crews had ideal conditions to discover their GT4 on the Lédenon circuit through the three Free practice sessions on the program.

In the first session (10h05-11h25) the best time went to Pierre Alexendre Jean (Alpine A110 #36 - CMR) in 1:26.352.

In AM Erwan Bastard (Ginetta G55 #72 - Schatz Lestienne Racing) established the reference time in 1:28.223

It was in the furnace (40°C / 104°F) at the beginning of the afternoon that the second free session took place.

In 1:27.002 Eric Tremoulet (Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR #64 - Team Jouffruit by Vic’Team) inscribed his name on top of the time sheet.

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The domination of the #72 Ginetta G55 GT4 in AM continued with Sylvain Caroff's best time in 1'28''425.

The rhythm accelerated among the Bronze pilots in the third and last session under the impulse of Danila Ivanov (Alpine A110 GT4 #2 - Speed Car) and Valentin Simonet (Ginetta G55 GT4 #22 - K-Worx), to the advantage of the Russian in 1'27''568.

The times also came down in PRO-AM, where Nicolas Prost (Alpine A110 GT4 #76 - Bodemer Auto) completed a lap in 1'26''500.

After this day of rediscovering the route Lédenon 2526 laps were covered for a total of 7 960 kilometers.

Free practices (Friday July 5th)

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Friday morning, Pierre-Alexandre Jean was the first to lower his mark with a lap in 1'25''745.

The double winner of Nogaro kept the lead until the checkered in front of his teammate Soheil Ayari (Alpine A110 GT4 #9 - CMR) and Steven Palette (Audi R8 LMS GT4 #27 - IMSA Performance).

Nicolas Prost and Christopher Cappello (Ginetta G55 GT4 #1 - CMR) completed the top five.

As for the Bronze crews, Julien Lambert (Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 #10 - AGS Events) took advantage of the final sprint after the red flag caused by Pierre Courroye (Alpine A110 GT4 #7 - Speed Car) to blow the first place in 1'27''956.

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Debates resumed in the afternoon.

If Jim Pla (Mercedes AMG #87 - Akka-ASP Team), Gaël Castelli (Alpine A110 GT4 #616 - Mirage Racing) and Nicolas Prost took turns at the top, none managed to approach the reference set by Pierre-Alexandre Jean.

The times did not evolve thereafter with in particular two red flags in the last twenty minutes.

Nicolas Prost finished first in 1'26''517 while teammate Alain Ferté (Alpine A110 GT4 #35 - Bodemer Auto) took the number of Alpine A110 GT4 in the top quartet to three.

The classification was also frozen in AM, where Pascal Huteau (Ginetta G55 GT4 #72 - Schatz Lestienne Racing) had quickly taken the lead in 1'27''801 after a brief duel with Sylvain Caroff.

Qualifying practices (Saturday July 6th)

Driver 1

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Under a radiant sun, the first session turned to the advantage of Robert Consani (Alpine A110 GT4 #8 - Speed Car).

Leader in the first salvo of launches started interrupted by the crash of Jihad Aboujaoude (Ginetta G55 GT4 #777 - K-Worx), he improved in 1'26''180 at the resumption to seal his first pole position of the year.

The counterattack, at the mid session, was led by Olivier Jouffret (Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 #64 - Team Jouiffruit by Vic'Team), but it failed at less than one-tenth of the reference time.

His effort, however, allowed him to contain the returns of Alain Ferte and Stéphane Lémeret (Alpine A110 GT4 #36 - CMR) a few minutes later.

Edouard Cauhaupé (Mercedes-AMG GT4 #187 - Sport CD) was fifth ahead of Rudy Servol (Alpine A110 GT4 #111 - CMR),

The top ten was completed by Fabien Michal (Audi R8 LMS #42 - Sainteloc Racing), Olivier Pernaut (Audi R8 LMS #48 - Orhes Racing), Alain Gaunot (Ginetta G55 GT4 #71 - Schatz Lestienne Racing) and Ronald Basso (Alpine A110 GT4 #616 - Mirage Racing).

The top 17 cars, in qualifying, were separated by less than one second.

Eleventh and leader in the AM category, Nicolas Gomar (Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR #10 - AGS Events) also took pole after the first red flag despite the replica of Dmitry Gvazava (Alpine A110 GT4 #2 - Speed Car) and Sylvain Caroff.

Driver 2

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The second session was even more lively.

Benjamin Lariche (Alpine A110 GT4 #8 - Speed Car), Grégory Guilvert (Audi R8 LMS GT4 #42 - Saintéloc Racing), Pierre-Alexandre Jean and Nicolas Schatz (Ginetta G55 GT4 #71 - Schatz-Lestienne Racing) were fighting for the best time,to the advantage of the last named before the red flag caused by Erwan Bastard.

On the restart Soheil Ayari was clocked in 1'25''495 allowing him to achieve his first pole of the season.

Jim Pla abducted the third position to Pierre-Alexandre Jean for a millisecond while only Guilvert retained its fifth place until the checkered flag.

Raised gradually Arthur Rougier (Mercedes-AMG GT4 #187 - Sport CD) ranked sixth ahead Grégoire Demoustier (Alpine A110 GT4 #35 - Bodemer Auto), Steven Palette (Audi R8 LMS GT4 #27 - IMSA Performance), Nicolas Prost and Stéphane Tribaudini (Alpine A110 GT4 #111 - CMR).

Among the Amateurs, Valentin Simonet dominated the category in 1'26'223 ahead of Wilfried Cazalbon (Ginetta G55 GT4 #84 - CMR) and his Lebanese teammate Shahan Sarkissian (Ginetta G55 GT4 #777 - K-Worx).

Julien Lambert placed the first non-Ginetta in fourth place ahead of Danila Ivanov.

Race 1 (Saturday July 6th)

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The fastest time in Q1, Robert Consani started from pole position ahead of Olivier Jouffret , Alain Ferté, Stéphane Lémeret and Édouard Cauhaupé, a top five separated by less than a quarter of a second in qualifying.

In its conditions where temperatures exceed 70°C (158°F) in some cockpits, the hierarchy evolved little at the start until the first clash between Alain Gaunot and Ronald Basso for ninth place.

Tension was also rising to the outposts as Robert Consani was under pressure from Alain Ferté and Stéphane Lémeret as soon as the two men took the lead over Olivier Jouffret.

Behind, Rudy Servol and Fabien Michal surprised Édouard Cauhaupé, but the Mercedes driver managed to stay in touch with his opponents.

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After several unsuccessful attempts Alain Ferté placed a decisive attack on Robert Consani just before the opening of the driver change window.

The new leader was one of the last to go through the stands to give the wheel to Grégoire Demoustier. This one took the track in front of Benjamin Lariche, while Eric Trémoulet took the opportunity to relocate temporarily on the podium.

However, Arthur Rougier does not lose time to overtake him from the beginning of his relay.

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In the last twenty minutes, the positions stabilized until Gregory Demoustier saw Benjamin Lariche and Arthur Rougier coming back in his exhausts,but the Bodemer Auto driver didn’t to offer his team his first victory in the French FFSA GT Championship.

Further on, Éric Trémoulet held fourth place against Pierre-Alexandre Jean, who had overtook Grégory Guilvert.

Stéphane Tribaudini and Thomas Drouet (Mercedes AMG #88 - Akka-ASP Team) also surpassed the reigning French Champion in a top ten completed by Jim Pla and Gaël Castelli.

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In the bronze crews, Nicolas Gomar rushed ahead of Dmitry Gvazava (Alpine A110 GT4 / Speed Car) and Sylvain Caroff (Ginetta G55 GT4 / Schatz-Lestienne Racing).

If Nicolas Gomar retained the lead at the start, Pascal Huteau (Gnetta G55 GT4 / K-Worx) won two positions to be in second place while Dmitry Gvazava made the wrong operation by downgrading the bottom of the pack.

Continuing his momentum, Pascal Huteau took control in lap 11 before being the last rider in the category to go through the stands.

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If his teammate Valentin Simonet preserved the first place after the changes of drivers, he lost any chance of victory by getting a drive-through for a non-regulatory pit stop.

After having relayed Nicolas Gomar, Julien Lambert inherited the lead ahead of Erwan Bastard.

The latter was becoming more and more pressing over the laps, but Julien Lambert did not yield to sign his third consecutive success.

Pascal Gibon (Mercedes-AMG GT4 #53 - AKKA-ASP Team) saw the third step of the podium go out the window, after the return of Danila Ivanov and Wilfried Cazalbon in the last minutes.

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Race 2 (Sunday July 7th)

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In softer conditions than the day before, Soheil Ayari took a place, for the first time this season, on pole ahead of Nicolas Schatz, Jim Pla, Pierre-Alexandre Jean and Grégory Guilvert.

Fourth on the grid, Pierre-Alexandre Jean immediately took control of Soheil Ayari.

Behind, the cards were redistributed by two incidents: a collision between Steven Palette and Grégoire Demoustier at the first corner, then another between Jim Pla and Nicolas Schatz in the second tower.

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Behind the CMR duo in the lead, Thomas Drouet emerged from the thirteenth to the third place, followed by Vincent Beltoise (Alpine A110 GT4 #919 - Mirage Racing), started nineteenth.

The hierarchy stabilized after Soheil Ayari’s withdrawal due to brake problems.

Pierre-Alexandre Jean led ahead of Thomas Drouet, Vincent Beltoise, Gaël Castelli and Mike Parisy (Mercedes AMG #16 - Akka-ASP Team).

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The leader went on the offensive to widen the gap and compensate the penalty of ten seconds at the pits to balance the level of his crew.

Despite his efforts, his partner Stéphane Lémeret took the track behind Vincent Beltoise's team-mate, Benoit Lison (Alpine A110 GT4 #919 - Mirage Racing), but he received a stop-and-go for not having respected the mandatory minimum time when stopping.

Stéphane Lémeret however did not wait for the penalty to find the opening on Benoit Lison and distance Benjamin Ricci and Rudy Servol.

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If his lead was reduced by the neutralization caused by the collision between Éric Debard (Audi R8 LMS GT4 #14 - Saintéloc Racing) and Alain Ferté,the Belgian did not shake in the last minutes to seal the third victory of his team while Rudy Servol offers the double at CMR overtaking Benjamin Ricci at the restart.

Author of an excellent pit stop with Nicolas Prost, Jean-Charles Rédélé took fourth place ahead of Fabien Michal.

Rodolphe Wallgren (Alpine A110 GT4 #7 - Speed Car) was sixth, followed by Christopher Campbell (BMW M4 GT4 #17 - L'Espace Bienvenue), Olivier Pernaut, Edouard Cauhaupé and Romain Brandela (BMW M4 GT4 #37 - 3Y Technology), winner of the Pirelli Challenge with his teammate Morgan Moulin-Traffort after winning thirty-one positions in both races of the weekend.

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In the Am category, Valentin Simonet was best placed on the grid ahead of Wilfried Cazalbon, Shahan Sarkissian and Julien Lambert.

Initially fifth, Danila Ivanov saw his hopes go out the window in a surprising collision with Xavier Dayraut (Porsche GT Cayman GT4 MR #79 - AGS Events) during the installation lap.

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In a pack upset by the various incidents early in the race, Julien Lambert made a perfect start by climbing back to first place in the first ten minutes against Valentin Simonet and Shahan Sarkissian.

Behind, Pascal Gibon and Gilles Vannelet (Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR #90 - AGS Events) competed for fourth place before being overwhelmed by Christophe Hamon (Audi R8 LMS GT4 #5 - Full Motorsport) .

The leading third remained identical after the window of changes of drivers and Nicolas Gomar kept the controls for his crew against Pascal Huteau and Jihad Aboujaoude.

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Pascal Huteau, however, surprised Nicolas Gomar twenty minutes from the finish.

In parallel, Sylvain Caroff pursued the efforts of his partner Erwan Bastard and managed to reach the podium while the two men started from the last place on the grid.

Author of a beautiful end of the race, Gwenael Delomier (Audi R8 LMS GT4 #5 - Full Motorsport), was fourth at the expense of Jihad Aboujaoude.

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My favourite of the Week End

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D Day, the FFSA GT French Championship paid tribute to one of the figures of the Resistance by bringing up to date the Robert Benoist Cup which will reward the most combative driver of each race at Lédenon.

Robert Benoist won the Spa 24 Hours in 1929 with Alfa Romeo. During the Second World War, he became a Resistance and secret agent of the Special Operations Executive.

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Alain Ferté in Race 1 and Vincent Beltoise in Race 2 will be rewarded for their fighting spirit by being awarded the Robert Benoist Cup, awarded in honor of the rider who became a spy during the Second World War.

(Based on SRO Motorsports Group Press release)

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