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Blancpain Sprint Série 2014 - Coupes de Pâques in Nogaro

20th -21st April 2014

Event report by Raymond Bonnello

Blancpain Sprint Série 2014 – Round 1 – Coupes de Pâques - Nogaro – France

It is on the circuit of Nogaro, in the southwest of France, in the framework of “Les Coupes de Pâques” that begins Blancpain Sprint Series, successor of the FIA GT Series.

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The track

3636 meters in length and including 14 turns, this circuit created in 1960 was the first circuit permanent of France. He owes his name, Circuit Paul Armagnac, not in the local brandy, but to the Gascon driver Paul Armagnac (1924-1962).

Presentation of the meeting

Stéphane Ratel Organisation and Blancpain Company launch Blancpain Sprint Series instead of FIA GT Series. The format remains identical, two races of one hour will be for the program of seven meetings planned in 2014. For this first round, on Easter week-end, the races will run Sunday and Monday.

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Qualifying Practice

It is by sunny Saturday that took place the qualifying hostilities. The fastest lap will be realised by Jeroen Bleekemolen (Lamborghini FLII - Grasser Racing Team #28) in 1’25.046. In front of Laurens Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS Ultra - Belgian Audi Club Team WRT #1) and Rene Rast (Audi R8 LMS Ultra - Belgian Audi Club Team WRT #2). One striking fact is Armaan Ebrahim (Mercedes SLS AMG - Fortec Motorsports #62) crash. Car no longer appear the week-end. the indian driver is unhurt in the accident.

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Qualifying Race

A local saying says 'Les coupes de Pâques' without rain are not 'Les coupes de Pâques', the tradition was respected on Sunday morning. Rain had ceased for this qualifying race, but the race would be declared a wet race.

The race was dominated by Cesar Ramos and Laurens Vanthoor (Audi R8LMS Ultra - Belgian Audi Club Team WRT #1) from start to finish having started 2nd on the grid. Duo Enzo Ide and Rene Rast (Audi R8LMS Ultra - Belgian Audi Club Team WRT #2) crossed the line in second, but were later disqualified. The second step of the podium returned to Winkelhock and Mayr-Melnhof (Audi R8LMS Ultra - Phoenix Racing #6) and the third one to Sergio Jimenez and Caca Bueno (BMW Z4 - BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil #0). The silver cup has been won by Mateusz Lisowski and Vincent Abril (Audi R8LMS Ultra - Belgian Audi Club Team WRT #4).

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Main Race

Despite the morning fog that is a sunny conditions that will compete the main race by Monday Paschal.

During the formation lap at departure launched a contact between Cesar Ramos (Audi R8 LMS Ultra - Belgian Audi Club Team WRT #1) and Niki Mayr-Melnhof (Audi R8LMS Ultra - Phoenix Racing #6). The Brazilian driver had to bring the car back to the pitlane to stop (suspension damage).

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Sergio Jimenez (BMW Z4 - BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil #0) took the lead of the race. After a few laps, Maximilian Buhk (Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 - HTP Motorsport #84) overtook the Brazilian and took the lead until the end, followed a few seconds by Grégory Guilvert/Stéphane Ortelli (Audi R8LMS Ultra - G-Drive Racing #3) after a pit stop of anthology. The fight for the third proved to be very exitante between Mateusz Lisowski/Vincent Abril (Audi R8LMS Ultra - Belgian Audi Club Team WRT #4), Sergio Jimenez/Caca Bueno (BMW Z4 - BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil #0) and Stef Dusseldorp/Sergei Afanasiev (Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 - HTP Motorsport #85). Mateusz Lisowski and Vincent Abril (R8LMS Audi Ultra - Belgian Audi Club WRT Team # 4) were awarded the last step of the podium after a constant struggle with their two opponents, repeating their success in Silver Cup.

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