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FFSA GT French Championship - Nogaro - Coupes de Paques

20th - 22nd April 2019

Event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello

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After six months of absence, the competitors of the FFSA GT French Championship returned to the track with the unmissables Coupes de Pâques of Nogaro.

It was with 44 cars on the track, that started this third season of the FFSA GT French Championship of the GT4 era.

Distributed as follows 27 PRO-AM, 16 AM and 1 GTC.

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Qualifying rounds

Qualifying Practice driver 1

Under a bright sun, the 44 GT4 entered the track to chase the first pole position of the year.

Robert Consani (Alpine A110 GT4 #8 / Speed Car) and Stéphane Lémeret (Alpine A110 GT4 #36 / CMR) seemed at first the most gifted at this game, but Fabien Michal (Audi R8 LMS #42 / Sainteloc Racing) had two quick laps before mid-session to afford the pole in 1'32''449.

Returning to the pits in the last ten minutes to preserve his Pirelli gums for the race, the French Champion FFSA GT could observe the struggle between the Alpine A110 GT4 launched in his pursuit.

For the first appearance of Bodemer Auto on the national stage, Alain Ferté (Alpine A110 #35 / Bodemer Auto) took over Robert Consani in a leading trio standing in 81/1000th. Stéphane Lémeret and Rudy Servol (Alpine A110 #111 / CMR) brought to four the number of Alpine in the top five ahead of Edouard Cauhaupé (Mercedes AMG GT4 #187 / CD Sport), Christopher Campbell (BMW M4 GT4 #17 / L'Espace Bienvenue), Laurent Hurgon (BMW M4 GT4 #3 / BMW Team France) and Fabien Barthez (Mercedes AMG GT4 #16 / AKKA-ASP Team).

Wallgren Rodolphe (Alpine A110 #7 / Speed Car) completed the ton ten.

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In the AM category, Pascal Huteau (Ginetta G55 GT4 #22 / K-Worx) quickly grabbed the top and he stayed until the checkered flag despite all the efforts of Christophe Hamon (Audi R8 LMS GT4 #5 / Full Motorsport) and Didier Dumaine (Porsche Cayman GT4 MR CS #161 / AGS Events).

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Qualifying Practice driver 2

The second session followed a similar scenario as Gregory Guilvert (Audi R8 LMS #42 / Sainteloc Racing) completed a lap in 1'31''917 near the half-way point.

Only driver to enter the minute thirty-one, the French imitated his partner Fabien Michal to offer a double pole to his crew.

Pierre-Alexandre Jean (Alpine A110 GT4 #36 / CMR) was second fastest ahead of Jim Pla (Mercedes AMG GT4 #87 / AKKA-ASP Team).

Behind them, Simon Gachet (Audi R8 LMS GT4 #14 / Sainteloc Racing) and Soheil Ayari (Alpine A110 GT4 #9 / CMR) were ambushing by hanging the top five.

In the final minutes of the session, Christopher Cappello (Ginetta G55 #1 / CMR) took sixth place at the expense of Adrien Tambay (Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 #141 / Cool Racing) while Vincent Beltoise (Alpine A110 GT4 #919 / Mirage Racing), Stéphane Tribaudini (Alpine A110 #111 / CMR) and Anthony Beltoise (Audi R8 LMS GT4 #21 / Saintéloc Racing) completed the top ten.

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Among the amateurs, the Lebanese Shahan Sarkissian (Ginetta G55 GT4 #777 / K-Worx) monopolized the pole in the category against Antoine Morisset (Ginetta G55 GT4 #99 / GM Sport) and Julien Lambert (Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 #10 / AGS Events ).

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Race 1

On the grid of this first confrontation of the year, Fabien Michal took the place in pole position ahead of Alain Ferté's Alpine A110 GT4, Robert Consani, Stéphane Lémeret and Rudy Servol.

Despite a few drops of rain, the competitors decided to stay in slick tires for the start on fat track.

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Once the peloton released, Fabien Michal kept the controls in front of the four Alpines.

If the positions did not evolve in this group of head where the Audi and BMW framed the Alpines, Fabien Michal and Alain Ferté managed to come off in the minutes while behind them the fight was raging.

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Opening the driver change window changed the game. Fabien Michal quickly passed the wheel to Grégory Guilvert while Alain Ferté and Robert Consani lengthened their relay, but it was Pierre-Alexandre Jean who emerged in the lead after relaying Stéphane Lémeret.

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A quarter of an hour before the finish, the exit of Erwan Bastard (Ginetta G55 GT4 / Schatz Lestienne Racing) caused a Full Course Yellow then the entry on track of the safety car.

The latter moved aside for a final sprint of seven minutes during which Pierre-Alexandre Jean did not let go and won against Grégory Guilvert and Benjamin Lariche.

Ricardo van der Ende (BMW M4 GT4 #17 / Espace Bienvenue) and Stéphane Tribaudini completed the top five.

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On the side of the Bronze crew, Pascal Huteau rushed ahead of Christophe Hamon, but it was installed immediately at the controls, followed by Nicolas Gomar (Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR #10 / AGS Events).

Christophe Hamon widened the gap, but Nicolas Gomar was the first to rush into the pit lane to hand over to Julien Lambert.

The bet of the AGS Events team paid off as opponents Gwenael Delomier (Audi R8 LMS GT4 #5 / Full Motorsport) and Valentin Simonet (Ginetta G55 GT4 #22 / K-Worx) emerged behind the closed window once.

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Twenty minutes from the checkered flag, Valentin Simonet overtook Gwenael Delomier to take second place.

Despite the appearance of the safety car, Julien Lambert was already too far and won the category.

Christophe Carrière (Porsche Cayman GT4 #161 / AGS Events) seemed able to finish third until his car stopped a few meters from the finish.

Out of his car to push it to the line, he nevertheless saw Gwenael Delomier take the last step of the podium.

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Race 2

From the first corner, Pierre-Alexandre Jean went outside to Grégory Guilvert to take control of the race.

Behind them, Simon Gachet grabbed the third place against Jim Pla and Soheil Ayari.

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Quickly, the two leaders detached themselves from the pack, but the fight raged behind Simon Gachet. After many attempts in the first twenty minutes, Jim Pla finally found the opening on the Audi and could start chasing the leaders.

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The contenders for victory made their change of mandatory driver in the same lap, with the exception of Soheil Ayari, who had returned earlier, and Simon Gachet, who passed the baton to Éric Debard (Audi R8 LMS #14 / Sainteloc Racing) at the very last moment.

In the wake, the crew of the Audi was penalized with a stop-and-go for entering the pits a few tenths after closing the window, losing any chance of getting a good result.

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The window of change closed, the order remains unchanged with Stéphane Lémeret in front of Fabien Michal and Jean-Luc Beaubelique (Mercedes AMG #87 / Akka-ASP Team).

The latter, however, is threatened by Rudy Servol and Fabien Barthez (AMG GT4 #16 / AKKA-ASP Team Mercedes), whose cars were respectively ninth and eleventh on the grid.

If Stéphane Lémeret controlled the debates to sign his second success ahead of Fabien Michal, Rudy Servol perfectly exploited a mistake of Jean-Luc Beaubelique to climb on the third step of the podium in the last laps.

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For his return to the French FFSA GT Championship, Fabien Barthez completed the top five.

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In the AM category, Shahan Sarkissian was best placed on the grid ahead of Antoine Morisset and Julien Lambert.

The rankings moved fast as the Lebanese got off the track at the first corner.

Julien Lambert took the lead in front of Lucas Frayssinet (BMW M4 GT4 #38 / 3Y Technology), but he saw his race stop in the gravel pit in the fourth lap.

A time ahead of Xavier Dayraut (Porsche Cayman GT4 #79 / AGS Events), Antoine Morisset and Danila Ivanov (Alpine A110 GT4 #2 / Speed Car) responded quickly to settle on the provisional podium.

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The trio was fighting a magnificent battle and Antoine Morisset exploited an exit of Julien Lambert to take the first place before the window of change of drivers.

The three crews passed in the pits in the same lap, but the leaders did the wrong thing since it was Dmitry Gvazava (Alpine A110 GT4 #2 / Speed Car) who emerged ahead of Nicolas Gomar and Pascal Huteau.

Pascal Huteau was however the real strongman of the end of the race.

After getting the better of Nicolas Gomar, he successfully attacked Dmitry Gvazava in the last lap to give himself the victory with 0''411 in advance!

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Standings after Nogaro

PRO-AM

1/ Lemeret Stéphane/Jean Pierre-Alexandre (Alpine A110 GT4 #36 / CMR) 50 points

2/ Michal Fabien/Guilvert Gregory (Audi R8 LMS #42 / Sainteloc Racing) 36 points

3/ Servol Rudy/Tribaudini Stéphane (Alpine A110 #111 / CMR) 25 points

AM

1/ Huteau Pascal/Simonet Valentin (Ginetta G55 #22 / K-Worx) 43 points

2/ Gomar Nicolas/Lambert Julien (Porsche 718 Cayman CS MR #10 / AGS Events) 40 points

3ex/ Bourret Christophe/Gibon Pascal (AMG GT4 #53 / AKKA-ASP Team Mercedes) 18 points

3ex/ Vannelet Gilles/Herr Eric (Porsche Cayman CS MR #90 / AGS Events) 18 points

3ex/ Dumaine Didier/Carrière Chritophe (Porsche Cayman CS MR #161 / AGS Events) 18 points

3ex/ Gvazava Dmitry/Ivanov Danila (Alpine A110 GT4 #2 / Speed Car) 18 points

See you for the next race in May (17-18-19) in the streets of Pau.

(Based on SRO Motorsports Group Press release)

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