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International GT Open - Round 1 - Circuit Paul Ricard - France

14th -16th May 2021

Event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello

International GT Open - Round 1 - Circuit Paul Ricard - France (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 001International GT Open - Round 1 - Circuit Paul Ricard - France (event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello) - picture number 002

Practice

The 2021 season of the International GT Open started smoothly with five sessions in total of 2 private test and of 3 free practice, spread over Thursday afternoon and Friday, in a Circuit Paul Ricard under blue skies but with a lot of wind.

At the end of the exercise, it was clear that the more powerful cars prevailed on the French high-speed track, it was the JP Motorsport McLaren 720S #88 of Christian Klien-Patryk Krupinski recording the best lap time (2:00.499) in session 2, beating by not much more of one tenth the AKM Motorsport Mercedes #47 of Loris Spinelli-Alex Moiseev and of almost 4 tenths the other AMG, by Winward #48, of Nico Bastian-Markus Sattler, who was fastest in the third session in 2:01.495.

Another Mercedes, the AKM #14 of Florian Scholze-Jen Liebhauser, posted fastest time in the Bronze session on Friday.

Behind the fastest of the McLarens and the two leading Mercedes, Bentley works driver Jordan Pepper, in his first GT Open appearance, led the opposition with the Continental of Team Lazarus #4.

No incidents were to report, with only the Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #19 of Yuki Nemoto-Baptiste Moulin having to stop after one lap in free practice 3 after a technical problem.

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Qualifying

Q1

The very first pole position of 2021 in the International GT Open went to Nico Bastian in the Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.

The German driver was the only one to descend under 2:00 minutes per lap in 1:59.926.

The first row will be 100% Mercedes with Loris Spinelli’s second fastest time on the AKM Motorsport AMG GT3 #47.

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The second row will be shared by the Team Lazarus Bentley Continental GT3 of Jordan Pepper (pole in Pro in 2:00.143) and the JP Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 of Christian Klien.

Credited with 7th time overall, Florian Scholze took pole in Am in the AKM Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 2:01.446.

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Q2 International GT Open and GT Cup Open Europe together

Adam Carroll put the Balfe Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 #22 on pole for Race 2 of meeting.

Shaun Balfe's teammate clocked 2: 02.027 at the very end of the session.

Audi had the Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3 #7 alongside it. Ollie Millroy conceded 95 thousandths in 2:02.122.

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Andy Soucek, Lechner Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R II #77, and Ivan Peklin, Team Lazarus Bentley Continental GT3, shared the second row.

The third row was 100% Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 with Yuki Nemoto #19 and Michele Beretta #63.

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In the GT Open Cup Europe, pole went to Nico Verdonck's ProSport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 #191.

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Race 1

At the start, poleman Nico Bastian had to fight to keep the advantage ahead of Spinelli and Jordan, who took second in the initial string of corners, but drama striked right behind, as Schraml Twin Busch by Equipe Vitesse Mercedes AMG GT3 #15, who are rejoining the track after a slight excursion, missed breaking point in turn 3 and hited Christian Klien JP McLaren McLaren 720 S GT3 #88 , almost flying over it.

Fortunately, there was no personal damage. First five laps were behind the safety car.

Shortly after restart, Pepper stealed the lead from Bastian, but action only lasted for two laps, up to the moment when François Grimm lost its car entering the Signes straight and hited the wall on the inside, with quite some damage to his Boutsen Ginion Lamborghini Gallardo Reiter R-EX #6.

It was again the safety-car taking control of operations.

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Race restarted in lap 14, with Pepper in front of Bastian, Spinelli and Osborne, Inception Racing McLaren 720 S GT3 #72, and the window for driver change opened immediately after, with the leaders delaying their stop as much as possible.

After all stops, Sattler, Winward Mercedes AMG GT3 #48, was in the lead, but passed by Peklin,Team Lazarus Bentley Continental GT3 #4, in lap 20.

Moss,Inception Racing McLaren 720 S GT3 #72, was third ahead of Beretta, Millroy, Nemoto, Soucek, Carroll and Paverud, Reno Racing Honda NSX GT3 Evo #11.

Cipriani, Barone Rampante Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #8, led in Am ahead of Liebhauser and McKansy HP Racing International Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #17.

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FF 27 28

Peklin extended his lead to 6 seconds, with Sattler keeping second ahead of Moss, Millroy, Beretta and Soucek, who had a nice fight to pass Nemoto.

In Am, Liebhauser took over Cipriani, who visited the pits in lap 25 with an ABS issue.

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Saattler spined in lap 26 and droped to 9th.

Peklin won ahead of the two Inception McLarens and Soucek, who had bounced back to fourth in the closing laps.

Fastest lap Jordan Pepper in 2:01.680 at 172.2 Km/h in lap 17

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Race 2

The race 2 saw the International GT Open and GT Cup Open Europe fields race together.

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At the start, poleman Adam Carroll got out-powered and passed by Soucek, who took the lead, Millroy and Nemoto, with Paverud in fifth ahead of Beretta, Krupinski, Peklin (who had cut a bit in the first chicane) and Liebhauser, first in Am.

Positions were quite stable in the initial laps, with the biggest battle being for 7th, between Krupinski, Peklin and Liebhauser.

In lap 10, as the leaders take a first lap to the GT Cup contenders, Soucek had an hesitation and Millroy attempted a move to get past.

There was a slight contact between the two and it was Nemoto, diving in the inside, who pipped everybody and became the new leader.

In the meantime, Peklin had dropped to 9th.

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In lap 13, the window for driver change opened and after all pit stops, Al Zubair, Lechner Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R II #77, was still in the lead, with a 3-second gap on Schandorff, Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #63, 4 on Moulin and 7 on Iribe, Inception Racing McLaren 720 S GT3 #7.

Follow Balfe, Moller, Klien and Pepper.

Change of leader came in lap 23, as Schandorff passes Al Zubair, while Moulin was now third ahead of Iribe, Klien, Pepper and Moller,Reno Racing Honda NSX GT3 Evo #11.

The greatest fight was between two McLarens, for fourth, with Iribe conceding the position three laps from the end lap after a great resistance.

The last feat saw Moulin passing Al Zubair to take second and secure Vincenzo Sospiri Racing’s 1-2.

In the closing laps, Scholze stoped and Giuseppe Cipriani took the win in Am.

Fastest lap Jordan Pepper in 2:01.746 at 172.1 Km/h in lap 14

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Andrzej Lewandowski,alone at the wheel, won race of the GT Cup Open Europe season-opener, giving Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo #66 another success ahead Rodrigue Gillion/Nico Verdonck PROsport Racing Aston Martin Vantage #191.

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Other competitions

The meeting saw the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup ‘992’ of the Porsche Carrera Cup France championship.

Race 1

Overall

1 : #20 Jaxon Evans Martinet by Alméras

2 : #19 Dorian Boccolacci Martinet by Alméras

ProAm

1 : #7 Jérôme Boullery YDEO by Racing Technology

Am

1 : #59 Maxence Maurice IMSA Performance

Fastest lap #11 Florian Latorre in 2:05.504 at 167.0 Km/h in lap 11

Race 2

Overall

1 : #19 Dorian Boccolacci Martinet by Alméras

2 : #20 Jaxon EvansMartinet by Alméras

ProAm

1 : #55 Nicolas Misslin BWT Lechner Racing

Am

1 : #59 Maxence Maurice IMSA Performance

Fastest lap #11 Florian Latorre in 2:05.741 at 166.6 Km/h in lap 12

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Euroformula Open was also in the game.

Race 1, race 2 winner and fastest lap in the three races.

#52 Jak Crawford Team Motopark

Race 3 winner

#28 Cameron Das Team Motopark

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Italian F4 Championship powered by Abarth rewarded us with three races during the weekend.

Race 1 winner and fastest lap

#7 Kirill Smal Prema Powerteam

Race 2 winner

#70 Tim Tramnitz US Racing

Fastest lap #7 Kirill Smal

Race 3 winner

#70 Tim Tramnitz US Racing

Fastest lap #8 Luke Browning

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See you soon

Take care

Based on International GT Open press release

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