The GT4 European Series emerges from its two-month break to spark back into life at Circuit Paul Ricard this weekend, with a 50-car field set to battle it out at the second round of the season.
Continuing to show the diversity of the GT4 formula, the entry features nine different brands being run by 25 different teams, with drivers from 15 different nations ready to go head-to-head across three classes of competition.
The biggest question heading into the double-header in France is: who can stop Racing Spirit of Léman duo Gus Bowers and Konstantin Lachenauer?
Having enjoyed a near-perfect weekend during the season opener in Imola – with the #10 Aston Martin AMR Vantage GT4 claiming both outright race victories, plus a pole position and a fastest lap – Briton Bowers and Swiss Lachenauer have built an early lead in the championship but, with 10 races still to run, things are still wide open.
There are several crews queueing up to try and reel in the leading Aston, with Saintéloc Racing’s Roee Meyuhas and Erwan Bastard currently best placed to make an impact. The pair were second in class across both Imola races in their #14 Audi R8 LMS, and have since benefited from extra mileage competing in the recent FFSA French GT round at Magny-Cours, where they again appeared on the podium.
Another challenge comes from much closer to home, with Racing Spirit of Léman’s sister car crewed by Tom Canning and Akhil Rabindra also within striking distance. The pair completed the Silver Cup podium in both outings in Italy, and will look to climb a few steps higher this time around.
Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport lies fourth in the points thanks to the efforts of Turkish racer Berkay Besler and reigning British GT4 champion Will Burns, who was a late addition to the team’s #12 BMW M4 before the opening event. It will also be worth keeping an eye on CMR’s #66 Toyota GR Supra, with Belgian Antoine Potty and Frenchman Romain Monti determined to fight back after engine issues prevented them scoring in the opening race of the season.
Beyond the top five, Selleslagh Racing Team Mercedes-AMG duo Luca Bosco and Alexandre Papadopulos cannot be discounted, neither can Allied Racing’s Porsche pairing of Moritz Wiskirchen/Alexander Hartvig, who return to European Series duty after their recent outings in GT4 Germany. Team Speedcar and drivers Robert Consani/Benjamin Lariche will be eyeing a big score after disappointment in Imola, when their Audi was ruled out of the weekend after a crash during practice.
On home soil, there will also be a horde of Alpine A110s from teams such as Arkadia Racing, Mirage Racing and Autosport GP.
Things literally couldn’t be tighter, with the top two crews tied on points after the opening round. Perhaps the surprise of the Imola weekend came in the form of Allied Racing’s teenage sensation Vincent Andronaco, who scored an outright pole position on his GT4 European Series debut and then went on to finish second overall and claim the class glory alongside stand-in team-mate Andreas Mayrl in the #22 Porsche. For this weekend, Andronaco will be reunited with his full-time team-mate Constantin Dressler.
For all Allied Racing and Andronaco’s speed, the small Centri Porsche Ticino team had an answer through its consistency, with Ivan Jacoma and Alex Fontana grabbing victory in race two to go with a further podium and a pole position to make it all square in the championship.
The top two won’t have things all their own way though, with Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Jim Pla looking to make progress in their #87 Akkodis ASP Team Mercedes-AMG. Last year’s class runners-up had to be content with second place and a sixth at Imola. Right behind them are Hendrik Still/Max Kronberg (W&S Motorsport Porsche), Gregory Guilvert/Fabien Michal (Saintéloc Racing Audi) and Gabriela Jílková/Robert Haub (Drago Racing Team ZVO Mercedes-AMG). Kenny Herremans/Dante Rappange will be keen to make up ground in V8 Racing’s Chevrolet Camaro after a bruising season opener, while the field will also welcome an additional entry from Saintéloc Racing this weekend with Adrien Tambay (son of former grand prix driver Patrick) and Gregory Faessel Curson sharing a fourth Audi R8 LMS for the team. Another squad expanding for the second round is Greystone GT, which will field twin McLarens for the first time, with Alexander Woller and Richard Distl making their first of a handful of appearances this year. They join the team’s full-season entry of Adam Carroll and Tim Whale.
There’s a familiar look to the Am class points table, with reigning champions Christophe Hamon and Michael Blanchemain topping the order in the #69 Team Fullmotorsport Audi R8 LMS. The pair grabbed a class win and a second place at Imola, but were pushed all the way by Julien Lambert and Wilfried Cazalbon in the #89 AGS Events Aston Martin. Lambert/Cazalbon won race two in Italy to close to within two points of the championship leaders, meaning it’s game on heading into round two.
Far from being a two-horse race, Mikhail Loboda/Andrey Solukovtsev aren’t far behind in their W&S Motorsport Porsche, with father-and-son pairing Mauro and Benjamin Ricci just a further two points adrift in their #61 Akkodis ASP Team Mercedes-AMG. Add in further challengers such as Benoit Lison/Cyril Saleilles (Team Fullmotorsport Audi), Markus Lungstrass/Henrik Lyngbye Pedersen (Team Spirit Racing Aston Martin) and last year’s class runners-up Paolo Meloni/Massimiliano Tresoldi (W&D Racing Team BMW M4) and the contest is far less clear cut.
The second round of the GT4 European Series season at Circuit Paul Ricard gets underway with qualifying on Saturday, June 4 at 10:30CEST before the first race at 16:20CEST. Race two is scheduled for 11:25CEST Sunday.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group