Elia Erhart clinched his first Fanatec GT2 European Series outright and Am class win in Sunday’s second race at the Red Bull Ring, overcoming an additional 30 seconds in the pits to take the top step of the podium in Austria.
The #18 LP Racing Audi had to serve the additional time during the pit window as team-mate Michael Doppelmayr was unable to compete due to unforeseen circumstances on Sunday. Driving solo, Erhart delivered a stellar drive to negate the deficit, moving his way up the order from fourth after the pitstops to take Nicolas Saelens for the lead on the penultimate lap of the 50-minute encounter.
Although usurped to the outright lead in the closing stages, the #11 PK Carsport crew of Saelens and Stienes Longin can be more than satisfied with a hard-earned second Pro-Am win of the season, having started from 10th on the grid and suffered a non-finish in race one on Saturday.
Five-way fight for second race spoils in Austria
The second Fanatec GT2 European Series outing of the weekend in Austria served up one of the closest contests so far in the championship’s short history. Once again, the Austrian True Racing by Reiter Engineering #16 KTM took up pole position for the race two start but the home team immediately came under pressure as the field roared up and into turn one.
Although holding the lead for the first four laps, Rosina could do little to keep the sister #14 KTM and Brabham BT63 GT2 at bay around the 4.318km circuit. A superb move up the inside earned Reinhard Kofler the lead on lap five and Anders Fjordbach duly followed suit.
Rosina was consequently pushed back to third and into the clutches of Erhart’s Am-leading LP Racing Audi, whilst DTM legend Bernd Schneider was on a blistering charge from the back of the grid in the Mercedes-AMG GT Track Series invitational car to take both and place second as the pitstop window opened.
Although the Brabham got the jump in the pits, a drive-through penalty put the #14 KTM back in front with Horst Felbermayr Jr. With the #16 KTM and Gianluca Giorgi’s Ebi Motors Porsche both falling a fraction short on pitstops and having to serve drive-throughs, the PK Carsport machine moved up to second following a strong opening stint by Stienes Longin to bring the Audi up from 10th on the grid.
Giorgi’s drive-through duly promoted Erhart back into the Am-class lead and onto the rear bumper of the High Class Racing Audi, leaving the Italian to snatch second from Aurelijus Rusteika with just over six minutes remaining.
An intense final five minutes saw Saelens slash the KTM’s advantage before pulling off a pass for the lead, only for Erhart to follow and pile on the pressure. A brilliant move into turn one on the penultimate tour secured the German driver’s maiden outright and Am class win.
Saelens retained second overall, claiming a second Pro-Am win of the season in the process, ahead of the two True Racing KTM’s of Felbermayr Jr and Hubert Trunkenpolz. Yesterday’s Am winner, Henry Hassid had another good run to finish fifth overall and second in class ahead of the PK Carsport Audi of Bert Longin and Peter Guelinckx. Yesterday’s outright winners, Stefan Rosina and Filip Sladecka finished seventh.
Stéphane Ratel brought the SPS Mercedes-AMG home an impressive eighth overall, with Giorgi ninth and the #88 Audi completing the top 10. Pro-Am leaders heading into round two, the High Class crew had to settle for P11 ahead of Gorini’s LP Racing Porsche and the Brabham, which suffered a puncture in the closing stages.
The Fanatec GT2 European Series continues with round three at Misano, Italy, 2-3 July.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group