The Fanatec GT2 European Series Pro-Am battle will roll on to the final round of the season after Audi and KTM shared the Pro-Am race honours during the series’ debut at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia this weekend.
PK Carport’s Nicolas Saelens and Stienes Longin returned their Audi to the top of the podium and Pro-Am points standings in the first 50-minute race of the weekend in Valencia.
True Racing by Reiter Engineering duo Stefan Rosina and Filip Sladecka then levelled up, keeping themselves in the hunt by stealing outright victory during the second dramatic encounter in Spain.
Whilst the Pro-Am title will go down to the final round at Circuit Paul Ricard next month, Henry Hassid sewed up the Am class crown in style with a clean sweep of victories in Spain to seal the title.
Race 1 – PK Carsport Audi back on top
As the field got clean away for the first race of the penultimate round of the season, it was polesitter Elia Erhart that got the drop to take the LP Racing Audi into the lead and make good his escape. With Filip Sladecka and Nicolas Saelens following suit, the top three order remained unchanged until the pitstop window as they pulled a gap from the pursuing field.
The battle to watch was the fight for fifth, with Kevin Weeda in the Brabham Automotive Factory Racing BT63 GT2 Concept coming under intense pressure from Peter Guelinckx and Henry Hassid, producing a thrilling three-way battle for much of the opening stint.
Guelinckx was the first to try and find a way past Weeda, but a premature planting of his right foot resulted in a spin and drop of two places for the #81 PK Carsport Audi. That paved the way for Hassid to attack and finally make a move stick against Weeda’s stellar defence, just ahead of the pitstop window.
With the driver changes and compulsory pitstops complete, the order began to reshuffle.
The Brabham was the first to make its move with Anders Fjordbach charging from ninth to fifth, only for a track limits penalty to drop him back to sixth.
Whilst Erhart stayed out as long as possible, #11 PK Carsport car was among the first to pit, giving Stienes Longin the chance to close down the leaders. Chipping away at the Audi’s advantage, Stienes found a way past Michael Doppelmayr, now installed in the #18 car, to take up the lead.
Stefan Rosina, now in the #15 KTM, and Pirri in the #88 Audi immediately followed suit but hopes of a three-way fight to the flag were dashed when Rosina had to take a drive-through penalty for causing a collision earlier in his stint. Longin would remain unchallenged whilst Pirri enjoyed a clear run to the #88 car’s best finish of the season so far.
In a hectic final 15-minutes, attentions turned to the Am battle. As Doppelmayr relinquished to Bert Longin’s Pro-Am Audi for third overall, Hassid seized his opportunity to take win number five, passing the #18 Audi with just over eight minutes remaining. Hassid still had to fight for overall position to the flag, however, first with pressure from High Class Racing’s Michael Vergers and then, in the closing moments, from a recovering Rosina who nipped through to fourth overall.
With Hassid holding on to fifth, Fjordbach had to settle for sixth, whilst Vergers recovered to sixth after a track limits incursion. After leading for the opening stint, Erhart and Doppelmayr finished eighth, whilst Leonardo Gorini and the #16 KTM of Kris Rosenberger and Sehdi Sarmini completed the top 10.
Race 2 – KTM duo take maximum advantage
With the Brabham Automotive Factory Racing BT63 GT2 Concept on pole for race two, Fjordbach managed to get the jump to fend off the pair of PK Carsport Audis for the lead at the start of race two. Although the #1 Brabham and #11 Audi made an early break, Fjordbach had to work hard to pull out a gap before the compulsory pitstops.
Behind them the battle raged for third, with Bert Longin in the #81 Audi doing his all to keep both Rosina’s #15 KTM X-BOW and the High Class Racing Audi at bay right up until the pitstop window.
Unable to make headway, Rosina took the option to pit early and, once the stops were complete, rejoined in fourth with Weeda, now in the Brabham, staying ahead of the championship-leading Audi and High Class Racing car.
The order was short-lived, however, with the #1 car deeming to have taken a short pitstop, resulting in a stop-go penalty for Weeda just as the fight for the lead was reaching boiling point. A brake issue for the #1 car, however, resulted in a run wide for Weeda and subsequent retirement.
That left Saelens to take up the mantle, but with Sladecka taking the #5 Audi on its outlap, the #15 KTM was unleashed to go after the leader. Whilst Saelens looked to have the race under control, an uncharacteristic mistake with just two minutes remaining allowed the KTM to claim the car’s fourth win of the season and keep Rosina and Sladecka firmly in the Pro-Am title fight ahead of the final round.
The race for third went right down to the wire between the Audis of Vergers, Guelinckx and Stefano Costantini, the trio nose-to-tail until the penultimate lap when a tap from the LP Racing car sent Guelinckx into a spin, leaving the PK Carsport car to finish sixth.
Hassid convincingly led the Am class throughout the 50-minute encounter to finish fifth overall, in turn claiming the championship title with an impressive haul of six class wins, a pair of second places and a round to spare.
The #17 True Racing by Reiter Engineering KTM crew of Klaus Angerhofer and Hubert Trunkenpolz bounced back from race one retirement to finish second in Am, equalling their best result of the season so far. The sister #16 car of Kris Rosenberger and Sehdi Sarmini completed the Am podium, finishing eighth overall. Gorini’s LP Racing Porsche and Erhart in the #18 LP Racing Audi completed the top ten.
The final round of the Fanatec GT2 European Series will take place at Circuit Paul Ricard, 15-16 October.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group