GT World Challenge Europe: ROWE-BMW beats Iron Lynx-Lamborghini at Paul Ricard, Dutch success in Silver and Bronze Cups

GT World Challenge Europe: ROWE-BMW beats Iron Lynx-Lamborghini at Paul Ricard, Dutch success in Silver and Bronze Cups

Monza is normally the first of the season, but due to renovations there, Paul Ricard was allowed to host the first race of 2024.

Circuit Paul Ricard opened the new season of Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS this Sunday with the three-hour Endurance Cup race. A full, competitive field of no less than 54 GT3 cars took part in the south of France. Augusto Farfus, Dan Harper and Max Hesse took their first ever win with ROWE Racing BMW. Mirko Bortolotti, Matteo Cairoli and Andrea Caldarelli had plenty of power from their Iron Lynx Lamborghini, but still had to concede their superiority in the number 998-M4. Dutch duo Colin Caresani and Daan Pijl (Winward Racing) won the Silver Cup. In the Bronze Cup, Job van Uitert finished on the podium with the all-new Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 Evo.

Text: Vincent Bruins (X: @VincentJBruins)
Photo: SRO (Jacob Ebrey)

Bortolotti retained the lead at the start ahead of the Porsche of Ayhancan Güven (Schumacher CLRT) and the Mercedes-AMG of Jules Gounon (GetSpeed). Behind them, Christian Engelhart (GRT Grasser Racing Team) spun and Mark Radcliffe (Optimum Motorsport) and Michele Beretta (Haupt Racing Team) collided in the mess, causing damage. Farfus passed Gounon on the long Mistral straight. There was a brief period for the Safety Car debris on the track to be replaced a second time when the amber Safety Car lights on the straightaway failed to go out. After the restart, the Team WRT BMWs of Maxime Martin and Charles Weerts moved up to fourth and fifth in a battle with Gounon and the Ferrari of Alessio Rovera (AF Corse). The Safety Car was deployed for the third time when Benji Goethe (Garage 159) retired and was stopped by the Aston Martin of David Pittard (Walkenhorst Motorsport) catching fire. Weerts suffered a flat tire and a loose ball caused multiple bodywork fractures and a retirement.

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Hartog in his Bronze Cup Porsche in eighth place overall among all Pro cars

During the first neutralization planned pit stop and driver changes were made. Dorian Boccolacci (Schumacher CLRT) ended up ahead of Caldarelli and briefly took the lead. However, the Frenchman had picked up the cable and was flagged for the meatball. The Porsche of Boccolacci, Güven and Laurin Heinrich fell back after the mandatory pit stop and eventually finished fourteenth. Caldarelli was first again on the restart, but after almost half an hour of pressure from Harper, the ROWE Racing BMW took the lead after being lapped by Beausset. Hesse came in last and only increased the lead. Farfus, Harper and Hesse were the first to see the checkered flag, 13 seconds ahead of Bortolotti, Cairoli and Caldarelli.

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Farfus, Harper and Hesse took their first ever win in the Endurance Cup

Gounon, Fabian Schiller and Luca Stolz didn’t have the pace to compete at the front, but they rode flawlessly and that put them last on the podium. Raffaele Marciello (WRT Team) overtook Sven Müller (Rutronik Racing) on ​​the final lap to take fourth alongside Martin and Valentino Rossi. Alex Aka, Ricardo Feller and Christopher Haase (Tresor Attempto Racing) slowly but surely came to the front, finishing sixth ahead of Mattia Drudi, Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim (Comtoyou Racing), and Klaus Bachler, Alex Malykhin and Joel Sturm (Pure Rxing). ) Alessandro Pier Guidi, Davide Rigon and Rovera dropped to ninth, but were still just ahead of the only Ford Mustang GT3 in the field, the Proton Racing car of Christopher Mies, Dennis Olsen and Frédéric Vervisch.

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Despite the loss of factory support from Audi Sport, the R8 LMS Evo II is still proving to be competitive in the hands of Saintéloc Racing.

In the Gold Cup, Paul Evrard, Gilles Magnus and Jim Pla (Saintéloc Racing) won after passing Dominik Baumann, Mikaël Grenier and Al Faisal Al Zubair (AlManar Racing by GetSpeed) in the middle of the race. Romain Carton, Adam Eteki and Arthur Rougier (CSA Racing) completed the podium in that class. In the Silver Cup, Ivan Klymenko, Alban Varutti and Ugo de Wilde (Race Saintéloc) pushed forward, but their Audi suffered technical problems at the end of the race. Patrick Assenheimer and Ezequiel Pérez Companc (Madpanda Motorsport) at the time seemed to have the upper hand, but in the end they had to settle for third place. The class win went to Caresani and Pijl, the latter competing under the name ‘Daan Arrow’. They shared their car with Tanart Sathienthirakul and beat another Mercedes-AMG of César Gazeau, Roee Meyuhas and Aurélien Panis (Boutsen VDS). Jop Rappange, together with Marius Nakken and Christopher Zöchling, finished seventh in the Silver Cup behind the wheel of the Dinamic GT-Porsche.

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Caresani, Arrow and Sathienthirakul chasing victory in the Silver Cup

19 cars competed in the Bronze Cup, a class in which the Amateur (Bronze) shares a car with the Junior (Silver) and the Professional (Gold or Platinum). Louis Prette (Garage 59) started the race from pole in the class, but after less than half an hour he was overtaken by GT World Challenge starter Loek Hartog (Rutronik Racing). The Dutchman was so fast that he entered the top ten during his performance. Dustin Blattner took the Porsche and was overtaken midway through the race by Niccolò Schirò (Kessel Racing) and Toby Sowery (Century Motorsport), but the BMW would later retire with a technical problem. Prette’s team-mate James Cottingham also began to work his way back through the field.

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The Ferrari 296 GT3 showed strength in the Bronze Cup thanks to Kessel Racing and AF Corse

After the last pit stop, David Fumanelli, Nicolò Rosi and Schiro increased their lead and took the Bronze Cup victory. Andrea Bertolini and father-and-son Louis and Jef Machiels (AF Corse) made it a one-two for Ferrari. Van Uitert (Comtoyou Racing) won another trophy with P3 in class alongside Kobe Pauwels and John de Wilde. Morris Schuring (Herberth Motorsport) also made his GT World Challenge debut and finished seventh in the Bronze Cup with Ralf Bohn and Robert Renauer. Dennis Marschall’s disappointing position ensured that Blattner and Hartog took the final step in P10. Mex Jansen (Walkenhorst Motorsport) finished thirteenth in class after teammate Tim Creswick was pitted early in the race.

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After six years in prototypes, Van Uitert made his debut behind the wheel of a GT car and he was successful.


We’ll have to wait nearly three months for the next Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup event powered by AWS, but it’ll be worth the wait as it’s the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa on June 29 and 30. Before that happens, eyes will first be on the season opener of the Sprint Cup at Brands Hatch on May 5 and also the second round of the Sprint Cup at Misano Adriatico later that month.