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GT Tour, Val de Vienne – Race Reports
A Second Win for Beltoise-Hassid
 
After Lédenon and Dijon, Val de Vienne on June 23 & 24 was the third meeting of the GT Tour season. After four races, the standings were close: Laurent Pasquali and Frank Perera (Porsche 997 GT3 R / Pro-GT by Almeras) led with 64 pts and two wins, only one point ahead of Olivier Panis and Eric Debard (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 / Team Sofrev-ASP), without a win so far but with three podiums over four races.
 
Sébastien Loeb's new team has been successful in ELMS and also in GT Tour: the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMGT GT3 driven by Gilles Vannelet and Frédéric Gabillon had accumulated 54 pts, followed by Ludovic Badey and Jean-Luc Beaubelique (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 / Team Sofrev-ASP). Having left Lédenon without scoring any points, Anthony Beltoise and Henry Hassid forgot their bad start to the season with a win, a third place and a place in the top 5 in the standings at Dijon. Let's not forget also Grégory Guilvert and Paul Lamic (Audi R8 LMS ultra / Saintéloc), first winners of the year.
 
The qualifying sessions took place on the Saturday morning, and both pole positions were set by Pro GT by Alméras drivers; Jean-Claude Police for the first race and Anthony Beltoise for the second.

Race 1

The first race began later that day in eventful fashion. Two Pro GT Porsches were on the front row, but Gilles Vannelet, breaking a little too late, jumped from fifth place to the lead after the first corner. When the dust cloud moved away, Bruno Hernandez's Audi lay in the gravel, damaged enough to end its race. The two Sofrev-ASP Ferraris wouldn’t be going further than this first lap either.

Vannelet resisted Hassid's pressure until the sixth lap, after which the Porsche driver increased the gap while Vannelet tries to fend off David Hallyday's Audi France R8 LMS ultra. The seven leading cars were covered by just eight seconds.
 
After the driver changes, Sébastien Loeb Racing was back in the lead, this time with Gabillon at the wheel, followed by Ortelli (Audi R8 LMS ultra / Audi France) and Beltoise, who closed the gap.

Ortelli tried to take the lead, but was himself overtaken by Beltoise, who took the lead three laps later.

His subsequent drive to the chequered flag was without further threat, while Gabillon resisted Ortelli until the end of the race.

Panis & Debard assumed the lead in the standings after finishing sixth, while Pasquali & Perera were two places behind.
 
In the GT French Cup, the Pouchelon Viper retired with a broken engine and Buffin-Ullmann led the entire race.

Race 2
 
The second race on the  Sunday saw Beltoise, starting from pole, taking the lead at the start, followed by Badey, Panis and Moullin-Traffort; so a Porsche followed by three Sofrev-ASP Ferraris.

As was the case the day before, Beltoise was the quickest of the field and led easily until the driver change.

Behind the three Ferraris, three Audi R8s were fighting each other, with Ortelli, Guilvert and Lunardi at the wheel.

After his big crash during practice on Friday with Sébastien Loeb Racing’s Mercedes, Gabillon started only 13th on the grid but managed to climb into the top 10. Unfortunately, a technical problem, not disclosed by the team, ended the car’s race.


Badey and Panis after the driver changes


Lunardi gives the wheel to Hernandez

With the help of the time penalties, the three Sofrev-ASP Ferraris moved ahead of the Porsche after the driver changes, with Beaubelique leading from Debard and Barthez (the former goalkeeper of the French World Cup–winning side of 1998. How this team has changed since!).


Beltoise during the second half of the race

Twenty minutes before the end, Hassid recovered part of the ground lost because of the time penalty when he overtook Barthez. Would he be able to overtake the two others 458s before the end of the race?

We’ll never know, as Hernandez continued his grim weekend by hitting the Armco and (with Pasquali also crashing out) causing the race to be red-flagged.
 
Beaubelique and Badey thus took their first win of the year and Jérôme Policand, Sofrev-ASP’s team owner, made it a 1-2.

With their second place Debard and Panis increased their lead in the standings and - after a weekend as good as that of Dijon - Hassid and Beltoise climbed to second place.
 
1. Debard-Panis (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 / Sofrev-ASP), 89 pts
2. Hassid-Beltoise (Porsche 997 GT3 R / Pro GT by Alméras), 80 pts
3. Vannelet-Gabillon (Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 / Sébastien Loeb Racing), 72 pts
4. Pasquali-Perera (Porsche 997 GT3 R / Pro GT by Alméras), 68 pts
5. Beaubelique-Badey (Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 / Team Sofrev-ASP), 66 pts
 
Race 1 result - here

Race 2 result - here

David Legangneux