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Paul Ricard SRO Test Day One

The first day of the SRO test was played out roughly to expectations at Paul Ricard. Run in glorious sunshine all day, the GT3 balance of performance day was a cagey affair, as might be expected. It was the first chance for upgraded 2013 machinery to face up to each other, and be restricted and balanced for the season.

Top of the times were Boutsen Ginion Racing, with their McLaren. Frederic Vervisch’s name was posted against the time, though this was not confirmed. The upgraded MP4-12C, however, was not without troubles. A number of teams including Von Ryan, who missed the entire first session, and Hexis, struggled with electrical issues. Many were struggling to start. Hexis also reported two unrelated front punctures.

Pro GT by Almeras were second for Porsche, with similarly Stuttgart mounted SMG Challenge ending third. Ferrari were fourth with Kessel, the first Audi sixth with WRT and Marc VDS ended seventh for BMW. The Nissan GTR had its strongest ever run, finishing in ninth place and looking stronger.

Almost all of the top 20 were Blancpain Endurance Series entrants, with top FIA GT entry, in 11th, the GT Academy Nissan. The only other FIA GT runner in the top 20 was the second WRT car, which will likely enter both series.

There were four red flags during the session. The first was for the #39 Lorient Porsche Cup car, a guest on the entry, which suffered a puncture and some damage and was towed in. Just before lunch there was a second, as Klaas Hummel had a shunt in the Black Falcon Mercedes. The car, which had won the Dubai 24 Hours after being bought and rebuilt just before the race, was not expected to take any further part in this test as the damage was too extensive. An interesting history for that chassis!

A small issue for Haribo Racing Team’s 997 saw them stop and being out the fourth drapeau rouge, though the team were not willing to divulge the cause of the stoppage. A sweet touch was the invitation extended by the team to British GT Champion and Chupa Chups’ Danielle Perfetti. The Swiss will not race for the team this season, instead concentrating on the Renault Megane Eurocup, but was suited and booted in the garage.

The final stoppage was for the Team Ukraine/AF Corse Ferrari, which had a sizeable accident which saw the car fairly heavily damaged. It is unlikely the car will make it out tomorrow.

JY / images: Eric Fabre