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FFSA GT, Magny Cours – Race Report
An Outstanding Win For Larbre

For the FFSA GT Championship fifth round, the format was quite unusual: one race only – a two hour endurance race on the Sunday, with four mandatory pitstops.

The qualifying session, on Saturday, was very hard-fought and was dominated by the Audis R8 LMS. Eventually, Stéphane Ortelli (#25 Oreca R8 LMS) claimed the pole position. With a 1'38"957, he was three tenths ahead of Dino Lunardi (#16 Saintéloc Phoenix R8 LMS) and eight tenths ahead of Soheil Ayari (#26 Oreca R8 LMS). Anthony Beltoise was fourth quickest with the #10 LMP Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9, Greg Franchi (#37 WRT R8 LMS) fifth quickest and Renaud Derlot sixth quickest behind the wheel of the #17 Graff Racing Corvette Z06.

Dino Lunardi was the best starter and he passed the poleman Stéphane Ortelli.

At the end of first lap, Lunardi was in the lead, ahead of Ortelli, Ayari, Franchi (all with Audis), Beltoise, Andrea Piccini (#8 Saintéloc Phoenix R8 LMS) who had moved up through the field, Derlot, Panis (#1 DKR Engineering Corvette Z06), Groppi (#7 Larbre Compétition Porsche 911 GT3 R) who had gained six positions and Guilvert (#11 LMP Motorsport Aston Martin DBRS9).

At the front, the battle was rife. Lunardi and Ortelli were pushing very hard and widened the gap on their pursuers, setting a very strong pace. Groppi made some brilliant moves and was quickly in sixth place. Anthony Beltoise was first to pit (Nicolas Tardif in). The strategy was quite different among the teams as regards to the pitstops and the driver changes.

At mid-race, Franchi (one pitstop) was leading the race, ahead of Derlot (also one pitstop), Julien Canal (#9 Graff Racing Corvette Z06) who had pitted only once, Marc Sourd (two pitstops with the #16 Audi), David Hallyday (#25 Audi, 2 pitstops), Bruno Hernandez (#26 Audi), Groppi (2 pitstops), Merafina (#8 Audi), Cabanne (#64 Ruffier Lamborghini Gallardo, 1 pitstop) and Guilvert (2 pitstops).

Nicolas Tardif had to retire with a broken gearbox. At lap 51, Marc Sourd was leading, but he also had to stop with fuel problems, so David Hallyday became the new leader in the #25 Oreca Audi.

Patrick Bornhauser (#7 Larbre Porsche) was in second place, ahead of Hernandez, Stéphane Lemeret (#37 WRT Audi), Arnaud Peyroles (#17 Graff Corvette) and Kurt Mollekens (#27 WRT Audi). Within 18 minutes of the chequered flag, all these cars had pitted only three times, so they were due to stop once again very soon.

Following this last pitstop, Groppi (#7 Larbre Porsche) was the new leader, one second ahead of Ortelli (#25 Oreca Audi) who tried to come back.

However, two laps later (lap 62), when lapping Gérard Tonelli's #9 Graff Corvette, the Oreca Audi and the Corvette made contact. Tonelli retired with a broken wheel and Ortelli had to pit once more due to a puncture. In the last lap, Panis was very slow on the circuit with a broken engine.

Groppi and Bornhauser claimed an outstanding win, ahead of Ayari/Hernandez (#26 Oreca Audi R8 LMS), Franchi/Lemeret (#37 WRT Audi R8 LMS), Piccini/Merafina (#8 Saintéloc Phoenix Audi R8 LMS) and Derlot/Peyroles (#17 Graff Racing Corvette) who keep the lead in the championship standings.

Results - here

Standings - here

Claude Foubert