The combined GT4 Southern Cup and FFSA French GT cup’s first season came to a nail-biting end this weekend, with Drivers and Team Championships being decided in the very final race.
As Las Moras Racing Team swept both races, McLaren was the fourth make to win this season after BMW, Ginetta, Porsche and BMW. The Drivers’ Pro-Am Championship went to Gilles Parisy and Gilles Vannnelet (above) a French line-up that surprisingly never made the top of podium this season.
Speed Car and CMR won the Teams’ Pro-Am and Am Championships respectively, a clear tribute to the speed and reliability of the Ginetta G55.
The GT4 Southern Cup’s finale in Le Castellet featured a healthy 32-car grid, including the #99 Las Moras Racing Team McLaren 570S that recently won the Teams’ GT4 Northern Cup Pro/Am title. The track was in a 5.8km configuration with a chicane in the Mistral straight.
Race 1: Las Moras Racing Team McLaren 570 S Dominates the Pro-Am Category, and CMR Sweeps the Am Class.
Max Braams took pole in the #99 Las Moras Racing Team McLaren 570 S (2:16.615), ahead of the #64 Vic Team Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR driven by Olivier Jouffret (2:17.288) and the #888 Ekris Motorsport BMW M4 EKRIS with Max Koebol at the wheel (2:17.317). In the Am category, the championship leader, the #111 CMR Ginetta G55 driven by Stephane Tribaudini, set fastest lap (2:18.354), ahead of Scott Maxwell in the #46 Ford Performance Ford Mustang (2:18.745).
Vic Team missed the deadline for sending its two cars to the starting grid. As a result, Am Championship contender Paul Lamic in the #54 Ginetta G55 and Olivier Jouffret in the #64 started the race from the pits. The other cars took a clean start. Braams had an easy time keeping the lead ahead of Frederic Johais in the #9 BMW Team France and Drivers Pro-Am Championship leader Robert Consani in the #8 Speed Car Ginetta G55.
The #888 driven by Max Koebolt was fourth at the end of the first lap. Koebolt nonetheless managed to make it to second position in the following two laps. The Dutchman then went on to challenge the #99 for the lead. 20 minutes into the race, however, the front left suspension of the #888 broke down as the car was breaking before the Mistral straight chicane and ended up retiring.
From that point on, three cars fought for second position: the #8, the #9 and the #10 Equipe Versschuur McLaren 570 S driven by Csaba Mor. After mid-race driver changes, the #8 kept losing ground as mechanical problems slowed it down. In the last 15 minutes of the race, Julien Piguet in the #9 and Finlay Hutchinson at the wheel of the #10 kept battling against each other, but the latter lost control of his car as he was breaking for the Mistral straight chicane. He ended up losing two positions to the #64 driven by Eric Tremoulet and Jim Pla in the #1 Racing Technology Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR. A lap later, the #10 made contact with the #1 in the same corner. Both cars were damaged and retired.
The #99 Las Moras Racing Team McLaren 570 S driven by Duncan Huisman cruised to its first victory in the GT4 Southern Cup, some ten seconds ahead of the #9 BMW Team France MBW M4 EKRIS and the #64 Vic Team Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR. The #30 CD Sport Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR driven by Mike Parisy and Gilles Vannelet earned fourth position after Benjamin Lariche in the #8 took a two-second penalty for exceeding track limits.
Meanwhile, in the Am category, the #46 Ford Performance Ford Mustang led the beginning of the race but retired before the drivers change due to a mechanical failure.
From that point on, Stephane Tribaudini and Michael Petit had an easy time leading the race, while their immediate competition for the Championship, the #666 CMR Ginetta G55 driven by Fabien Michal and Georges Cabanne, encountered technical issues and finished the race in sixth place.
Race 2: Second Consecutive Wins for Las Moras Racing Team and CMR; Parisy-Vannelet, Tribaudini, Speed Car and CMR Crowned 2017 GT4 European Series Southern Cup Champions
In the final race of the GT4 Southern Cup Season, all eyes were on the battle between the #30 CD Sport Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR and the #8 Speed Car Ginetta G55. Both cars started the race with an even number of points, meaning that whomever finished ahead of the other would very likely sweep the Pro-Am Drivers’Championship.
The #30 had the upper hand after the qualifying session, with Parisy starting the race in third position as Consani in the #8 was far behind in the seventh row. Meanwhile, pole was set by Julien Piguet in the #9 BMW Team France BMW M4 EKRIS (2:15.554), ahead of Duncan Huisman in the #99 Las Moras Racing Team McLaren 570S (2:15.986).
The race started with an incident involving the #26 CMR Ginetta G55 driven by Soheil Ayari and Morgan Moulin-Traffort in the #31 CD Sport Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR. This unfortunately also had an impact on Robert Consani, who drove his damaged Ginetta G55 beyond 20th position just one lap into the race.
At the head of the race, Parisy concluded its initial race lap in second position behind the #9 and ahead of the #99. The Frenchman opted for a conservative race, especially since his car seemed to be losing power. He did little to defend his position, which he lost to the #99 and to Ricardo Van Der Ende in the #888 Ekris Motorsport BMW M4 EKRIS very early on.
The top three cars (the #9, the #99 and the #888) remained within a couple of seconds of each other until the mid-race driver change, which they all made at the same time. At the exit of the pits, the #18 Martinet By Almeras Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR driven by Henry Hassid first overtook the #888 and then the #9 after the latter lost the lead to the #99.
The #99, the #18 and the #888 remained within less than two seconds of each other all the way up to the chequered flag. Far behind the leaders, Gilles Vannelet in the #30 managed to finish his race in fifth position, and Benjamin Lariche in the #8 finished in eighth position. With this result, Parisy/Vannelet took the 2017 Pro-Am Drivers’ GT4 European Series Championship, and Speed Car and Ginetta took the Team’s championship.
In the Am Category, Stephane Tribaudini and Alain Petit in the #111 CMR Ginetta G55 faced very little competition and won. In its second season, Stephane Tribaudini took the Am Drivers GT4 Series Championship, while CMR and Ginetta took the Team’s championship.