The Dijon-Prenois Circuit (France) welcomed the Fanatec GT2 European Series for the very first time. On this 3.888 km track, made up of quick corners and elevation changes, everyone was expecting some great battles in the field.
Although the previous round at the Red Bull Ring (Austria) allowed Mauro and Benjamin Ricci to impose themselves for their first race in the championship with their brand new Mercedes-AMG GT2, the pressure remained high in Burgundy for this home race. At the heart of an ultra-competitive field, with a victory and a fourth place in Austria, the Ricci father and son duo have placed themselves as serious contenders for the Pro-Am title.
As of Friday morning, the Free Practice sessions allowed many drivers to discover the track. It was heavy and hot, which bothered both the drivers and the cars. Benjamin and Mauro Ricci finished the session fifth in their category in the #61 Mercedes AMG GT2. In the afternoon, for the second session, they were fourth. The Qualifying session was heavily disputed and closely fought all over the track. Mauro set the 9th time (P6 Pro-AM) in the first session, and Benjamin was 8th in the second session a little later. There was going to be a battle ahead…
RACE 1: A breath away from victory!
At this hot and demanding Burgundy circuit, managing the tyres would be one of the key factors in finishing well. This was a fact well taken into consideration by the crew that was present on the grid.
Mauro was the first to take the wheel. As of the start of this 50’ race, the rhythm was intense. Having started P9, and after a period under safety-car, the Akkodis ASP Team driver found himself, thanks to his efforts, fighting to hold onto sixth place, but was overtaken by the #17 KTM just before the mandatory pitstop.
Benjamin Ricci took to the track in P8 (P4 Pro-AM) and attacked strongly from the start to climb up the classification. As the laps and incidents went by, with 20’ from the end, the driver of the #61 was running in P4 (P3 Pro-AM). The fight for second place intensified between the #17 and #10 and Benjamin made the most to head into P3 (P2 Pro-AM). Running at an incredible pace for his whole stint, Benjamin was P2 two minutes from the chequered flag, just 3 seconds off the leader. The leading KTM took the race and the #61 Mercedes-AMG GT2 finished second (P2 Pro-AM) at the end of a magnificent performance and a well-managed race.
RACE 2: Between performance and regrets.
In the second race, starting P8, Benjamin Ricci adopted a steady pace right away, running in “attack” mode. Incisive and efficient, he wasted no time in taking back a few positions. While the two leading cars were having a relatively calm race by widening the gap, behind them, the battle raged on. Very concentrated, Benjamin managed his tyres and his trajectories with precision so as to no jeopardise the second relay.
The driver change was perfectly executed and Mauro was back on track in P5. Under pressure from his adversaries, he put up a good resistance and a good fight. Running perfectly in the rhythm, Mauro was third with 11’ to go. The pressure was still on and during the last ten minutes, Mauro was struck by the #15 who pushed the #61 Mercedes-AMG into a spin in the Pouas corner (the #15 would be penalised for causing the collision). The #61 managed to get going again, crossing the line in P9. A lot of championship points evaporated and left behind some big regrets.
The half-way mark of the season has been crossed. In Portugal, at the Portimao circuit, the competitors of the Fanatec GT2 European Series will tackle the fourth round of the championship.