Fanatec GT2 European Series - Misano (Italy) - Akkodis ASP Team stays in the game!


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The third and fourth rounds of the GT2 European Series took place last weekend in Italy, at the Misano circuit, not far from the famous seaside resort of Rimini. Having arrived leading the AM category (teams and drivers) with Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Gilles Vannelet (#87), and P4 for Pascal Gibon and Christophe Bourret (#53), Akkodis ASP Team did not manage to score the points needed to keep their position against formidable opponents. Despite a podium in Race 1, after retiring at the start of Race 2, the crew of the #87 fell to third place in the championship (11 points behind the leader), ahead of their teammates in the #53. In the Pro-AM category, despite a high level of performance, Mauro Ricci and Ludovic Badey (#61) were really unlucky, retiring out of both races and not scoring any points. Overall, the Italian trip will be hopefully quickly forgotten. Next step, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on the 28th and 29th of June, during the weekend of the 24 Hours of Spa, the crowning event of GT Endurance.

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The Pre-qualifying session allowed Mauro Ricci and Ludovic Badey (#61), who replaced Benjamin Ricci at this round, to get into the overall Top 5 (P3 Pro-AM), closely followed by Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Gilles Vannelet (#87) P3 in AM. On board the #53, Pascal Gibon and Christophe Bourret finished the session P1 (P5 AM).

The qualifying sessions were a hard fought affair, marked by penalties for not respecting track limits, which shook up the classification for the first 10 minutes. During Q1, Gilles Vannelet (#87) finished P2 overall and in AM, while Mauro Ricci (#61) was P6 (P3 Pro-AM) and Pascal Gibon (#53) P8 (P5 AM).

In Q2, Ludovic Badey (#61) entered into the overall Top 5 (also Pro-AM). Jean-Luc Beaubelique (#87) set the ninth time (P4 AM), and Christophe Bourret set the sixth time in the category.

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RACE 1 – Another AM podium (P2) for Beaubelique-Vannelet!

The first race of the weekend took place at the end of the day beneath a bright sun that lit up the track. Under the helmets, the drivers were determined and knew their instructions.

From the front row (P2), Gilles Vannelet (#87) managed his start perfectly and took the opportunity at the first corner to take the lead. Quickly under attack from the #2 Maserati, the Frenchman put up a strong resistance. When the safety car came on track, the Akkodis ASP Team Mercedes-AMG was leading, while Mauro Ricci (#61) was P6, and Pascal Gibon (#53) P9. Shortly after the restart, Mauro Ricci, attacked from all sides, fell down a place, while Pascal Gibon took one back.

Still leading, Gilles Vannelet attempted to widen the gap, but the #2 did not let up the pressure, and after 20 minutes of racing, the poleman took the lead again. Mauro Ricci was in the Pro-AM Top 3, while Pascal Gibon was in the AM Top 5.

Mauro Ricci was the first to head to the pits for the driver change, handing over the wheel to Ludovic Badey. Sadly, the #61 was not on track for long. By trying to avoid a collision with #812, the Akkodis ASP Team Mercedes-AMG was pushed off trajectory, with a burst tyre (rear left) and damage to the front axle. They made it back to the pits, but the state the car was in left no chance of rejoining the race, and they were forced to abandon.

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While the race leader was getting away, Jean-Luc Beaubelique followed Gilles Vannelet in the #87, P2 overall and leading AM. Under pressure from fierce competitors, Jean-Luc was caught off guard in turn 4 and was overtaken by two cars simultaneously, including one AM that took the leadership from him. Now in the Top 5 overall and second AM, Jean-Luc held onto his position until the chequered flag, giving the team another podium.

At the end of his stint, Christophe Bourret passed the wheel to Pascal Gibon for the second part of the sprint race. Immediately adopting an assertive pace, Pascal fought to regain his position in the face of fierce competition. In the end, the #53 crossed the line P6 of the category (P9 overall).

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RACE 2 – A race to forget…

Sunday morning, the sun gave way to a cloudy and heavy sky, very different conditions to the previous day.

For this second race of the weekend, Ludovic Badey (#61) P5, Jean-Luc Beaubelique (#87) P9 and Christophe Bourret (#53) P14, were at the starting blocks.

As the lights went green, everyone headed into the Variante del Parco, the first set of turns of the track. By trying to slide up the inside of the corner, Jean-Luc Beaubelique (#87) could not avoid contact and took three other cars into the collision with him, including his teammate, Ludovic Badey (#61), a collateral victim of the manoeuvre. With a damaged front axle, the #87 could not restart, while the #61 stopped a few meters further.

Having managed to avoid the collision, Christophe Bourret (#53) was the only one left running of the Akkodis ASP Team in Race 2.

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After the intervention of the safety car, the race restarted, as did the battle at the front. At the driver change, Pascal Gibon took the second stint, first placing the #53 in the Top 5 and then crossing the chequered flag in P4 AM, P8 overall.

In the general classification of the AM Championship, having arrived as leaders, Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Gilles Vannelet are now third with 62 points, 11 points behind the leader. Retiring in the second race really cost them dearly. Fourth in the classification, Pascal Gibon and Christophe Bourret have 42 points.

The 5th and 6th rounds of the GT2 European Series will take place on the 28th and 29th of June at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit during the weekend of the 24 Hours of Spa. There will be plenty to look forward to at this demanding track.

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