GT4 European Series (Misano) - A quite complicated Italian trip


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The second round of the GT4 European Series took place last weekend at the Misano circuit, in the province of Rimini on the Adriatic coast. Leading the Silver championship as they arrived in Italy, Matmut Évolution and the crew of Enzo Joulié and Etienne Cheli (#9) would see their advantage disappear during an overheated event. Finishing in sixth position in the category in Race 1, and then having had to retire the following day (due to a collision at the start of the race), the French pair, now second, are 8 points behind the leaders. In the second Toyota GR Supra GT4 EVO (#66), driven by the only 100% female line-up of the field, Gabriela Jilkova and Cindy Gudet, their weekend was also mixed, with a Top 5 Pro-AM finish on Saturday, and a retirement on Sunday after having been hit in the pit lane. The women are in fifth place in the Pro-AM championship. Some weekends are more complicated than others… The next rendez-vous (27th-30th June), on the spectacular and challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit, will be a major one, with the third round organised as part of the 24 Hours, the high point of the GT endurance season.

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The free practice sessions set the tone for this second meeting of the season, with no fewer than six cars within 0.1 seconds. The trend was confirmed in the hotly contested pre-qualifying session, which heralded a fierce battle in Qualifying. Enzo Joulié and Etienne Cheli (#9) finished P9 Silver, while Gabriela Jilkova and Cindy Gudet (#66) set the 12th time in Pro-AM.

With 49 cars on track on a layout of a little over 4 kilometres, the qualifying procedure was slightly modified in order to make the practice fairer and promote performance. The session was split into two groups. The first group was made up of the Silver drivers, while the second combined Pro-AM and AM. In Q1, the #9 was P18 Silver (P27 overall), while the #66 was P11 Pro-AM (P37 overall). Q2 saw them take 11th time in Silver and 7th in Pro-AM.

These highly contested sessions, marked by penalties for not respecting the track limits, hinted at close racing to come.

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RACE 1 – Preserving the essential!

The weather was especially mild for this first race, and the sun was present as the lights went green. Heading off the grid from, respectively, the 13th and 17th rows, Enzo Joulié (#9) and Gabriela Jilkova (#66), concentrated on their objective - to stay on track.

Although the field went through the Variante del Parco without issue, the first lap still finished with the intervention of the safety car. Enzo Joulié managed to take 4 places already. The restart relaunched the battle less than 15 minutes later. Enzo Joulié (P14 Silver) increased the rhythm, as did Gabriela Jilkova (P9 Pro-AM) who climbed up the ranks.

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Still attacking, Enzo Joulié provisionally set the best lap time of the race at the halfway mark. As the track limit warnings rained down (after 6 warnings, a drive-through penalty is given), the driver change would shuffle the deck.

With 14 minutes to go, Etienne Cheli (#9) was in the Top 10 Silver, getting championship points, as was Cindy Gudet (#66) who made it into the Pro-AM points. The ten final minutes were incredible. Punctures and drive-throughs upset the classification. Combative, Etienne Cheli crossed the line P6 Silver (and overall), having made one of the best climbs of the race, with 20 places taken and especially, 8 points scored, allowing them to keep the hold of championship lead provisionally. Cindy Gudet finished with a Top 5 Pro-AM (P19 overall) and 10 points.


From the first to the last lap, the race was very demanding and the pace was particularly high.

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RACE 2 – Double retirement and a huge disappointment

The weather was not the same as the previous day. The sun gave way to a heavy overcast sky. Better placed on the grid than for Race 1, respectively in P10 and P30 (P6 Pro-AM), Etienne Cheli and Cindy Gudet were ready to do battle.

One day might follow another, but no two are alike, and this time, it was turn 3 where a collision took place, which implicated Etienne Cheli (#9), damaging the front left, and from which he came out in 6th place. Cindy Gudet (#66) managed to avoid the commotion, and was in P8 Pro-AM.

Held up by a car ahead of him, Etienne Cheli saw the competition gaining on him. Falling to P7, then under threat from the #17 BMW who managed to overtake him, the #9 was P8 Pro-AM after 15 minutes of racing. With 34 minutes to go, Etienne was back in P6, before heading to the pits for the driver change, and Cindy Gudet followed suit.

Gabriela Jilkova got behind the wheel, headed into the pitlane, and got hit while she was still in the pits. The shock was hard enough that the Toyota GR Supra GT4 Evo, badly damaged, was running slow before retiring.

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For his part, Enzo Joulié took the wheel of the #9 just as they received a penalty of 5 seconds for having caused a collision (at the start of the race). With 23 minutes to go, the safety car came on track, he was running in P5. At the restart, while the gaps had disappeared, the French driver of the #9 (who celebrated his 20th birthday last week), headed on the hunt for the #17. But 7 minutes from the end of the race, as a consequence of the shock from the start, a socket broke and sent the #9 into the gravel pit at the Quercia corner, forcing them to retire.

In the provisional overall classification of the championship, Enzo Joulié and Etienne Cheli are now second with 52 points, 8 points from the leaders. Gabriela Jilkova and Cindy Gudet are for their part in the Pro-AM Top 5 with 31 points.

The next round, at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit (27-30 June) will be decisive for the rest of the championship. To be continued…

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