Fanatec GT2 European Series - Spa (Belgium) A victory and two podiums AM


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The third round of the GT2 European Series took place last weekend during the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Spa, the legendary GT race (which was won in 2022 by Akkodis ASP Team). A great entry list, with 33 drivers and 19 cars, marked the return of the GT2 cars to the Belgian Ardennes after a two-year absence. Akkodis ASP Team, with their two teams entered in AM, is particularly familiar with the layout and did not miss out on the opportunity. In the first race, Gilles Vannelet and Jean-Luc Beaubelique placed their #87 Mercedes-AMG GT2 on the third step of the podium, while Pascal Gibon and Christophe Bourret (#53) were hit from behind on the first lap, they managed to save a small point in the championship. The next day, the second race saw the first 1-2 for the team, with another AM victory on the counter for the #87 (P2 overall), followed like a shadow onto the second place on the podium of the category by the #53 (P5 overall). Currently leading the AM championship, in both the teams and drivers categories, Akkodis ASP Team is now heading into the second part of the season, where they will visit Germany and the Hockenheim circuit for the fourth round, on the 20th and 21st of July.

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Taking place during the weekend of the 24 Hours of Spa, the GT2 European Series benefited from the activities organised for the event, including taking part in the famous parade, from the track to the town centre of Spa on the Wednesday before the event. A special moment to share with the fans who turned out in force.

As of the free practice sessions, it was time to get down to serious business on the 7km circuit.  At ease with their 700hp, the two Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG GT2 adapted quickly to the track by setting the 3rd best time in the #53 (Christophe Bourret) and 4th time for the #87 (Gilles Vannelet).

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In the Pre-Qualifying session, Gilles Vannelet (#87) was P3 AM and Christophe Bourret (#53) P5. Taking into account the very fickle weather at Spa, the pre-qualifying session allowed to set a starting grid, just in case it would be impossible to run the qualifying sessions.

When it was time for Qualifying, the temperature was 21°C and a humidity factor of over 80%; there was no doubt, we were in Spa. The first session allowed Pascal Gibon (#53) to take the 3rd place in AM (P8 overall), just ahead of Gilles Vannelet (#87). The second session was even more intense. Jean-Luc Beaubelique finished P4 AM and Christophe Bourret was P8.

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Race 1 – Heated race and AM podium for the #87

The sun was present for the start of the first race. It was a bit fresh out, but it was plenty hot enough under the helmets, and as of the first corner, things heated up.

At the La Source corner, at the end of the straight, there was a collision that caught up a few cars, including Pascal Gibon’s #53 Merdeces-AMG, who was violently hit from the rear. Having started P8 on the grid, he fell to P15 but managed to join the track.

Avoiding the incident, Gilles Vannelet (#87) had a remarkable start and climbed quickly from 14th place on the grid into the Top 6. Keeping a high pace, after a few laps, the driver of the #87 left his adversaries behind and took 4th place in the Kemmel straight. Not losing any steam, he continued right up into 2nd place in AM (P3 overall). Pascal Gibon (#53) was also striving to stay on course. Having made it back into P12 (P8 AM), the robust Mercedes-AMG GT2 and its driver did not give up.

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When it was time for the driver change, Jean-Luc Beaubelique (#87) took the wheel and the battle continued. For Christophe Bourret (#53) the climb back up the field was rewarded by an 11th place.  Jean-Luc Beaubelique fought like a devil to hold onto the AM podium. What’s more, because their pit stop was too short, the #87 got a 12s penalty that would be handed out after the finish. It looked like the AM podium was lost. Jean-Luc was under pressure for the last laps of the race. Facing off strong opponents, the #87 crossed the finish line in 7th place, P2 AM, which turned into P3 with the penalty. The podium and the points to go with it were saved.

For the #53, the last laps were less festive. Christophe Bourret, in 11th place a few minutes from the finish, received a technical flag from race direction, forcing him to head to the pits for lack of rear lights, which was judged too dangerous (a consequence from the collision at the start of the race). Not leaving the pits again, the #53 was nevertheless classified P14 (P9 AM) for having completed 75% of the distance. A point for the championship was saved!

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Race 2 - A perfect 1-2!

The second race, on Saturday morning, had a calmer start than the race from the previous day, but that did not prevent competitors from defending their positions dearly.

Having started in P11 and P15, Jean-Luc Beaubelique (#87) and Christophe Bourret (#53) were on the offence, even though managing their car’s power was not always easy.

When it was time for the driver change, Jean-Luc was in P3 AM and Christophe P6. The pitstops were perfectly executed and timed to a high level of precision.

In the last 15 minutes of the race, Gilles Vannelet (#87) was in P2 AM (P8 overall) just ahead of his teammate, Pascal Gibon, in the #53. The end of the race was frantic.

Keeping up an excellent pace, Gilles made the most of his machine and the track conditions to take 2s per lap off the class leader. With 8 minutes to go, he took the lead in AM and kept it, finishing the race P2 overall, also winning a victory in the Iron Cup (for the best placed crew aged 100 years or over combined, in both categories). Pascal Gibon was not to be outdone either, making a winning comeback to take second place in AM, P5 overall.

Having crossed the half-way mark of the season, the Fanatec GT2 European Series will be heading to Germany (Hockenheim) for the fourth round of the season, from the 19th to the 21st of July.


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