Rennhofer and Sasse bounce back to win race two at Circuit Paul Ricard

Rennhofer and Sasse bounce back to win race two at Circuit Paul Ricard

+PROVISIONAL RESULT: Race 2, Circuit Paul Ricard

After suffering the disappointment of retirement from Saturday’s opening contest, PROsport Racing Aston Martin drivers Raphael Rennhofer and Hugo Sasse enjoyed the perfect recovery on Sunday, taking victory in the final race of the weekend at Circuit Paul Ricard.

The result capped a challenging weekend for the team, which was first forced to switch its #100 Vantage for a spare chassis after engine failure on Friday, and then had to work to repair the #99 car following its dramatic suspension failure that cost Rennhofer and Sasse a potential podium in race one. There would be no such upset this time, the duo scoring a big win to kick-start their campaign.

Aleksandr Vaintrub and Stanislav Safronov may have held off the charging #30 W&S Motorsport Porsche to secure a second Pro-Am win of the weekend on the road in their Mirage Racing Aston Martin, but a post-race penalty reversed the places and handed the win to Funn Zulauf and Max Kronberg. Schumacher CLRT celebrated a dominant double with Laurent Hurgon and Pascal Huteau in Am.

PROsport’s Sunday looked bright when the team locked out the front row in qualifying, with Hendrik Still putting the spare car on pole and Rennhofer lining up alongside him. With the engine in his usual #100 car ready for Sunday, Still took the start in the familiar orange Vantage and led the field down to turn one.

Rennhofer didn’t get the best start and was shuffled as far back as fifth at one point, before recovering to re-pass a handful of cars. He ran third by the time the pit window opened, diving in at the first opportunity to swap with Sasse.

Sasse’s out-lap was good enough to ensure he slipped past the race-one-winning Matmut Évolution Toyota of Etienne Cheli and Enzo Joulié to run second, and he inherited the lead when Still and team-mate Fabio Rauer endured a slow pit stop.

Once out front, there would be no catching Sasse, as second-placed Joulié had his mirrors filled with the Elite Motorsport McLaren driven by Josh Rattican, who charged onto the Toyota’s tail in the closing minutes but couldn’t find a way past. Second place was enough to ensure that Cheli and Joulié leave round one with the Silver championship lead.

Rauer and Still recovered to finish fourth, with Ricardo van der Ende and Benjamin Lessennes fifth for L’Espace Bienvenue BMW. Reigning champion Gabriele Piana and Berkay Besler pulled off an incredible recovery from an early spin that dropped them outside the top 30 to finish sixth in their Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport M4.

Pro-Am featured a stunning finish as the Mirage Racing Aston Martin and W&S Motorsport Porsche 718 Cayman were separated by under half a second at the end, with the Aston ahead... until the post-race stewards room. Aleksandr Vaintrub kept the Aston well ahead in the first half, with pole-sitter Max Kronberg falling back to third in the Porsche. But the fight ignited in the late stages when Safronov found himself stuck in traffic with Kronberg’s team-mate Finn Zulauf crawling all over him. Safronov managed to hang on, but in doing so was deemed to have forced another driver off the track through traffic. So although the car took the flag first, the positions were reversed later with Zulauf and Kronberg scoring the win, a result that ties them on points with the Mirage crew. The AV Racing Porsche shared by Noam Abramczyk and Paul Petit trailed the top two home to complete the class podium.

Laurent Hurgon and Pascal Huteau kept up their fine form in Am, taking a clean sweep of both pole positions and both wins in their Schumacher CLRT Alpine. Hurgon was long gone from his rivals in the first half before Huteau brought it home. The best fight was for second when the NM Racing Team Mercedes-AMG of Dilantha Malagamuwa and Andy Cantu managed to pass the Team Speedcar Audi of Nicolas Markiewicz and Adrien Paviot late on. 

The GT4 European Series Powered by RAFA Racing Club is back in action at Misano in Italy on May 17-19.