Lessennes and van der Ende deny Team Speedcar Audi in breathless finish to Misano race two

Lessennes and van der Ende deny Team Speedcar Audi in breathless finish to Misano race two

+ L’Espace Bienvenue BMW team wins after Team Speedcar penalty
+ Abramczyk and Petit make it four winners from four races in Pro-Am
+ Hurgon and Huteau strike back in Am for Schumacher CLRT
+ Provisional result: Race 2, Misano 

Benjamin Lessennes and Ricardo van der Ende celebrated their first GT4 European Series Powered by RAFA Racing Club win of the season in race two at Misano, snatching the glory from the Team Speedcar Audi in a breathless finish.

While Robert Consani and Benjamin Lariche led almost the entire race in the Audi, contact between Lariche and Berkay Besler in the second-placed Borusan Otomotiv BMW earned Lariche a 10 second penalty. Then when Besler suffered a puncture on the last lap, it became a straight fight between Lariche and Lessennes, who inherited second. Lariche needed to pull a 10-second lead to keep the win, but fell just 0.3s shy, allowing the L’Espace Bienvenue BMW to move ahead on corrected times.

Yağiz Gedik and Pedro Ebrahim Carvalho did salvage a podium for Borusan, ahead of the Elite Motorsport McLaren shared by Tom Lebbon and Josh Rattican, who took the Silver championship lead after another consistent weekend.

Few would have bet on the L’Espace Bienvenue BMW taking victory. Starting back in 15th, the car made constant progress up the order in the hands of first van der Ende and then Lessennes to work into a podium place, which eventually became the win.

Robert Consani added the qualifying lap record to his existing race lap record to put the Audi on pole, and he was given a clear run to turn one when an alternator problem stopped the #81 RAFA Racing Team McLaren from joining him on the front row.

Consani led away, and stayed clear of drama behind when Lebbon clipped the rear of Leo Pichler in the #22 Allied-Racing Porsche, spinning it in front of the pack. The race one-winning NM Racing Team Mercedes-AMG driven by Alexandre Papadopulos could not avoid Lebbon and hit the rear of the McLaren, sustaining front-end damage that would end its race early.

Only Consani and Alex Denning in the second Elite McLaren escaped delay, with Denning briefly stealing the lead before Consani fought back ahead. Denning then fell back into the pack, eventually picking up damage.

Gabriele Piana enjoyed a great start, working into second ahead of the sister Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport BMW driven by Carvalho. But Piana could not catch Consani, who had a comfortable lead when he pitted for Lariche. Then the race began to turn.

While Lariche rejoined well clear, a safety car was called to clear a Lotus that had stopped on track, and Lariche found himself with both Borusan BMWs on his tail at the restart. Besler had taken over from Piana and got alongside the Audi when racing resumed before contact between the two helped Lariche stay in front. The stewards handed Lariche the 10s penalty for his stubborn defence. That looked to hand the win to Besler, but the #12 BMW suffered a second puncture of the weekend as it started the final lap.

Lessennes, meanwhile, had built on the work of van der Ende to bring the L’Espace Bienvenue car into third, which then became second after Besler’s puncture. Starting the final lap, Lariche was 8.4s ahead, but needed the full 10s to hold the win. While he pushed like mad, the gap at the flag was 9.666s. Lariche still held second, ahead of Gedik/Carvalho in the #11 BMW.

Fourth handed Rattican and Lebbon the championship lead after Enzo Joulié and Etienne Cheli ended their weekend in the gravel having run inside the top five.

Noam Abramczyk and Paul Petit controlled Pro-Am from the start in their AV Racing Porsche. Abramczyk passed Max Kronberg in the W&S Porsche that had started on pole and pulled clear, with the win made easier by penalties for their rivals. Kronberg picked up a time penalty for contact, before team-mate Finn Zulauf suffered a puncture. Championship leaders Safronov and Vaintrub shook off a 10s pit penalty for a collision on Saturday to finish second, with race one winners Julien Briche and Jean-Laurent Navarro taking third in their JSB Porsche ahead of the Matéo Herrero/Jean-Mathieu Leandri in the Chazel Alpine. After losing its front-row start with the #81, RAFA Racing Team did score an impressive fifth in Pro-Am with Rafael Martinez and Jon Lancaster.

Schumacher CLRT was untouchable in Am, with Hurgon qualifying well clear of his class rivals and running clear before handing to Huteau to bring it home. GPA Racing Aston Martin crew Kevin Jimenez and Florent Grizaud had to settle for second, with Toyota Gazoo Racing pair Mikael and Christoffer Brunnhagen taking a second podium of the weekend.

The GT4 European Series Powered by RAFA Racing Club is next in action in support of the world’s biggest GT3 race, the Crowdstrike 24 Hours of Spa, on June 25-30.