The first race of the FIA European GT3 Championship at Nogaro this afternoon was won by the Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS of French driversMarc Sourd and Gregory Guilvert. On a treacherous Circuit Paul Armagnac Guilvert and Sourd kept their cool while the other competitors piled error upon error.
On a wet track Heico Gravity-Charouz Team driver Maximilian Buhk tried to keep the Audi of Marc Sourd behind him at the start of the race, but the young German made a mistake and slid off the track. Fortunately for Buhk he didn’t damage anything and he rejoined in second place right behind Sourd.
A few seconds behind Sourd and Buhk was Sourd’s teammate Jerome Demay, with Rhino’s Leipert Motorsport drivers Filip Sladecka and Gilles Vannelet as well as Team Novadriver’ Ni Amorim fighting for positions four to six. In a direct fight Vannelet beat his teammate Sladecka first, then passed Amorim, before spinning off attempting to pass the Audi of Demay. Soon after, Demay was again under attack by one of the Leipert Lamborghini’s, this time the Gallardo of Filip Sladecka. The two cars touched and spun off the track. Sladecka and Demay both rejoined with some damage to their cars.
When the pit-window opened for the mandatory pit stops Sourd and Buhk stayed out until the very last moment. Just before the end of his stint Buhk finally managed to get by the Audi of Marc Sourd and he took the lead. There was some unsporting behavior though as the German steered to the right and the Mercedes and Audi touched briefly. No action was taken by the race director.
As the two cars pitted the Heico Gravity-Charouz Team changed to slicks, while the Sainteloc Racing team decided not to change tires. The gamble did not pay off for Heico as Dominik Baumann and his teammate Mika Vähämäki had lots of trouble keeping their cars on the asphalt. Gerhard Tweraser, who had taken over from Filip Sladecka, had also not changed to slicks and the Lamborghini quickly moved up into second place. He was then given a drive-through penalty for the incident Sladecka had with the Audi.
The penalty would likely have had no big impact as Tweraser was 30 seconds behind race leader Gregory Guilvert and some 45 seconds clear of his pursuers, but Tweraser didn’t serve his penalty and was eventually black flagged. On his arrival in the pit after the finish his response was that his radio wasn’t working and he hadn’t seen the signals from the pit wall.
Despite a small detour through the grass with only a couple of minutes to go Gregory Guilvert had no problems and he cruised to victory. He wasn’t shown the chequered flag as he crossed the line after an hour and as a result he passed the line twice. Tweraser finished in second place, but was excluded, AF Corse driver Stefano Gai crossed the line in third and Dominik Baumann in fourth place, which meant he and teammate Maximilian Buhk could go to the podium to take the honors for third place.
(Image: © Markus Berns / SRO)