Making its very appearance in the GT4 European Series Southern Cup this weekend, Schubert Motorsport’s new No. 200 BMW M4 GT4 driven by Beitske Visser and Dennis Marschall has won the opening race of the Barcelona round after a thrilling finish.
In the Am FFSA French GT championship, Maserati has claimed a maiden victory this year courtesy of GP 34 by Gemo Motorsport’s No. 34 GranTurismo (Philippe Marie-Olivier Gomez).
Despite intense pressure from several cars, BMW Motorsport Junior Marschall held his ground until the checkered flag to conclude what his team-mate and fellow BMW protégé Visser had brilliantly started.
Indeed, the Dutch ace surged ahead from third on the grid to overhaul the front-row starting Ginettas – the No. 111 Classic & Modern Racing G55 and the No. 8 Speed Car machine – and lead into the first corner.
A contact in the pack on the opening lap led to an early Safety Car period, soon followed by a red flag as safety barriers around the track needed repairing.
Once racing resumed in earnest, Visser nailed the re-start to fend off any challenge from Energy By ART’s No. 4 Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR GT4 (Alain Ferté-Gregoire Demoustier) and Robert Consani’s No. 8 Ginetta.
Pole sitter and Am points leader Stéphane Tribaudini had already slipped down the order but the No. 111 G55 remained the highest ranked car in its category at that time.
As soon as the mandatory driver change window opened at the 25th minute, a gaggle of competitors, including several front runners, rushed into the pits.
On the other hand, Schubert Motorsport elected to keep Visser on track until the very last moment before she handed the wheel over to Marschall, who headed back out on track still in first place.
The BMW Motorsport Junior immediately had to withstand intense pressure from Spanish racer Ander Vilarino in the No. 2 TFT Racing Porsche he shares with Swiss driver Niki Leutwiler.
The mano a mano then turned into a three-way battle when Ekris Motorsport’s No. 888 BMW Ekris M4 GT4 (Max Koebolt-Ricardo van der Ende) joined the party.
The three cars would stay glued together for the final 20 minutes of the hour-long contest. Marschall kept his cool all the way to beat a charging Vilarino by less than a second.
Elsewhere, the Pro-Am title fight featured a major twist in the second half of the race when the No. 8 championship-leading Ginetta of Robert Consani-Benjamin Lariche had to retire while running a strong fourth.
Mike Parisy and Gilles Vannelet, their main rivals in the No. 30 CD Sport Porsche, could not really capitalise on this misfortune, as they had to settle for ninth place.
It is worth noting that the Race 1-winning BMW M4 is not eligible to score points towards this year’s GT4 European Series Southern Cup since the car had not raced in the championship prior to this weekend.
The Am class saw an unexpected turn of events as well when the No. 111 CMR-run Ginetta of points leader Tribaudini and team-mate Michael Petit hit trouble and slipped out of contention.
This paved the way for GP 34 By Gemo Motorsport to grab the opportunity and that’s exactly what Philippe Marie and Olivier Gomez did, taking the No. 34 GranTurismo to a strong class win.
The GP 34 By Gemo Motorsport pairing headed two CMR crews in Fabien Michal-Georges Cabanne (No. 666 Ginetta), who close the points gap to Tribaudini as a result, and Sylvain Debs-Gwenaël Delomier (No. 999 G55).