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Abril: Le Mans Success Led to Ferrari GT Open Program

Strong debut run at Le Mans helped set up Vincent Abril and Louis Prette’s GT Open program…

Photo: Porsche

Vincent Abril says a successful partnership from last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans led to his new full-season International GT Open campaign with AF Corse.

The former Bentley factory driver will make his GT Open debut alongside his friend Louis Prette, while also competing for Black Falcon in the GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup.

Abril (above, right) drove with Louis Prette (center) and his father Philippe Prette (left) at Le Mans last year, where the three drivers all made their debuts in the race.

They finished sixth in GTE-Am with a Porsche 911 RSR, and then reprised the partnership for the 4 Hours of Shanghai in November.

This program has led to a more long-term partnership, according to Abril, who says he wanted to find a suitable championship for the younger Prette. 

“[Le Mans] was their first experience at this level of motorsports,” Abril told Sportscar365.

“Louis is talented so we were looking for a championship for him to do seriously, because he won the Ferrari Challenge, which has some really good drivers there as well.

“His work is taking up a lot of his time but as a Silver, non-Pro driver, he is one of the fastest out there.

“I said, ‘Let’s try and find a championship for you to do,’ and it turns out I was also in the package for them to do that. It’s a friendly relationship that turned into a really competitive championship goal, which is nice.

“Together with AF and him, I think we have a really solid lineup. I’m always cautious with championships I don’t know and drivers I’m not used to fighting against but I’m sure we’ll achieve great things.”

Abril admits he’s managing his expectations for the program as he’s yet to drive the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo and is unfamiliar with GT Open, having spent most of the past few years in SRO Motorsports Group’s GT3 competition.

“I think it’s just going to be a case of us adapting to the championship, the tires, the BoP is a bit different there as well,” he said.

“The fact there is a Silver driver mandatory for the overall championship is great because we’ll fight for the overall, which was the idea, and not just a class win.

“That was a major decision and a deal-changer. Taking them to GT World Challenge was a bit too soon and too rushed. I just want to see what they can do at this level and I’m sure they’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

No Le Mans Return Planned This Year

Abril isn’t expected to return to Le Mans for a second time this September, but he is keeping an eye out for possible openings.

“It’s all depending on last-minute changes, which do always happen. It’s not like it’s completely out of the picture, but [probably not],” he said.

“Last year was great to show that we did a good job there, in terms of being straight on the pace, but we had to compromise the car a little bit because it’s a tricky circuit so we made a very safe car.

“I think with the car we had, to be on that sort of pace was pretty good. I’m really eager to have an effort again there but maybe not in GTE-Am, but then it gets complicated to find a one-off drive.

“In LMP2 there are no manufacturers there, and GTE-Pro is a very competitive environment and if you’re not linked to a manufacturer that’s doing it, it’s tough to get a seat as well.

“I’m keeping an eye on it and I’m not desperate to go back just for the sake of it. If I want to go back, it’s to do it properly, so we’ll see.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist who is Sportscar365's European Editor and also Managing Editor for e-racing365. He is a student of Politics and International Relations. Contact Jake

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