Ekris Motorsport claimed a prestigious win on Saturday as part of the iconic Pau Grand Prix, with the No. 888 Ekris BMW M4 of Max Koebolt and Ricardo van der Ende tasting victory in the opening GT4 European Series Southern Cup race.
Lining up on pole position, Koebolt managed to hold off the other 30 GT4 cars taking to the streets of Pau under a setting sun.
It did not take long before the Safety Car went out though, following a contact at the back involving Team Speed Car’s No. 445 Ginetta G55 GT4 and Sainteloc Racing’s No. 69 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.
Barely had the GT4 European Series riders and runners been let loose again when Robert Consani, in the No. 8 Speed Car Ginetta, set about hunting down the race-leading Ekris.
Tucked in behind Koebolt, the rally ace tried everything he could to get past the Dutch racer, but to no avail.
While the nimble Ginetta performed very strongly through sector two, the powerful Ekris would pull away on the straight and allow Koebolt to hold off a charging Consani up until the mandatory pit stop window.
Both teams went for a similar strategy and called their cars in at the same time, which shaped a beautiful mano a mano in Pau’s tight pit lane.
Once again, the BMW entry did not waver under pressure and van der Ende headed back out just ahead of Consani’s teammate Benjamin Lariche.
Gael Castelli, who had taken over from Rodolphe Wallgren aboard the No. 444 Speed Car Ginetta, started putting the hammer down to reel in the leading duo.
The Pro-Am points co-leader went slightly over the edge by tangling with his team-mate, which denied their team a shot at a double podium finish.
Speed Car’s misfortune promoted Team Racing Technology’s No. 11 Porsche, as team manager Sylvain Noel and Jimmy Antunes finished second ahead of Classic & Modern Racing’s Nicolas Tardif and Soheil Ayari who had started eighth on the No. 26 Ginetta.
Race 2 will get underway at 12:50 p.m. local time on Sunday.
RESULTS: Race 1