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Pla, Sancinena Claim Maiden GT4 Southern Cup Win in Barcelona

Pla, Sancinena take first GT4 Southern Cup win in Spain…

Photo: GT4 European Series

Jim Pla and Pierre Sancinéna (No. 1 Racing Technology Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR GT4) have secured their maiden GT4 European Series Southern Cup win in the second 60-minute race held at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Meanwhile, Maserati and GP 34 by Motorsport have made it two wins from two events in the French FFSA GT AM Championship, following a last-lap move from the No. 34 GranTurismo of Philippe Marie and Olivier Gomez.

That pass was only one of many twists in a race that took place in tricky wet-weather conditions after heavy rain swept across the Spanish Grand Prix venue ahead of the start.

On a soaked track, Julien Piguet thought he had enjoyed a tremendous start when BMW Team France’s No. 9 BMW Ekris M4 GT4 approached the first corner in the lead, having launched from ninth.

But the two-time Nevers Magny-Cours winner, who races alongside Fred Johais this year, was soon handed a drive-through penalty for jumping the start.

The misfortune promoted Steven Palette and the No. 18 Porsche, which had lined up 11th on the grid.

The Martinet By Alméras driver had behind him the two Racing Technology-run Porsches – Jimmy Antunes on the No. 11 Cayman and Jim Pla on the No. 1 Porsche, who soon got past his team-mate.

Having encountered technical gremlins in qualifying, CD Sport’s Morgan Moullin Traffort (No. 31 Cayman) and Mike Parisy (No. 30 Porsche) were already making steady progress through the field.

And so was Lonni Martins, who had started P24 and already featured in the points-paying positions with the No. 5 Riviera Motorsport-entered Porsche.

After taking over from race leader Palette, Henry Hassid headed back on track still in the lead but he soon came under pressure from Pierre Sancinéna, who had replaced Jim Pla in the second-placed Porsche.

The Team Racing Technology driver soon relieved the No. 18 Porsche from first place before pulling away and building a gap that would keep stretching until the end.

The battle for second place involved thrilling on-track battles between Hassid, Christophe Hamon (No. 5 Cayman), David Hallyday (No. 31 Porsche), and CD Sport team-mate Gilles Vannelet (No. 30 Cayman).

Right behind, the No. 8 Pro-Am championship-leading Ginetta of Benjamin Lariche-Robert Consani remained in the hunt and ready to pounce should their rivals up the road hit a snag.

With grip conditions still far from being at a premium, the drivers had to walk on a razor’s edge but they did so brilliantly to put on a great show.

Hamon eventually pulled clear of the hunting pack and went on to secure Riviera Motorsport’s maiden Southern Cup podium in the team’s young history.

CD Sport scored valuable championship points in both the Drivers’ and Teams’ standings, as Parisy-Vannelet came home third, just ahead of team-mates Moullin Traffort-Hallyday.

For Lariche-Consani (No. 8 Speed Car Ginetta), it was an exercise in damage limitation with sixth place at the flag, behind the Palette-Hassid pairing.

The No. 9 BMW Ekris M4 GT4 recovered from its early drive-through penalty to secure seventh, ahead of CMR’s No. 26 pole-sitting Ginetta (Soheil Ayari-Nicolas Tardif).

The No. 2 TFT Racing-run Porsche (Ander Vilarino-Niki Leutwiler) and No. 69 Saintéloc Racing Cayman of Greg Guilvert and Manu Rodrigues completed the points-paying positions.

Sunday’s Race was equally exciting in the French FFSA GT AM championship since the class winners were only known on the final lap of the 60-minute event.

Having slipped behind BMW Team France’s No. 6 BMW Ekris M4 GT4 (Jean-Claude Lagniez-Olivier Gomez) after the mandatory driver change, the No. 34 Maserati GranTurismo got back ahead in a last-ditch effort that resulted in a second win for the GP 34 by Gemo Motorsport team.

Lagniez-Depauw were able to find solace in securing another podium finish, which came after the pair of top-three results they had scored at Nevers Magny-Cours last month.

Paul and Jean-Philippe Lamic (No. 54 Vic’Team Ginetta) stepped onto the third step of the rostrum.

In light of a thrilling Race 2, which saw riveting battles and sportsmanship on track, one will be pleased to notice that cooler heads have prevailed among the ranks of the GT4 European Series Southern Cup ahead of a promising season finale.

The sixth and final round of the year takes place at Circuit Paul Ricard on October 14-15. The two 60-minute races will be shown live on the series’ official website and Facebook page, as well as SRO Motorsports Group’s GT World YouTube channel.

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