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Germany Wins Eventful First Qualifying Race

Renauer, Goerig score victory in a red-flag affected first race at Vallelunga…

Photo: FIA Motorsport Games

Germany claimed victory in a rain and red flag-affected first qualifying race for the FIA Motorsport Games GT Cup event at Vallelunga.  

Alfred Renauer made a late move on Christina Nielsen, driving down the inside of the Denmark-entered Honda NSX GT3 Evo, to take the win.

Renauer shared the drive with Steffen Goerig, who after a wet-weather start was running seventh when the 60-minute race was red-flagged halfway through for two cars stopping in risky positions.

The intervention resulted in the extension of the driving time by 21 minutes, by which point the 2.5-mile Vallelunga circuit had started to dry up.

This negatively affected the cars that had chosen not to switch from wet tires to slicks, notably the team Russia Ferrari 488 GT3 which was leading and the team Turkey Aston Martin Vantage GT3 which started second.

Denis Bulatov initially held his own ahead of Ahyancan Guven in the Aston, but after six minutes both drivers started to struggle with their cars’ tires.

The GT3 machines behind that were on slicks quickly made their way through the field, reshaping the order in the final 15 minutes.

Nielsen and Renauer both got past Guven in quick succession before working their way past Bulatov.

Nielsen held off Renauer into the final 10 minutes, but the German Porsche squeezed through near the end and went on to take victory by just under nine seconds from the Danish Honda.

Nico Verdonck pressurized Nielsen in the closing laps but couldn’t find a way past in the Belgian Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo that was started by Louis Machiels.

Verdonck settled for third, ahead of the team Poland Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo driven by Artur Janosz and Andrzej Lewandowski.

In fifth was the United Kingdom-entered Ferrari 488 GT3 of Chris Froggatt and Flick Haigh, ahead of the Belarus Ferrari shared by Alexander Talkanitsa Jr and Sr.

The pole-sitting Japanese Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo controlled much of the opening stint, but lost its lead after 20 minutes when Hiroshi Hamaguchi made an error to let Russia’s Rinat Salhikov through.

Hamaguchi and Ukyo Sasahara, who will start Sunday’s second race of the weekend from pole, ultimately crossed the line in 11th.

They finished one place in front of the Russian Ferrari, which in turn completed the race just ahead of the Aston Martin from defending gold medallist Turkey.

Saturday’s race included two safety car periods, one for the Optimum Motorsport-run Kuwait Aston Martin crashing on lap one and the other for the Spain and France cars getting beached on a curb and in the gravel.

The second of these incidents resulted in the red flag, under which the teams were allowed to change drivers and tires.

The second qualifying race is set to get underway tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. CET. The combined results from these two races will decide the grid for the Main Race on Sunday.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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