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Silver Ferrari Pair Were “Not Expecting” to Mix for Overall Win

De Pauw, Jean weren’t expecting to be so strong overall at Brands after only two test days…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

Silver Cup drivers Ulysse de Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre Jean said they were “not expecting” to be so competitive in the overall stakes during last weekend’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup season-opener at Brands Hatch.

The AF Corse duo won Race 1 after cashing in on de Pauw causing an upset to put the No. 53 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 on pole, before taking fifth in the afternoon contest.

De Pauw and Jean said they were anticipating being strong in the Silver category but didn’t arrive with the thought of going for outright honors because they only had two days of pre-season testing in the Ferrari at Magny-Cours, due to budgetary constraints.

Despite the limited preparation, they managed to beat the more established Pro pairings and came away from Brands Hatch third in the overall Sprint Cup drivers’ standings.

Last year de Pauw and Jean shared a CMR Bentley Continental GT3 and finished sixth in the Silver championship, with their best overall result being a third place at Zandvoort.

The last time a Silver pairing won outright in Sprint Cup occurred in that same race at Zandvoort where Alex Fontana and Ricardo Feller prevailed for Emil Frey Racing.

“I think it’s close to perfect: first overall pole and first overall win, two Silver Cup wins and a top-five in Race 2 is the dream scenario to start the season,” de Pauw told Sportscar365.

“We are very happy with the car and the team. We are getting along very well.

“I had the expectation to fight at the front in Silver Cup. We knew that we had a good crew so we also wanted to fight at the front of the overall classification, but we didn’t know what to expect because we only had two test days prior to the race.

“The test at Magny-Cours was one month ago, so a long time ago.

“It was a very compact day on Saturday with practice and Pre-Quali followed by quali, all on one day. So we didn’t really know what to expect, but I must say I was not expecting that.”

Jean praised the AF Corse crew for giving the No. 53 pairing a strong car at Brands Hatch.

The Ferrari ranked fifth in Free Practice and seventh in Pre-Qualifying, although other Silver Cup cars reached the top 10 during those sessions.

The AF machine then turned heads in qualifying when de Pauw stormed to the Race 1 pole with a time of 1:21.770 before handing over to Jean who placed on the third row.

“The car helped us to be very confident and we could push,” Jean told Sportscar365.

“That, as a driver, is pleasant to know you can push and that the car won’t surprise you with oversteer. That helped us to do some great racing.

“We were definitely not expecting this kind of result after only two days of testing with the car and the team.

“Ulysse did a brilliant job in Q1 to put the car on pole position overall, which helped us to win the morning race. On my side, I missed a bit in my quali, so that’s why I wanted [Sunday] to be another day and push to show my real pace. I am very happy.”

The opening 60-minute encounter at Brand Hatch yielded the first outright win for a Ferrari in Sprint Cup since 2015.

Despite claiming a landmark result for the Italian manufacturer, Jean suggested that both he and de Pauw don’t want to get ahead of themselves in terms of fighting against the Pro runners.

“For sure, if we won the race here, we hope to win some more during the season,” said the Frenchman.

“But that’s not what I’m thinking right now. I would like to enjoy it with the team, and after we need to put our heads on [round two at] Magny-Cours.

“We need to stay focused: the championship is long. If we want to win Silver and finish high in the overall championship, we need to be there every weekend. This will be the key.

“I am excited about the win, but I’m not [getting too] excited about the other weekends. I keep my head down and we will keep working.”

De Pauw added: “We had only two test days and race day was only our fourth day in the car. There is definitely more to improve, which is a good thing.”

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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