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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

McLaren and Aston aces star in GT thriller 

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Day and team-mate Mikey Porter had already wrapped up the drivers’ and groups’ titles for Forsetti Motorsport within the opening rain-affected dash race on Saturday afternoon. Nevertheless it was the unimaginable battle between the black and inexperienced Aston Martin and the yellow McLaren within the hour-long endurance race that can go away a long-lasting reminiscence.  

RACE 1 

Zac Meakin negotiated atrocious circumstances on Saturday afternoon to ship Elite its first dash race victory of the season, as Porter safely gathered the factors he wanted to substantiate the Forsetti pair as 2024 champions. 

The GT4WS subject had a minimum of managed to finish a free follow session very first thing on Saturday morning earlier than persistently heavy rain worn out any severe operating for different classes. Within the afternoon, the grid was fashioned from these follow instances for what turned out to be the one race of the day to run to full distance, with the Elite McLaren Artura ranging from pole place. 

Such was the soaking state of play, the sphere needed to wait till lap six earlier than it could possibly be launched for racing – and when it withdrew it was instantly known as again out once more. Meakin had led W&S Motorsport’s Professional-Am driver Max Kronberg and Wimmer Werk Motorsport’s Ivan Ekelchik by means of the primary racing lap, as Marcel Marchewicz slipped inside Daniel Drexel’s Porsche which ran vast by means of Flip 5. As Drexel put the facility down on the exit, he misplaced the Cayman which slammed nose-first into the wall on the surface and sustained heavy injury. 

As soon as the automotive had been eliminated, that left time for simply three full laps of racing. Meakin as soon as once more made a clear restart and secured the victory from spectacular Professional-Am winner Kronberg. Ekelchik ran vast at Flip 7 on the primary lap after the restart and dropped a few locations, which allowed Marchewicz to say the ultimate step of the rostrum. Porter was fourth from sixth on the grid to clinch the title. 

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“I used to be anticipating the security automotive to go on the second lap, so I ready all the pieces then,” stated Meakin. “To my shock, it stayed on. As soon as we did begin I managed to tear away, then sadly the incident occurred for an additional security automotive. However I managed to duplicate the restart, get away and it was comfy. The circumstances had been slippery, however not too dangerous. It was raceable. I’d like extra rain tomorrow, however I don’t suppose we’ll get it sadly.” 

Porter stated he didn’t really feel an excessive amount of strain as he did what he needed to do to safe the title. “I simply had to ensure I didn’t make a mistake and saved clear. Most of it was behind the security automotive, so I simply saved it on monitor and made certain I completed.” 

SR Motorsport’s Enrico Förderer was seventh general and first within the Cayman Trophy class, whereas Max Huber gained a battle with NM Racing Mercedes team-mate Alberto De Martin for Am honours in eighth general. 

RACE 2 

Lebbon blew Elite’s hopes of a dash race double on a sunny Sunday morning. Regardless of the much-improved circumstances the monitor remained greasy because the GT4WS subject took the beginning – and the floor caught out Lebbon who skated straight on at Flip 1 from his pole place. Nevertheless it did a minimum of set off a implausible comeback from the McLaren driver. 

Lebbon’s error left Josef Knopp with the lead in W&S Motorsport’s Porsche Cayman. In the meantime, fellow Cayman driver Raphael Rennhofer was spun round by Forsetti’s Day who had began solely fifth on the grid. 

Knopp instantly discovered himself beneath growing strain from Joel Mesch in his Schnitzelalm Mercedes, the latter pulling an incredible transfer on the surface of Flip 5 on lap six to take the lead. Day was quickly as much as second, passing the Cayman at Flip 9 on the next lap. However his contact with Rennhofer would come again to hang-out him, because the Aston Martin driver was handed a drive-through penalty. Day made some extent of passing Mesch for the lead earlier than taking his punishment on lap 11. 

In the meantime, Lebbon was on a cost within the yellow McLaren. He’d dropped to tenth on the opening lap, however as soon as Day had pitted was as much as second and shutting quick on Mesch. Because the 30-minute race entered its closing phases, the Mercedes and McLaren had been tied collectively, however Lebbon simply ran out of time and alternatives to take what would have been a dramatic comeback victory. 

“I used to be positively nervous over these closing laps,” stated Mesch. “I stated going into the weekend the McLaren would have insane tempo and that’s what we noticed. It was actually shut, one lap additional I wouldn’t have made it. However right here I’m, victory! What extra may I would like? The primary braking zone was actually slippery, which is when the McLaren went off and likewise the Porsche behind me. It was an enormous mess. I used to be a bit stunned after I noticed the McLaren come again at me.” 

Lebbon rued his mistake on the first nook. “However I recovered to P2 and virtually a win,” he stated. “It was good in the long run. We positively had a tempo benefit having caught him. We might have gotten him in the long run however we ran out of laps.” 

Knopp misplaced a podium end when Emil Gjerdrum’s CV Efficiency Mercedes knocked him right into a spin at Flip 1. Gjerdrum was handed a drive-through, which he didn’t serve and it was translated right into a time penalty which dropped him from third on the highway to ninth. That allowed NM Racing’s Max Huber to say a spot on the general podium and the Am class win from fourth-placed Day, who charged again from his penalty and handed NM’s Alex Papadopulous within the closing phases.  

Knopp recovered to fifth to take the Professional-Am class win, with Rennhofer getting back from his first nook trauma to finish the general high six.   

RACE 3 

GT4WS saved the most effective till final as Lebbon and Day placed on the duel of the Gedlich Racing season. 

The Forsetti Aston in Porter’s palms led the hour-long endurance race from the beginning as Meakin dropped from pole place to an preliminary fourth, earlier than rapidly clawing a spot again from Rennhofer’s Porsche Cayman at Flip 7. 

The race settled into a well-recognized sample, as Porter’s black Aston Martin led Marchewicz’s inexperienced Merdedes and Meakin’s yellow McLaren in a prepare. Meakin then picked off Marchewicz into Flip 4 on lap 9 and hunted down Porter, who triggered the pitstops 5 laps later as he handed the Forsetti entry over to Day. 

Meakin ran two laps longer earlier than handing over to Lebbon, who emerged simply in entrance of Day – however the brand new co-champion was totally on top of things and took the lead into Flip 5. Now the duel was on. 

Lap after lap, the 2 automobiles ran nostril to tail, the McLaren probing on the Aston as Lebbon pressed for an edge. He couldn’t discover one however got here shut on quite a few events. On the twentieth lap, the pair ran aspect by aspect by means of Turns two and three, with Day someway switching to the within line for Flip 4 to maintain his lead. The pair prevented contact, placing on a present of quick, skilful and in the end truthful driving. 

Then they got here as much as lap the Porsche Cayman GT4 CS of Dennis Bohn, who baulked Day from Flip 10 to 13 – and Lebbon had his probability. He made his transfer on the within of the penultimate flip, however with all 4 wheels off the circuit to chop in entrance of Day. Properly, he quickly handed again the result in keep away from a penalty. 

The battle raged on, with Lebbon plotting his closing try – and it got here as soon as once more at Flip 13 on the final lap. The McLaren gathered velocity by means of the flip, with all 4 wheels once more breaking monitor limits on the within. However then, it appeared, so had Day in his defence – which is probably why the ultimate end result stood.  

Lebbon had the higher momentum and dived inside on the closing nook, rising with the lead and a victory to recollect. 

“I’d type of misplaced hope a bit as a result of he’d pulled a niche because the tyres fell away,” stated a remarkably cool Lebbon. “I assumed I had one alternative, I would as properly go for it – and it labored. It was good to win in the long run. I overtook him as soon as however needed to give it again as a result of it was a bit questionable, but it surely’s good to come back throughout the road first.” 

“I used to be shaking like a moist canine,” stated a smiling Meakin who had been watching nervously from the pitlane. “On the finish, I assumed they’d gained it, I circled after which unexpectedly I heard shouts. Then Tom went previous first.” 

Behind the pair, Ekelchik and Rennhofer beat Marchewicz and Mesch to the ultimate podium spot, however the Schnitzelalm duo had carried out sufficient to beat their Elite rivals to second within the championship. Kronberg and Knopp secured the Professional-Am class victory, whereas Charles Dawson and Gjerdrum emerged on high from an entertaining race-long duel with CV Efficiency team-mates Michael Makes and Alex Connor. 



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