Competition102 GT4 European Series wrote history during the 75th edition of Grand Prix de Pau. For the championship and for most drivers it was the first time they raced on a street course. They were not only challenged by the narrow parts of the track, but also the changing weather conditions made it a weekend not to forget. Most sessions were driven on a wet track, although some drivers opted for slick tyres during the evening race on Saturday, while the second race in Pau was being held under wonderful circumstances. Several tens of thousands of visitors enjoyed the thrilling GT4 spectacle.
Both races were won by PROsport Performance with Jörg Viebahn and Peter Terting battling the changeable weather conditions on Saturday evening, while their team-mates Nicolaj Møller Madsen and Andreas Patzelt took the victory on Sunday, even when the Porsche Cayman PRO4 GT4 was hit in the penultimate lap and touched the barriers. In the AM category Allied Racing’s Dietmar Lackinger and Jan Kasperlik enjoyed racing in the streets of Pau and won both races.
There were more stories to be told as former champion Ricardo van der Ende experienced a shocking moment in practice and partnered Frenchman André Grammatico the remaining weekend, the series welcomed two local guest drivers and Peter Terting showed his race winning skills.
Eric Cayrolle and Didier Moreu didn’t hesitate to take part in the Competition102 GT4 European Series round at Pau when they got the opportunity and the car to compete. Both drivers living in city near the Pyrenees enjoyed, in contrary to most rivals, rich experience on the street circuit.
“This year marks my 25th edition in Grand Prix de Pau,” said Cayrolle, who has driven many different vehicles. In 2009 he took part in the World Touring Car Championship when the series visited Pau. “I drove Renault Clio, Formula Renault, Formula 3, silhouettes, super tourism, GTs, a lot of different cars. I indeed think, at this track, I’m the most experienced driver in the field.”
For this round Cayrolle and his team-mate Moreu were able to get their hands on a Ginetta G55 GT4. Although not knowing the car and driving it in difficult weather conditions, the pair left a good impression. “We are only racing it here, so for us it’s difficult because we don’t know the car and also for the team to work with it. In addition to that, the rainy conditions made it difficult too. But I think it is possible to achieve good results,” added Cayrolle.
Although he has seen it all, the French driver preferred racing at a dry track. “Pau is very good in the dry. In wet it’s tricky because you have the white lines on the road, which are slippery. With the Ginetta, it’s moves around well and you can go over the bumps. In Pau it’s important to jump over the bumps. But in wet that’s tricky.”
The experience of Cayrolle and Moreu paid off by claiming two second places in the AM class. Both race wins went to Allied Racing drivers Dietmar Lackinger and Jan Kasperlik, while Brookspeed’s Steven Liquorish and Greame Mundy claimed both third places. Alessandro Fogliani and Patrick Zamparini, driving for Villorba Corse, and Street Art Racing’s Albert Bloem and Jérôme Demay just missed out on the podium this time.
Unfortunate team switch
Former champion Ricardo van der Ende did not race with a car on a street course before he visited Pau and therefore he was happy to compete in the second round of the championship. After finishing second in race 1 at Monza, the Dutchman was eager to secure another trophy. Racing the Ekris M4 GT4, van der Ende had a successful car to do so, only his team-mate Bernhard van Oranje unfortunately collided with a fellow competitor in free practice. The orange car was beyond repair for the weekend.
“We didn’t know what was going on until other people asked how Bernhard was doing. If they ask a question like that, then it must be bad, we thought. It was a bit of a shock,” said van der Ende. Fortunately, van Oranje was unharmed but their vehicle was badly damaged and could not be repaired on time for the race.
Van der Ende did, of course, not travel to Pau for one single practice session. Local driver André Grammatico participated without a team-mate and the Dutchman grabbed his opportunity. “It was arranged in eight minutes. That includes a conversation of five minutes and he needed to speak with his technicians, which took three minutes. It was great that André gave me the opportunity to race.”
The Dutchman started the race weekend well. “I didn’t expect to qualify the car on first row,” he added. However, van der Ende admitted that he didn’t need time to get used to the BMW M3 GT4. “It was the car we raced last year, the #1 championship car which we rented from Grammatico last year.”
“I never raced on a street track before. To do this with a big car of 500 hp it’s actually a very crazy thing to do,” he said. “But racing here was a great experience.”
Van der Ende almost won race two. He was leading the race when he handed over the BMW to Grammatico. Soon after that the safety car appeared on track which meant that the Frenchman lost an eleven second advantage. In the remaining laps Grammatico defended well, but when his rival passed for the lead, the two racers unfortunately collided. That meant the end of the race.
Winning spirit ‘and a bit of luck’
Peter Terting’s win at tricky conditions in Pau didn’t come as much of a surprise. The Nürburgring-Nordschleife specialist is familiar with wet and dark race tracks. In addition to that, the 32-year-old German has extensive experience in DTM and WTCC.
After winning both races competing with PROsport Performance at the Nürburgring last year, Terting played a dominant role in race 1. Starting from front row, team-mate Jörg Viebahn passed the sister Porsche in the first lap. He was in still in front when he handed over the Porsche Cayman PRO4 GT4 to Terting. Meanwhile the sun had set and it had started to rain, but the German continued on slick tyres and was even able to pull a gap.
Just when he took it easy backmarkers had to be lapped. And that was the most challenging part. “I wanted to be safe, so I slowed down a bit. But then I needed to start lapping others,” he said. “That was difficult as the guys received the blue flag, but they found it difficult to see because of the darkness. Therefore, I couldn’t always pass directly.”
As he was familiar with racing in the night, Terting was confident he could win, despite Nicolaj Møller Madsen in the sister car was closing in on him. About the track conditions he said: “This was easy. If you do 24 hour races on the Nordschleife, you know what it means if it will be dark. Also working together with Jörg played out well and I guess key to success this weekend on this special track was that you have to find a rhythm quickly. Because if it starts to rain, it’s very tricky to see if it’s wet or dry and then you need also a bit of luck.”
The next round will be held during the weekend of 11 and 12 June at Silverstone in the United Kingdom. For the first time the competitors will participate in an endurance race over three hours.