Major success from Ginetta G55 GT4 customers came over the weekend during a double-header of one hour races at Magny Cours circuit in central France, the latest round of the GT4 European Series Southern Cup.
Almost a third of the 30 car grid was made up of Ginetta G55 GT4s, nine Ginettas across three customer teams with the Am class championship lead in the hands of the CMR Ginetta crews coming into the Magny Cours event and the Speed Car G55 GT4 team sitting a close second in the Pro-Am points standings.
Qualifying saw the Am class utterly dominated by the Ginetta squads. It was a 1-2 start for race one, with the class championship leading #111 CMR G55 GT4 taking class pole with the fourth fastest time of the session. The qualifying session for race two would go one better with the #54 Vic Team Ginetta heading a Ginetta 1 – 2 - 3 in class.
In the lead Pro-Am class there was a pair of front row starts for a pair of Ginettas with the #8 Speed Car G55 GT4 second on the grid for race one, and the #26 CMR Ginetta repeating the qualifying result in the session to set the grid for race two.
From the start in Saturday afternoon’s race the #8 Ginetta burst through into the lead in the hands of Robert Consani but lost out into the Adelaide Hairpin and thereafter spent much of the race showing a clean pair of heels to the chasing pack of Porsches. The car would stay in a strong second position after the compulsory pit stops and driver changes but coming into the final stages, the car now with Benjamin Lariche at the wheel, the threat became altogether more serious as the #26 CMR Ginetta made its way up through the order in the hands of endurance racing veteran Soheil Ayari.
Ayari looked set to launch an attack for second, his pace looking likely to see him in a battle for the overall lead before the end of the race. The race though was brought under a Full Course Yellow with 20 minutes remaining, the Safety Car then scrambled as track officials worked to re-fix an errant drain cover. Any hope of a push for a Ginetta win though was thwarted when the red flag was shown with 15 minutes to go, the track problem insurmountable in the remaining time. The #8 crew then would claim second, easily enough to take the Championship lead from their Porsche rivals.
In the Am class it was disaster for the class championship leading #54 Vic Racing G55 GT4, a heavy hit from the rear saw the car into retirement. Bad news for one Ginetta though turned into much better news for another as the #111 CMR Ginetta simply scythed through the field of Pro-Am runners, twice.
Michael Petit made his debut in the car and did a fine job of getting within reach of the leading BMW. Championship leader Stephane Tribaudini took the wheel at the pit stops but was soon dealt a stop-go penalty, the CMR team had made an error in timing for the stop.
Thereafter though Tribaudini’s pace was excellent; “After I was told about the stop-and-go penalty, I thought that was it: I’d never see the first two cars in the AM class again. I had nothing to lose so I just went for it.”
He caught and passed the leader, pulling away and then passing several Pro-Am runners too, finishing the race with the class win and 7th overall, comfortably ahead of the sister #666 G55 GT4 which had also passed the BMW by the flag for a maximum points haul for the team.
In race two, Soheil Ayari’s hopes to turn third into a win on Sunday for the #26 CMR Ginetta squad were over early after a first lap issue for the car that started second on the grid. Ginetta’s hopes then were in the hands of the second placed car from Saturday’ race, but the #8 Speed Car Ginetta had started down in 14th position.
From the start though there was an immediate attack underway and coming through the pit stop cycle the #8 was well into the top 10 and attacking hard. Into the closing stages and Consani was in sight of a potential top five finish, the Ginetta much the better handling prospect amongst the GT4 contenders and using that to its best advantage.
Again though there was late race drama, the #8 first bundled out of fifth position then hit hard from behind, the left rear suspension broken and the car stuck in the gravel.
At the same moment though a couple of corners further on there was trouble too for the #30 Porsche, the previous Championship leader stopping on track, bringing out the red flag again and then later being excluded from a third place finish for a technical infringement.
The Red Flag left the #8 eventually classified fifth, enough to extend the lead in the Teams Championship for Speed Car to 25 points, for Benjamin Lariche and Robert Consani in the drivers’ championship to 15 points and for Lariche in the junior championship standings to 27 points.
In the Am class it was another fine performance form the class championship leading #111 CMR Ginetta, they would finish well ahead of the rest to extend their championship advantage. The sister #666 G55 GT4 would finish on the podium once again, third in class.
That left the class championship firmly in the control of CMR, 70 points ahead with four races remaining.
In the Am class drivers’ standings the double win for Stephane Tribaudini would see him head to the final pair of race meetings for the season with a healthy 31 point advantage. The previous class championship leading Vic Team Ginetta pairing of Paul and Jean Philippe Lamic are still holding third after a luckless weekend at Magny Cours.
Ginetta teams and drivers then lead all five championship standings after a weekend that saw two class pole positions, two class wins, two overall podium finishes and four class podium finishes. The GT4 European Series Southern Cup is in action next at Barcelona in three weeks’ time before the season finale at Paul Ricard a fortnight later.