TOUGH 24 HOURS OF SPA RACE FOR IRON LYNX AND IRON DAMES
The third round of the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup was held at the iconic Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, a track that presents a unique challenge, one that took its toll on the Iron Lynx and Iron Dames teams, cars and drivers.
In a mixed conditions qualifying session that truly tested a driver’s ability to adapt, the Iron Dames team shone in the spotlight, going fourth overall in the combined times and proceeding to the coveted Superpole session. During the top-20 qualifiers session, Doriane Pin qualified the #83 car P4 in class and P12 on the overall grid. Contact with the #32 BMW impeded the #63 Iron Lynx in Q2, so much so that it ended the session P20 and last in the Pro class and P62 overall. Meanwhile the #19 in Gold Cup qualified P7 in class and P54 overall.
The drivers taking the start were Michelle Gatting for the Iron Dames, Michele Beretta for the #19 car and Jordan Pepper with it all to do in the Pro class. The first 20 minutes would be spent behind the Safety Car whilst officials assessed the conditions. During this time, Jordan and the #63 squad made the call to pit for new tyres, meaning they were out of sequence with the rest of the pack.
As the green flag waved, Jordan was five seconds off the back of the train and closing at a rapid rate. By the time the rest of the pack were ready for their first stops, he had made a remarkable 18 overtakes, up to P50 overall. The out-of-sequence Jordan then took the lead as all other cars pitted. After 31 laps, he pitted from the lead but a prolonged stop for brake problems meant the team dropped several laps to the lead car.
From that point onwards, a combination of Mirko Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan lapped at a similar pace to the leaders, ensuring the #63 conceded no further time. As the eight-hour mark approached, the team identified that there was no way to recover the lost time and ultimately, retired the car.
In the Iron Dames car, meanwhile, Michelle struggled with the humid track conditions during the first stint, and once the first round of pitstops had been completed, she’d fallen to P12 in class and P50 in the overall classification. She’d fare better in the second stint, gaining two class positions to sit P10 before handing over to Sarah. Unfortunately, a puncture forced an early tyre change putting the #83 car out of sync with the rest of the pack, and Sarah Bovy re-joined P16 in class.
Despite the setbacks, progress was made during Sarah’s double-stint and she handed over to Rahel Frey in P13 at the four-hour mark. Rahel had the bit between her teeth and managed to close the gap to the car ahead, before claiming the position in the pits. Having completed six hours of running, the Dames collected 2 points for reaching the race’s first milestone in the top ten and were P8 in class, but they had to serve a 30 second track limits penalty at the next stop. Doriane got behind the wheel but shortly after starting her stint, she lost control of the car on the exit of Blanchimont, resulting in the car retiring from the race after completing 152 laps.
By comparison, the #19 car had a quiet race but made consistent progress up the order. During the first stint, Michele remained P7 in class but rose to P52 overall and continued this trend into his second stint, handing the car over to Leonardo Pulcini under a well-timed Safety Car in P6 in class and P33 overall.
After a battle with the Optimum Motorsport McLaren, Leonardo would claim P5 in class and by the end of his double-stint at the four-hour mark, the #19 car was P4 in class. Rolf Ineichen then took the reigns and kept the team within touching distance of the rest of the Gold Cup field as well as earning six points after the first six hours. With seven and a half hours completed, Michele brought the car into the pits having sustained damage by contact with another car. The team dropped 10 laps to the class leader but continued on through the night. The earlier damage would eventually prove detrimental, sending the car into the gravel and ending the team’s race with just under 10 hours left to run.
Super Trofeo Europe
It wasn’t just the headlining GT World Challenge Endurance Cup that Iron Lynx fielded cars in. A total of six cars across four categories collected three trophies from the two Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe races.
The first race would yield a victory for the #89 car of Yelmer Buurmanm and Nigel Shoonderwoerd in the Pro-Am class having started in sixth, while Rodrigo Testa and Ugo De Wilde at the wheel of the #10 Pro car scored a podium finish from seventh on the grid. Kumar Prabakaran in the LC Cup #38 car made progress from eighth on the grid to sixth at the flag and the Emanuele Zonzini / Emanuel Colombini combination finished P13 in Pro-Am. Claude-Yves Gosselin and Marc Rostan and the father-son duo of Donovan Privitelio / Luciano Privitelio all navigated the midfield chaos to finish seventh and fourth in Am and LC Cup respectively.
Drivers in the second race completed four laps under the Safety Car before a final classification was announced. The Privitelio pairing claimed a class win while Kumar finished eighth further down the LC Cup field. In the Am category, the #4 car finished seventh and the #10 car mirrored that position in the Pro class. The #89 and #78 Pro-Am cars finished in P14 and P4 respectively.
It’s very hard to lose all 3 cars so early in the race. We’ve made huge efforts to prepare to race at the top level and the pace was there to fight for it. It’s obviously very disappointing the way the race went. We’ll keep our heads up and keep working to finish the season on a high.
For the Super Trofeo, I’d say it was a positive weekend messed up by the weather, but we confirmed we have competitive cars and line-ups. I’m very happy for Nigel and Yelmer’s first win and looking forward to the first overall win, which will hopefully come soon after two podiums in the first two races.Iron Lynx Team Principal and CEO, Andrea Piccini
The next event on the Fanatec GT World Challenge Endurance Cup calendar is Round 4, a three-hour race at the Nürburgring (29-30 July).