Kelvin van der Linde and Nico Varrone finished one-two at Paul Ricard to claim commanding Pro and Silver class Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series victories on Assetto Corsa Competizione for Team WRT and Rinaldi Racing earlier today.
The pole-winning Audi took the chequered flag 13.2s clear of the Ferrari, but both scored maximum points towards their respective Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Teams’ championships.
AKKA ASP finished runners-up in the Pro class for a second round running after Dani Juncadella’s looming penalty was rescinded by the stewards, while Arthur Rougier (Emil Frey, Lamborghini) added third in class and sixth overall to his Monza victory.
Silver Cup’s other podium finishers – Alex Fontana (Emil Frey Racing) and Ezequiel Perez Companc (Madpanda Motorsport, Mercedes-AMG)) – finished an excellent third and fifth overall, respectively.
But back at the front there was no denying Van der Linde and Varrone who also shared the initial front row.
Approximately 15 of the scheduled 60 minutes had been completed when a network issue forced the race to be temporarily halted. It restarted with a new duration of 45 minutes and the grid order taken from the lap prior to the stoppage.
Once again Van der Linde successfully defended his lead into Turn 1 before immediately gapping a chasing pack initially headed by Matteo Cairoli who’d passed Varrone prior to the restart.
WRT’s Audi was never troubled thereafter thanks to Van der Linde’s relentless pace, which helped establish a near-10s advantage before the pit window opened.
Behind, Varrone tracked Cairoli for the first nine minutes before drafting past along the Mistral Straight. Philip Ellis looked to follow him through down the inside but came to blows with the Porsche into Signes, which sent the Mercedes-AMG spinning out of contention.
It also set the tone for a frantic fight for the final podium place that raged throughout the remaining 35 minutes.
Dinamic’s 911 was in the thick of the action throughout, initially battling Marvin Dienst and Alex Fontana before engaging in a memorable scrap with Dani Juncadella. But that entertainment also came at a cost post-race when Cairoli was penalised 130s for failing to serve his mandatory pitstop and another 30s in lieu of a drive-through penalty.
The latter resulted in Juncadella being spun down to seventh with just two minutes remaining, but a slew of late issues for other drivers ultimately saw AKKA’s Mercedes-AMG come home fourth overall and second in Pro.
Dienst took the chequered flag in third overall after passing Cairoli on the final tour but picked up a post-race 30s penalty for an unsafe re-join. That, Cairoli’s extra time and an issue for Rougier on the final lap elevated Fontana to the final overall podium place and second in Silver after his Emil Frey Lamborghini enjoyed a largely trouble-free outing.
Companc backed up his Monza class podium with another at Paul Ricard, while Rougier completed the overall top-six and Pro rostrum.
Walkenhorst’s BMW was initially classified third in Pro before Juncadella’s penalty was withdrawn, but David Pittard still did enough to finish ahead of the charging Nicklas Nielsen (Iron Lynx, Ferrari) who was spun around at the restart.
The 30s penalty dropped Dienst to ninth and Kikko Galbiati (GRT Grasser, Lamborghini) completed the top-10.
Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series’ 2021 campaign hits its halfway mark at Spa-Francorchamps on July 29 - August 1.