International GT Open, Round 1
BERETTA AND SCHANDORFF LEAD HOME VSR 1-2 AT PAUL RICARD
May 16, 2021
Two VSR Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evos joined the GT Open grid for the first round of the Championship at Paul Ricard this weekend. Baptiste Moulin and Yuki Nemoto took the wheel of the 19 car whilst Michele Beretta and Frederik Schandorff paired up in the 63 car. Both cars raced in the Pro category.
The first qualifying session, which set the grid for Saturday’s race, saw the VSR Lambos block out the fifth row with Schandorff qualifying ninth and Moulin tenth. The opening race of the season got off to a chaotic start when an opening lap crash caused a fifteen minute safety car period. After just two laps of racing the safety car was called out again when Grimm lost control of his car and after another lengthy pause racing resumed with just over half an hour left. The pit window was opened immediately and a lap later Moulin pitted to hand over the 19 car to Nemoto. Schandorff, who had hauled his Lamborghini up to sixth place, pitted a lap later and Beretta took over. Strong opening laps from both drivers saw them running in fourth and sixth when the pit window closed. For the remaining twenty minutes of the race the duo provided plenty of excitement as, hampered by a harsh BoP, they struggled to stay ahead of the cars behind them. Beretta took the flag in fifth place and Nemoto in seventh after a photo finish with the Audi of Carroll.
Qualifying for Sunday’s race took place on a damp and slippery track which dried out as the session progressed. Nemoto qualified fifth fastest, just 0.027 seconds quicker than his team mate Beretta who qualified sixth.
When the lights went green Nemoto made an incredible start, using the slipstream of Soucek’s Porsche to draft his way into third place. Ten minutes into the race Soucek and Millroy in first and second had a two second gap to Nemoto but the Japanese racer was closing in whilst in sixth place Beretta was fighting hard with Paveraud’s Honda. On lap nine the leaders started lapping the backmarkers and Nemoto took advantage of Soucek and Millroy banging wheels to slip past them both and take the lead. On lap twelve the pit window opened and Beretta stopped to hand over to Schandorff. The Dane was quickly up to speed and in clean air began making inroads into the leading group. Nemoto pitted from the lead on lap fifteen and when the race settled down once again his team-mate Moulin was running in third just behind Schandorff. Out front was Al Zubair and on lap twenty-three Schandorff pulled off a perfect overtake to move into the lead of the race. Moulin caught Al Zubair on the final lap and at the very last corner took advantage of a small error from the Porsche driver to slide down the inside and claim second place by less than two tenths of a second.
Beretta and Schandorff leave Paul Ricard at the top of the standings, tied on points with the Bentley pair of Peklin and Pepper with Moulin and Nemoto in fourth overall.