The first race of the 2017 FVA GT Series was held under brilliant sunshine in the Spielberg mountains at the Red Bull Ring, with an hour of racing ahead for each of the driver pairings. At a point between 25 and 35 minutes, each car would have to pit to refuel, fit a set of new tyres and swap drivers. The grid for the race was as follows:
At the start, Lesic had an awful getaway from pole position, plummeting down the field, while Alaniz and Bull both made amends for their average qualifying performances with a good opening part to the race. While in the lead, Ledesma set the fastest lap on lap 6, but couldn't break away from the pack. After the first 10 minutes or so of the race, this was the order:
On lap 12, disaster struck for the leaders when the Renault engine expired in Ledesma's car, forcing him to pull over at Remus Kurve. The Italian parked the car at a gap in the barriers, meaning the race was unaffected. This meant Gerard Alaniz in the sister car inherited the lead, and was making strides having already set the fastest lap on lap 10. One lap later, Fillipio Fazio lost control of the car in the final corner, Red Bull Mobile Kurve, and hit the barrier on the outside of the track. The car did manage to limp back around to the pitlane, but the damage was too great and the team retired the car. After 20 minutes of running, the order was as follows:
The pit window opened after 25 minutes, and the #7 Hibernas Lupas car was first to pit, closely followed by the #3 Lapierre Junior Team and the #12 Koenigsegg were first to come in. The Ferrari pitstop was very good, meaning Agostino inherited the car from Osterhagen in good shape. The two others suffered from very slow stops, and by the halfway stage were a lap down due to the leaders not pitting. Two laps later, Emma Wilson brought the #9 Jaguar in, and despite a relatively good stop from the Phoenix pit crew, Agostino was ahead, making him first on track of the drivers to have pitted. Standings at the halfway mark:
The #6 Ferrari, #4 NPR McLaren, #14 and 15 Lotuses and the #11 Koenigsegg all pitted on lap 21, closest to the halfway stage, and it seemed to pay off. The Lapierre #2 car pitted two laps longer and lost almost 8 seconds in the pit lane, dropping Christian Fischoff all the way down to 6th. This gave Lowell Hamm the lead after taking over from Bull, and Kip Maxwell found himself in second position after a brilliant in-lap from Parsons. Last to pit was the #12 Koenigsegg, entering the pitlane with a minute to go - having been 8th before the pitstops, Nelson Kray left the pitlane in 11th, only ahead of the pedestrian Kirova.
With fresh drivers, new tyres and a fuel load burning down, the pace quickened once more. On lap 28, Kurtis Gardner set the fastest lap of the race, also leapfrogging Jacinto van Slooten. Lowell Hamm was noticeably slower than his co-driver Bull, and this was compounded by an error when under pressure from Maxwell that cost him around 7 seconds, dropping the #6 Hibernas Lupas Ferrari to 5th position. This meant Maxwell took the lead, just under 3 seconds ahead of Agostino, with Gardner a further 5 seconds back. Further back, the field was spreading out noticeably, with a 20 second gap between 6th and 7th, and the rest of the backmarkers all with considerable gaps between them. With 7 and a half minutes to go, these were the standings:
In the final stages of the race, Kip Maxwell checked out. The NPR driver was in imperious form as team boss Nathaniel Powers watched on from the garage, while behind, Agostino, Gardner and van Slooten were battling for the final two podium spots. With only 3 laps to go, Gardner moved inside Agostino at the Remus Kurve, making slight contact with the Italian. Agostino tried to immediately fight back into Schlossgold, but outbraked himself, running wide into the gravel trap. This meant that not only did he lose second once and for all, he also lost third as van Slooten slid past. Bilophstan and Iyer also battled, with the Romanian getting the better of Iyer into Castrol Edge and pulling away at a rate of knots - the Lotus Exige of Iyer lost time to the Koenigsegg at 2 seconds a lap late on. A difficult day for Lowell Hamm ended up even worse when, on the final lap, his turbocharger failed, billowing blue smoke out down the back straight. Despite retiring, he was not the final classified finisher as Kirova finished a lap down.
The result for the Remus Race of Austria is as follows:
After an entertaining race with plenty of incident and intrigue, the NPR Team McLaren of Scott Parsons and Kip Maxwell emerged clear winners, while the quality of the field was highlighted by the fact that the six points paying positions were each filled by a different team.
With the addition of a point for the drivers of the pole-sitting #15 Lotus and the #9 Jaguar who set the fastest lap, the championship standings are below:
Next up for the 2017 FVA GT Series is the Total Race of Belgium from the Circuit Zolder. Join us then for more exciting action!