The first sprint races of the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe season produced a mixed set of results for Garage 59. The #188 crew of Alexander West and Jonny Adam grabbed Pro-Am pole position for each of the one-hour races, took a podium finish in Race 1 and finished fourth in Race 2. The Silver class crew of the #159 Aston Martin, Tuomas Tujula and Nicolai Kjærgaard, had to settle for sixth in class in Race 1 and unfortunately had to retire from Race 2 after contact.
Saturday’s qualifying session for Race 1 produced the first pole position of the season for the #188 Aston Martin, with West the fastest of the Pro-Am runners. Tujula qualified in 14th place overall, which put the #159 Aston Martin in seventh place in the Silver class.
The first race got underway late on Saturday night. When the race went green, West got away well, holding onto first place in the Pro-Am class. Tujula also got away well but had some understeer to deal with, which resulted in the #159 Vantage going straight at Turn 3. He quickly recovered and set off in pursuit of the other Silver class cars.
Running in the dark provided all of the drivers with useful night time experience ahead of the long night of the Spa 24 Hours, which is coming up in the summer. In the #188 Vantage, West ran well but had to eventually yield to two cars before he pitted to hand over to Adam, just prior to the halfway mark. Tujula came in a few minutes later to hand over to Kjærgaard.
With 30 minutes remaining on the clock, Adam pushed hard to regain the positions in Pro-Am but there just wasn’t enough time left and he crossed the line in third place in class, with Kjærgaard finishing sixth in class in the sister Vantage.
Qualifying for Race 2 was a resounding success again for the #188 crew as Jonny Adam took 12th position overall and the Pro-Am pole. In the Silver class, Nicolai Kjærgaard scored seventh place for the #159 Vantage.
Both Adam and Kjærgaard held position at the start and Adam in particular had a busy opening stint, fighting with some of the Pro class entries. After the pit stops it transpired that one competitor had got very lucky with a full course yellow and had jumped the #188 Vantage in the pits. West got his head down but the final podium position slipped from his grasp in the closing stages of the race, not helped when the Safety Car took away the advantage that he held.
“Overall we’re happy with our qualifying performances at Magny Cours,” said Adam. “Now we need to work on our race pace. We were very unlucky in Race 2 not to have a better result but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Roll on Paul Ricard!”
Luck wasn’t on the team’s side today as the Safety Car that bunched up the pack in the final minutes was actually sent out while marshals removed the #159 Vantage from the gravel.
“I had an extremely good restart after the previous safety car and I was moving up the field rapidly,” explained Tujula. “Then when I attempted to overtake the #89 Mercedes at Turn 14 he changed his line in the braking zone and there was nothing to be done at that point.”
The resulting contact forced Tujula to retire the #159 Vantage from the race.
Next on the schedule for Garage 59 is the Ricard 1000kms race, which is coming up at the end of this month.