McKane and Kremnicky Continue Aston Martin Dominance with France Win

Ravenwest Motorsport drivers Nathan McKane and Andrej Kremnicky give Aston Martin their fourth straight overall victory to start the 2019 GT Super Series season with their victory at the Round of France at Circuit Paul Ricard.

They would lead home a factory Aston Martin 1-2 result with championship leaders Matteo Rossi and Roland Davidson finishing the race second after putting on a dominant display in the latter two stints of the race. Both would need to rally in the first stint of the race to put themselves in a position to battle at the front later on after under-performing during qualifying on Saturday. After a slow getaway at the start dropping him outside the top fifteen, Matteo Rossi would start his charge through the midfield starting with passing Fabian Rei at the last corner to conclude the first lap of the race. Whenever the Italian would make a move for position, the former Formula 1 driver in McKane would not be far behind, the pair ending up eighth and eleventh by the time the first round of pit stops came around.

Opening the pit window would be Rossi and McKane, with Rossi pitting by himself before Mckane pitted with James James Davies and Amato Agostini responding to the early calls from the factory Aston Martin. The early pit stop with catapult Roland Davidson, taking over for Rossi, into the lead of the race after the pit stops cycled out, with the lead Solvalou Lamborghini of Morgan Le Fay continuing on in second after being at the front of the field for most of the first stint. The leader from the opening stint Joey Alliot retired during his pit stop after the driveshaft in his Carson Speedworks Corvette shattered upon launching out of his pit box. Le Fay would get to work closing the gap to the leader after Davidson overheated his tires when pushing hard during his run with clean air and would struggle for pace in the latter half of the middle stint. The factory Lamborghini driver would get into the draft of the Gulf Aston Martin but never close enough to attempt an overtake and would remain in second place for the duration of the stint.

In third for the duration of the middle stint was Nathan Mckane after taking advantage of the undercut on his first pitstop. He would take initiative away from the Gulf crew and start the final round of pit stops by himself, handing over to Andrej Kremnicky to end the race. Pitting the next two laps were Davidson and Le Fay, but while Le Fay retained the position ahead of Kremnicky on her out lap, the Slovakian driver would overhaul the Solvalou driver at turn 10 a few laps later to become the defacto second place car while the pit window was still open. The pair would start to work together to close the gap to the leader Matteo Rossi, retaking over driving duties to end the race. They would get a boost to their efforts when Rossi started to struggle to clear the lapped car of Ernest Bruno in the Globex Scorpio Corvette, and then the battling pair of Natsuki Yaname and Denis van Walwijk in his factory Ferrari. With three laps remaining, Kremnicky would seize the moment and send in his Ravenwest Aston the long way around at turn 4 and pass both van Walwijk and, more importantly, Matteo Rossi for the lead of the race. Both Rossi and Le Fay would lap van Walwijk later in the lap but the damage had been done, Rossi would get close for one last chance on the final lap but it would be too little, too late; Andrej bringing home the second win of the season for Ravenwest Motorsport and the fourth straight for Aston Martin.

It would also be Aston Martin’s second straight victory in the independent’s class as the Team Falken Tire duo of John Magnus and Olivia Geiszler were once again the main benefactors of the struggles by the early pace setters within the class. The top two starters in class, the Oran Saleen and LKM Lamborghini, both retiring at different points of the race with mechanical troubles left the race for independent’s honors wide open. The main two that would take advantage and take the fight to the remaining front runner in class, the number 3 Boutsen Ginion Corvette of Melanie Bourne and Marie Alberta Luisa, where the Falken Aston through following the pit stop example of the lead Aston Martin entries, and the Euromotor Lister with their strong pace in the second half of the race. After the second round of pit stops the Falken Tires entry jumped passed the Boutsen Corvette using that undercut to its advantage and never looked back. The Euromotor International Lister Storm of Patrick Feldhoffer and Helena Bertinelli would try to close the gap to Bourne late but a surging run in the final stint by Markus Jacobson left Bertinelli more focused on retaining their tenth place in the overall running order. The Finn in the factory MacMillan Ford would get close the gap but ultimately ran out of time to mount an attack for tenth place, giving Feldhoffer and Bertinelli their first points of the season for the team currently struggling in their maiden AutoReject World Series campaign, and their first points in GTSS competition since the season finale last year in Suzuka.

Other notables finishing in the top ten include the other MacMillan Ford of former Formula 1 and ARWS champion Rhys Davies and Tomo Kazama, with Rhys doing the heavy lifting early on to move his Ford near the front of the field before the strength of the Astons came to the forefront. They finished sixth overall behind the second Solvalou Lamborghini of Emma Pescatore and Antonio Fazio in fourth, and the GP Racing Lister of Paul Travesen and Shane Sparks in fifth.

Race Results – After 66 Laps

301MWinter/Le FaySolvalou+8.612
515MTravesen/SparksGerald Pereria+32.102
7007IMagnus/GeiszlerFalken Tire+56.499
93IBourne/LuisaBoutsen Ginion+58.828
1143MOlder Jr./JacobsonMacMillan+1:02.360
1478IRodriguez/von KoenigLynxe+1:16.595
1755IDouglas/MelroseTom Douglas+1:19.300
1841ISetou/HortinBest In The World+1:19.796
2127MRestov/Van WalwijkScuderia Italia+1 Lap
2213IYaname/KozarWinton+1 Lap
2330IJenkins/BrunoGlobex Scorpio+1 Lap
2432IAxelsen/PedersenRMR+1 Lap
2514MRei/WongGerald Pereria+3 Laps*
2728MJJ.Davies/ConstantiniScuderia ItaliaEngine
30555IA+V Reyna-SanchezTom DouglasSpun Off

Fastest Lap – Car 01 (Solvalou Lamborghini – Winter/Le Fay) – 1:44.359

Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race – Patrick Feldhoffer and Helena Bertinelli: The team desperately needed a good result to raise their spirits after the disaster for the ARWS program, and boy did they get one.

Reject of The Race – BMS Scuderia Italia: With the A-Team in for their second race, the drive back into the hunt took a rough turn with a engine failure and a unscheduled pit stop because of a tire problem.