Emil Frey Racing made it two wins from two as Mikael Grenier and Norbert Siedler played pit strategy to perfection to take victory in GT Open at Paul Ricard.
The start of the race proved to be a complete unravelling for Teo Martin Motorsport as all three of its McLaren 720S GT3s were involved in a first lap shunt.
Third-placed Henrique Chaves was tagged into a spin, which set off a chain reaction as Fran Rueda also span. Team-mate Marcelo Hahn in the sister car avoided Chaves but was blind-sided and couldn’t avoid colliding with Rueda.
While that was unfolding, polesitter Tom Onslow-Cole found himself relegated to second by Alessio Rovera in the Antonelli Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3.
After the safety car returned to the pits, Onslow-Cole wasted no time in regaining the position as he sold Rovera a dummy going into Courbe de Signes. With the Italian busy defending from that move, the Brit found a gap going into Double Droite De Beausset and squeezed his way back into the lead.
However, once the pit window opened, his team-mate Valentin Pierburg found himself in the midst of a fierce battle for Pro-Am honours. Squabbling with Ollie Wilkinson in the Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3, Duncan Cameron in the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 and Jiatong Liang in the Raton Racing Lamborghini, the German found himself yo-yoing through the order as battles raged.
That fierce competition allowed the top four pull away. After a great stop Siedler handed over to Grenier with a handy advantage as Daniel Zampieri did his best to hold off Fabrizio Crestani, while race one winner Albert Costa cleared the Pro-Am battle to lie in fourth.
Despite a stubborn defence, Zampieri couldn’t hold onto second and Crestani swept through in the SPS Automotive Mercedes. The Italian started to chase down the race leader, and got within half-a-second of Grenier but ran out of time to make an attempt to snatch the lead away from the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo driver.
Zampieri finished a lonely third, 4sec off the lead pair and 14sec ahead of Costa in fourth.
The Pro-Am battle proved to be the fiercest battle in the race as Wilkinson, Pierburg, Cameron and Liang all scrapped to finish on top of the class podium.
For a time, it looked as though Wilkinson was going to power away having made a strong move past Pierburg. However, he couldn’t make good his escape and Liang reeled him back in to take his first class win of the year in the car he shares with Raffaele Giammaria.
Third in class went to Eddie Cheever and Christopher Froggatt as the former outfoxed fellow Ferrari driver Cameron with less than ten minutes remaining.
Martin Konrad and Alexander Hrachowina swept the Am class wins as the Lamborghini pair opened up a comfortable lead over former World Series Formula V8 3.5 racer Giuseppe Cipriani.