Alexey Nesov takes Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series victory at Spa

Alexey Nesov takes Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series victory at Spa

Nesov makes it two as Madpanda emerges ahead in tight Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series scrap at Spa
Laurin Heinrich narrowly misses the outright win, but celebrates Pro victory for Rutronik Racing
Nicolas Baert scores first Gold class success for Comtoyou Racing

Alexey Nesov bounced back from disappointment at the previous round to score a superb second Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series victory for Madpanda Motorsport at Spa.

In a thrilling race held on Assetto Corsa Competizione, Nesov narrowly held off the charging Rutronik Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R of Laurin Heinrich to secure his second win in three races, and bank both Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Teams’ Championship points and a sizable cheque for the Madpanda crew.

The Gold Cup contest turned out to be a scrappy one, with Nicolas Baert surviving the chaos best to claim a valuable class win aboard the Comtoyou Racing Audi.

Nesov scoops the prize as Heinrich hits the pits
The fight between Nesov and Heinrich was always bound to be a close one, especially since the Audi pipped the Madpanda Mercedes-AMG to pole by just 0.012s in qualifying.

Having won at the Monza season-opener but then failed to score in round two at Circuit Paul Ricard, Nesov’s Mercedes-AMG had no additional success ballast to carry, making the fight for victory between that and the Rutronik Porsche a pure contest on tactics and pace alone. Heinrich edged the latter, but it was a decisive pitstop error that swung things in Nesov’s favour.

Of the two drivers, Nesov made the marginally better start to sneak alongside Heinrich on the outside line into Eau Rouge, but his rival slammed the door shut on the corner exit to keep the Porsche ahead and from then set about building a gap. At this stage, Nesov couldn’t live with Heinrich, and by the pit window the Audi enjoyed close to a four-second gap.

Heinrich dived in for his mandatory stop a lap earlier than Nesov and should have rejoined still in front, but a delay when programming his mandatory pitstop and refuelling cost valuable seconds meaning that when Nesov completed his stop a lap later, the Madpanda Mercedes-AMG leapfrogged in front by over two seconds.

However, Heinrich wasn’t done and eroded the gap to Nesov, eventually getting within a few tenths with five minutes to run. Heinrich showed his nose into the chicane on each of the closing laps, but Nesov held on to take the win by just half-a-second. While Heinrich missed the overall victory, he did still win the Pro category, and in doing so moved Rutronik into the class points lead.

Cesar Gazeau and Ayhancan Güven enjoyed a great fight over third, albeit some way behind the runaway leaders. The battle came to a head when Gazeau’s Boutsen VDS Audi and Güven’s Dinamic GT Huber Racing Porsche went into Les Combes side-by-side late on. Both missed the braking point, ran across the rumble strips and light contact while rejoining spun Güven and settled the fight in Gazeau’s favour.

Güven recovered to fourth, ahead of the sister Dinamic Porsche of Daniele Di Amato. Nicklas Nielsen completed the top six in his AF Corse Ferrari, despite losing time at the start and being shuffled back.

The Gold Cup fight should have gone the way of Charlie Fagg in Optimum’s McLaren 720S GT3. Fagg was a constant within the top 10, and ran as high as fifth before a bevy of penalties and eventually disqualification for not serving a drive-through put him out.

Then, when a technical glitch caused Marius Zug’s Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG to slow, the class win went the way of Baert, who simply let the race Comtohim…

Other troubled runners included winner last time out Neil Verhagen, who struggled with the maximum success ballast aboard his Rowe BMW and then had to serve a drive-through for track limits. Sandy Mitchell fell foul of the pitlane speed limit and also had to do an extra tour of the pits in the K-Pax Lamborghini, while Tresor Attempto Racing’s Alex Aka was given a drive-through for contact with Zug.

The next round of the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series takes place at the Nürburgring in Germany on July 29/30.

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