Louis Delétraz overcame his last lap heartache at the previous SRO E-Sport GT Series round to take a lights-to-flag victory for GPX Racing at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona and assume the championship lead.
Starting on pole position in his Porsche 911 GT3.R, the Formula 2 racer controlled every element of the 60-minute race to never have his lead truly threatened and finally claim his first victory in the series.
In the early stages of the evening race, Delétraz was under initial pressure from fellow Porsche driver Federico Leo – the International GT Open champion making his debut in the championship this weekend – but the Italian was never close enough to make a move for the lead.
As the race went on, Leo started to drop back from the leader with a gap of more than three seconds at points as Audi R8 LMS drivers Lorenzo Marcucci and Arthur Rougier started to apply the pressure on his second place.
Leo defended strongly in his Porsche for the first three-quarters of the race, but lost out to a great move by Marcucci who went pulled off a great outside-to-inside switchback at turn 10 to muscle up the inside of the bright yellow Porsche going into the quick left of turn 11.
With Marcucci free to close down the 3.3sec deficit to Delétraz, it appeared as though there could be a late battle on display as the Audi driver put in a number of blisteringly-quick laps. Despite the leader encountering traffic on the final lap, Marcucci needed another tour around the Spanish circuit to try to make a move – finishing second by 0.906sec.
Third went to Leo who found himself all alone on track having lost time to the lead pair but pulling a gap to Rougier who had to manage his Audi in the closing stages and finished a distant fourth.
Ivan Pareras took fifth in yet another Audi having been sat in the same position from the very start of the race – his pace matching the leading quartet meaning he never had the opportunity t0 join up on that group having lost a chunk of time in the opening laps.
One of the biggest climbers in the race was David Perel in the Coach Dave Academy Ferrari 488 GT3. Running eighth after the opening ten minutes, he tried to make a move on the Audi of Simone Di Luca at the turn 10 left-hander but carried a touch too much speed and they both went off-track. Perel fell to 10th and Di Luca slipped to 13th – the latter ultimately finishing 18th.
Perel didn’t go backwards though, as he took the bit between his teeth and proceeded to power his way past the sister Ferraris of Nicolas Hillebrand, Ezequiel Perez Companc and David Fumanelli and then the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo of Dan Wells to take the flag in 6th. The South African, however, received a post-race penalty to drop him down to 11th.
Wells was classified 6th, with Companc only a second behind in 7th. Fumanelli and Hillebrand took 8th and 9th in a good showing for the Ferrari squad, whilst Andy Soucek rounded out the top ten.
Finishing outside the points in 12th – just behind the David Perel Ferrari – was former championship leader Ben Barnicoat in the 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren which won at the Nürburgring having been hit by Mikael Grenier’s Lamborghini on the opening lap after reports of Grenier’s middle (of three) computer screens switching off at the start meaning the Canadian lost sight of everything ahead of him!
The fifth round of the SRO E-Sport GT Series takes place on Sunday 21 June with the track to be decided by a public vote.