11.03.2024 | News

PTWS Barcelona: Newcomer David defeats champion Soufi

A thrilling penultimate-lap pass ensured single-seater convert Hadrien David scored a memorable victory on his debut in an LMP3 car as new Prototype Winter Series champion Danny Soufi was forced to cede in the season finale at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Sunday.

Cancellation of the race scheduled for Saturday afternoon because of incessant and torrential rain meant Soufi was crowned champion without having to turn a wheel, but conditions were dry and sunny for what was now the single PTWS race the following day.

Soufi took the start from pole position and was forced to hold off a tough challenge from Mühlner Motorsport’s Moritz Kranz through the opening corners. The pair were joined by Inter Europol’s Sebastian Gravlund to form a three-car train in the early stages, with R-ACE GP’s Fabien Michal leading the chasing group in fourth.

Just before the pitstop window opened, a Full Course Yellow was called to clear the Gebhardt Motorsport Duqueine of Maxim Dirickx, who lost the car over the Turn 7 sausage kerb. The field was released to resume racing with just over 30 minutes of the 50 left and the mandatory pitstops followed.

Structured around a handicap system based on the grading of the drivers, the soloing Soufi emerged from his long stop with the lead, but only just. Rik Koen had taken over from Gravlund in the Inter Europol entry and with 19 minutes left was less than three seconds behind, while David – now in for Michal – made it a close three-way fight.

Koen began to edge towards Soufi, the gap reducing to 0.6s, with David also poised to strike. And it was the French 20-year-old who had the speed when it counted most. First, he pulled a big diving move on Koen into Turn 1 and then on the following lap loomed in Soufi’s mirrors. David made his move on the inside of the Turn 5 left-hander, the pair rubbing panels before the change of lead was confirmed into Turn 7. Soufi was then left to defend second place from Koen to the chequered flag.

“I didn’t expect that, to be honest,” said a delighted David. “The stint was really good, the pace was really strong. There was more dirty air than I expected so when I came up to the leading cars I struggled to overtake them. But when I got some free air for the last two laps it was really nice. It was our first race with this car, so I’m quite happy. It felt like a single-seater race and I also made a small mistake in the pits.”

“It was a tight race, right down to the end,” said inaugural PTWS champion Soufi. “Unfortunately tyre degradation got us, the car was just floating everywhere. But it was a good race, I had fun and a massive thank you to Konrad Motorsport. We ended up securing the teams’ and drivers’ championships this weekend, so great job.”

Behind the top three, DKR Engineering’s Laurent Hörr came through to finish fourth having taken over from John Brownson, but only after side-by-side contact with Daniel Kielwitz’s Ligier in the pitlane as the exited after the stops. Later Hörr appeared to edge Kielwitz on to the grass, but it was the latter who was penalised with a drive-through for the pitlane incident. He failed to come in and serve the punishment which was converted to a time penalty, knocking the Rinaldi Racing entry he shared with Steve Parrow down to eighth.

Juliene Lemoine recovered to finish fifth and claim second in the championship from Kielwitz and Parrow in the ANS Motorsport Ligier, despite partner Clement Moreno being forced to start from the pitlane after an off on his way to the grid. A soloing Krantz dropped out of contention at his pitstop, losing around half a minute when he struggled to restart his Duqueine. He finished sixth ahead of the CN class Nova of Kevin Rabin.

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