New circuits on the Porsche Supercup calendar are usually good for a surprise or two. In Le Castellet, the revelation of the weekend was the performance of Bastian Buus, who put in an outstanding shift as part of a strong BWT Lechner team performance.
The Rookies of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup are some of the top young drivers in international GT racing. Even so, for a Rookie driver to win practice, qualifying and the race, as #7 Bastian Buus (DNK/BWT Lechner Racing) did, is extremely rare. The layout of the 5.842-kilometer Grand Prix track variant at Circuit Paul Ricard seemed to suit Buus particularly well.
The French circuit was on the race plan last year, but had to be removed due to Corona and Brexit-related postponements. This season, our French drivers in particular were looking forward to a race on home soil – e.g. Florian Latorre, who drove the No. 13 CLRT Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Four more guest drivers joined the field of permanent drivers, so that again 32 race cars took to the track: #29 Leonardo Caglioni (ITA) for Ombra Racing, #35 Ariel Levi (ISR) for Huber Racing and the two Australians #38 Aaron Love and #39 Stephen Grove for Martinet by Alméras.
In Training und Qualifying, it was a pink weekend.
Hot weather, high asphalt temperatures and changing winds presented the drivers and teams with special challenges throughout the entire race weekend. The focus was on the tires, which were heavily stressed in the fast corner combinations. Added to this was the intrigue of a new circuit, which none of the four drivers at the top of the standings had ever raced before – so the top four at least shared the same disadvantage.
The two Lechner Racing drivers #5 Dylan Pereira (LUX) and #6 Harry King (GBR), as well as #25 Larry ten Voorde (NLD/Team GP Elite) and #3 Laurin Heinrich (DEU/SSR Huber Racing) delivered convincing results in Practice and Qualifying Session – but try as they might, they just couldn't get near Buus on pole.
The closest to the young Danish driver was #12 Marvin Klein (FRA/CLRT), with the second fastest time in qualifying. However, due to a penalty from the previous Supercup race in Austria, he had to relinquish his grid position. As a result, the three Lechner Racing drivers took the top three grid positions at the start of the race, confirming the top form of the team, which already has a significant lead over SSR Huber Racing in the team standings. Ten Voorde, Klein, #1 Morris Schuring (NLD/Huber Racing), Heinrich and #16 Simone Iaquinta (ITA/Dinamic Motorsport) completed the top eight grid positions for Sunday's race.
Hot race with intense duels.
Under the heat of the midday sun, the complete Porsche Supercup field started the 5th race of the season. Buus defended his pole position with the confidence of a veteran against his hard-attacking teammate Harry King. Even at the restart after a safety car phase triggered in the course of the first lap, he did not allow himself to be taken by surprise. Once again, Buus kept his lead and drove his 375 kW (510 hp) Porsche 911 GT3 Cup all the way to an unchallenged victory.
Huge relief also for Larry ten Voorde: The defending champion from Team GP Elite passed Pereira right at the start. After his disaster at the previous race in Austria when caught up in a collision that was no fault of his own, he was able to close the gap to the top of the standings again with a third place finish at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
Porsche Junior Laurin Heinrich crossed the finish line in fourth place. However, the 20-year-old lost this position due to a subsequent time penalty of three seconds: The stewards penalised the German from the SSR Huber Racing team for overtaking outside the track boundary immediately after the start. Because of this, Heinrich had to relinquish fourth place to Dylan Pereira. This allowed the Luxembourger from Team BWT Lechner Racing to defend his lead in the Overall Standings.
The drivers in the middle of the field also delivered thrilling duels throughout the race, although the French drivers, ironically, were unfortunate at times. Local hero #19 Dorian Boccolacci (FRA/Martinet by Alméras), for example, could not do any better than 12th place.
In the Rookie Classification, Bastian Buus remains undefeated in the fifth race of the season and is now well clear of his pursuers. Victory in the ProAm Classification went to the Norwegian #21 Roar Lindland (Pierre Martinet by Alméras), who was joined on the Le Castellet podium by two Frenchmen, #11 Clement Mateu (CLRT) and #22 Stéphane Denoual.
After the race at the ultra-modern Circuit Paul Ricard, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup action now moves to one of the most traditional race tracks in Formula 1: For Round 6, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars will compete on the Ardennes roller coaster in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.
One familiar face will no longer be there: #4 Michael Ammermüller (DEU/SSR Huber Racing) announced his retirement from racing at Le Castellet. In the season to date, the three-time Porsche Supercup Champion scored just 19 points.