The final race weekend of the 2023 season of the prestigious Fanatec GT2 European Series championship at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France decided the final standings of the entire series, which we have followed since the very beginning at the Monza circuit. The Czech team RTR Projects and its rider Jan Krabec were still nursing a chance for a sensational title, entering the final races with only one point behind Klaus Angerhofer of the KTM True Racing factory team, who shared the car with rider Sarmini.
“To the last decisive race weekend of the season at the Paul Ricard circuit, the team and I went with the idea that we would leave absolutely everything there. We knew we had to place well in qualifying. I drove on this track for the first time ever, and even though I was preparing before the race on the simulator, it was necessary to set up the car well during practice sessions and learn the very difficult track,” said Jan Krabec. “Both two days we did the last details on the setup, the car worked perfectly. Over the course of the season, we turned the KTM X-Bow GT2 into a superbly balanced racing tool. I already know that I will miss riding with him over the winter,” added Krabec.
After the promising times from Friday’s training came the evening qualification, which was very interesting for the spectators with the setting sun, but extremely difficult for the riders. “Even though qualifying was in challenging lighting conditions, we managed it perfectly and got two valuable points. At the same time, we showed everyone that we have a good pace,” Krabec evaluated the team’s efforts.
In the qualification for the first race, the Czech rider won first place in the Am category, and he repeated this great result in the qualification for the second race, which ended practically in complete darkness. Thanks to this, the Czech driver gained valuable points for the overall ranking in the championship.
The main thing is not to make a mistake and avoid collisions
In the first race, the Czech rider made full use of the great result from both challenging qualifications. “I had a good start in the first race, I avoided collisions at the start and drove it in start-finish style. I watched my position and drove to win the AM class. This time I forgave the fights with the drivers in the Pro-Am class,” Krabec described the first race, in which he eventually won with a lead of 36 seconds ahead of the second-placed Sarmini and Angerhofer. He then leapfrogged him in the lead of the championship and also thanks to the victory in both qualifications he had the necessary point lead.
You can watch the first race (with English commentary) from the recording:
In the second race, which was run on the same day as the first race, Krabec also started from the first position in the Am category. The Austrian rival knew that he had to win the second race and hope that the Czech rider would finish third at best. There was certainly no shortage of drama. “I didn’t see the traffic lights properly at the start, the car in front of me also fell asleep and I had a worse reaction time,” said Krabec at the start of the race.
However, the Czech competitor fought back after a difficult start, when he dropped to third place in his category. He was closing in on Sarmini, but it was not easy to overtake him in the same car. “Sarmini defended really well, so we decided to go to the pits as soon as possible and try to use the free space on the track to set faster times,” adds Krabec about the course of the race. “We had to spend 14 seconds longer in the pits, but I managed to drive very good times. I overtook Angerhofer and in a direct fight I managed to pass him door to door. There was also a contact, he pushed me off the track,” Krabec describes the dramatic course of the race.
Krabec then increased his lead and caught up very quickly to the Mercedes with the number 888, which was leading the Am category, but since it was a new participant in the championship, his position was not counted in points.
“The Mercedes driver defended his position aggressively, beyond the limits of the rules. When I tried to overtake him on the finish line, he pushed me into the pit wall and I even had to brake to avoid a collision. I lost a lot of time. Angerhofer took advantage of this, and he overtook us, and the last few laps we drove close behind. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance and finish second because it was clear to me that Angerhofer would attack. Two turns before the finish, an opportunity came and I finally overtook the Mercedes,” Krabec explained the moments of the dramatic finale.
You can also watch the second exciting race from the recording:
With his seventh victory this year, the Czech racer confirmed an absolutely fantastic season and above all the title in the entire European Fanatec GT2 European Series championship.
“What seemed unbelievable at the beginning, we were able to work off during the season, literally toil and, above all, repeat it. The team mechanics did a great job throughout the year and the car was always perfectly prepared. We avoided incidents and unnecessary mistakes, even if everything didn’t always go according to plan. But we left everything there in the last weekend, so now for the first time I’m not afraid to say that we deserved the title! Thank you to the entire RTR Projects team,” Jan Krabec evaluated an absolutely sensational season for Czech motorsport.
Just for the record, in the Pro-Am category the title was won by Henry Hassid and Anthony Beltoise with the Audi R8 LMS GT2, who won by a single point ahead of Reinhard Kofler with the factory KTM X-Bow GT2. He won both races and would have jumped the Audi driver in points, but after the first race he received an additional ten-second penalty, dropped to third place and this cost him the necessary points.