Flawless weekend for Hungary’s Vizin at Spa as championship reaches season halfway point

Thursday 8 June 2023

Lotus Cup Europe paid its first visit of the year to the legendary Spa-Francorchamps on the 2nd-4th June with Spa Euro Race, the Belgian circuit being a firm favourite of the championship’s drivers. Summer was in full swing in the Belgian Ardennes, the sun was out, and temperatures soared much to the joy of everyone present, as drivers and teams alike prepared for round 4 of the 2023 season.

It would be a later qualifying session than usual, the cars taking to the track at 8.39pm, the evening session providing a respite from the heat of the free practice sessions earlier in the day. It was looking to be a promising weekend for German team Komo-Tec as the lap times started to appear on the live-timing screen, with Tamás Vizin shooting to the top of the rankings and team member Sven Pettersson moving to the top of the GT Cup class, a relief for the team and driver after issues with the blue Evora GT4 left the Swede stopping and starting numerous times during the free practice sessions. Komo-Tec’s luck turned when the session was interrupted by a red flag, Wolfgang Henseler, another of their drivers, having spun and unfortunately made contact with the wall, while Henseler was fine, the same could not be said for the white #13 Evora which was in need of some attention.

Hungary’s Vizin took pole position with a lap time of 2:33.594 ahead of fellow Exige Cup drivers Nikolaj Ipsen and Paul Maréchal. Pettersson took the GT Cup pole with the 7th fastest time ahead of György Balogh and Henseler whilst Jean-Pierre Genoud-Prachex and Mark Yates set the fastest laps in their respective classes earning them each a spot on the fifth row. Nathalie Genoud-Prachex would be sitting in 12th position on the grid beside Production driver Bailey Edwards whilst David McInulty and Mick Edwards would be sharing the seventh row, both having qualified third in their class.

Vizin wasted no time as Saturday’s race got underway, putting his pole position to good use, he quickly set to work distancing himself from the pack, setting a new overall and Exige Cup lap record of 2:33.449 on only his second lap. Maréchal did his best to chase Vizin down, but the red Exige proved untouchable. The other Exiges were not to be outdone by the front runners and put on quite the show, with battles forming throughout the class. JP Genoud-Prachex held on to the lead in the 211/Open class throughout the race, consistency becoming ever more crucial to the reigning class champion as the championship reaches its halfway point, last year’s overall runner-up having been unable to score points at the first two rounds due to calendar clashes and mechanical issues.

Britain’s Yates settled easily into the Production lead, mixing it up among the 2-Elevens whilst compatriot M Edwards had a disappointing start to the race, having to return to the pits during the formation lap, leaving him starting from the pit lane and losing the advantage of the 3rd in class he’d obtained during the qualifying session. Son, B Edwards, had a promising start, holding onto 2nd place in the Production class for the first half of the race until mechanical issues left him returning to the pits with no choice but to retire from the race.

Vizin took the overall and Exige Cup win, followed by rival Maréchal, Ipsen, Rainer Börgens and Thierry Verhiest. Balogh took his first GT Cup win of the season in the #1 black and gold Evora GT4, the Hungarian having been the only driver in the class yet to have a win to his name. Daniel Palma crossed the line in 7th ahead of Pettersson and 211/Open winner JP Genoud-Prachex. N Genoud-Prachex added to her championship points with 2nd in class finishing in front of Production winner Yates and McInulty who completed the 211/Open podium. Cai Cederholm took 2nd in the Production class followed by Kai Leymann who claimed his first ever podium finish after an impressive drive. M Edwards finished in 15th, having been unable to catch up with the rest of the group.

It would be a frustrating second race for Racing Team Th. Verhiest driver Maréchal on Sunday morning, who despite a fantastic start, where he briefly took the lead, was unable to defend the position, Vizin regaining his spot at the front of the pack barely a lap later. Vizin kept a comfortable lead throughout the remainder of the race with Maréchal following in 2nd right up until the final few minutes when the #52 Exige V6 Cup R began to significantly slow down. Luxembourg’s Maréchal nursed the car around the track for the final laps unfortunately moving further and further down the rankings as he went. With 2nd place now up for grabs Ipsen, Palma and Börgens took their battle for 3rd to the next level, the three Exige drivers all fighting for the two available podium steps. Palma overtook Ipsen, moving momentarily up into 2nd before giving the position back to the Dane, the Swede having cut the chicane.

The Exiges were not the only ones getting in on the action though as Production favourite Yates decided to take on the 211/Open class cars once again in his yellow Elise Cup R, spending the first half of the race in a Genoud-Prachex 2-Eleven sandwich before settling in between N Genoud-Prachex and McInulty. B Edwards who had high hopes coming into the weekend following his race win in Oschersleben last time out had all hopes dashed as he found himself forced to retire once again, missing out on the 2nd place which had seemed within reach.

It would be a faultless weekend for Vizin as he took the chequered flag in race 2, his 4th outright win this season, the ex-champion having topped the rankings in every single session at the Belgian circuit. Ipsen took 2nd followed closely by Palma and Börgens. After a race long battle, Verhiest finished 5th just ahead of GT Cup winner Balogh. JP Genoud-Prachex took yet another 211/Open win ahead of wife Nathalie and Production winner Yates. Maréchal found himself down in 10th after a disappointing end to the race. McInulty completed the 211/Open podium in 11th ahead of Production drivers M Edwards, Cederholm and Leymann.

Lotus Cup Europe will return to Spa-Francorchamps with a 50-minute race with pit stop on 14th & 15th July where it will be supporting the 25 Hours VW Fun Cup event.

Podium standings:

Race 1OverallExige CupGT Cup211 OpenProduction
1st T Vizin T Vizin G Balogh JP Genoud-Prachex M Yates
2nd P Maréchal P Maréchal S Pettersson N Genoud-Prachex C Cederholm
3rd N Ipsen N Ipsen D McInulty K Leymann
Race 2OverallExige CupGT Cup211 OpenProduction
1st T Vizin T Vizin G Balogh JP Genoud-Prachex M Yates
2nd N Ipsen N Ipsen N Genoud-Prachex M Edwards
3rd D Palma D Palma D McInulty C Cederholm

Driver of the weekend: Spa-Francorchamps

Tamas Vizin – Exige V6 Cup R

Pole, 2 race wins and new outright Lotus Cup Europe lap record for Spa-Francorchamps.


Championship standings: www.lotuscupeurope.com/standings

More pics can be found on: Facebook / Instagram