Yas Marina & Dubai autodrome 2022

our road to Dubai

A Swedish entry in the Super Trofeo Middle East championship.

This is the story about Stefan and Fredrik attempting to fight for podiums at the desert tracks of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

A child hood dream to enter a championship with a super fast GT race car on Formula 1 circuits will come true. Follow our preparations and road to the Arabic peninsula for the adventure of our life time!

fanatec gt2 European final in paul richard 2 OCT 2021 

#27 Stefan Larsson in Lamborghini Super Trofeo Evo GT2

Stefan took on the massive challenge to drive the final race weekend in the Fanatec GT2 European series together with Italian co driver Mauro Casadei at Paul Richard in a Lamborghini. The GT2 class is for the most powerful super cars and very competitive series made by SRO and complements GT3 and GT4 with race cars homologated for GT2 from Lamborghini, Audi, KTM, Porsche, Ferrari and Brabham in 2021.

The fifth and final race weekend of the season were hosted at the beautiful F1 track in the South of France, Paul Richard. 16 cars with 32 very experienced drivers (2 drivers per car) that together have tons of racing experience from Formula 1, Le Mans 24H, GT3, American Le Mans, Touring cars, as well as Blancpain GT. Names like Brabham, Stuck, Ratel, Leimer and Littman, just to mention a few oft he super fast race pilots that was entering the final round of the 2021 Fanatec GT2 European series.

I was pretty stoked just to be in the same drivers briefing on Friday morning as all these legends and with only one day practice on the track from last week in a BMW M2. I knew this would be a hard and tough task for me, with all these professional race car drivers that all came super prepared. Still, I felt good last week with my coach French Carrera Cup and GT3 race car driver Philippe Chatelet, where we did low 2:23's in the M2 Clubsport at the end of the only test day before the race weekend and It felt really good.

It was time for free practice 1 and I went out for the first stint. First instalment laps I had to do a lot of technical radio checks and setup the system for pit entry and exit reference points.  This was new to me and in the progress I picked up a lot of old rubber on these first laps as I drove partly outside the race line to avoid fast cars from behind. The whole practice I fought the car with a lot of over steer and struggled to get a good pace and rhythm around the track. It was the first time with the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Evo GT2 and as it is little bit less powerful than a normal Super Trofeo, as well as carrying ballast and other smaller front tires with different setup I had to adjust. In Paul Richard you cut a lot of curbs and on several places you are pushed outside of the track limits by pure speed. Hitting the curbs so hard is upsetting the car a lot and it took me some time to figure out how to do this correct, while keeping the car pointing in the right direction in speeds exceeding 200 Km/h....

I drove 20 laps in FP1 and felt quite awkward about the car and track, combined with pickup on the slicks with over steer in 200 Km/h in some of the corners it was quite tough. We studied the telemetri data during the break and we saw that I could brake 15-30 meters later in three different places,  especially after the long Mistral straights and also into super fast Verriere (5th gear corner) and the chicane after start and finish straight. In FP2 I only got 6 laps, so I concentrated all my time on the track on finding reference points for braking on the long straights and tried to hit it as late as possible when flying low at 265 Km/h.  After the two practice sessions, I really felt I needed more time in the car and on the track, this was just not enough time for me to learn both the car and every corner of the track. 

Qualification - in the dark

The Qualification was at 21:00 and that is 1,5 hour after sunset.... The Lamborghini actually have no real headlights, so that would be a little bit scary. The circuit flood lights at Paul Richard are ok, but very far from fully lit track, so for me the qualification became a real nightmare. The team also made some mistakes, by having the dashboard LED at 100% brightness and with that glowing in my eyes, I could hardly see anything. I drove only 4 laps, not a single lap with any consistency and traffic coming fast behind, I ended up in 7th row to the right of #5 Audi R8 driven by Stephane Ratel for Race 1, where I would start on Saturday. Mauro managed the qualification really well and he would start race 2, on Saturday in the late evening race from the 4th row.

Saturday - Race 1

Saturday came quick and after a good night sleep, I felt better than on Friday, I still had a cold and some cough, but with adrenaline you can cure most things... It's a huge difference to do the rolling start with these massive Super cars compared to my last year in Radicals, as you hardly see anything more than the car in front of you. 

Anyway, we lined up and the start was quite amazing with all 16 cars howling down that straight, into the first chicane. You never win an Endurance race in the first corner and I was very cautious so I was sure not be part of a crash in the start. Thankfully all cars made it through the first corners without any contact and the race was on! After some initial laps behind a group of cars in front of me, I struggled to keep up with the pace from these cars and I lost some ground. I was fighting quite a lot with the car to get it to turn in and my pace was not satisfactory to keep up with these very fast drivers. A couple of laps before I went into the pits for driver change, the Brabham GT62 spun in Beausette corner and I could gain a place from that mistake.  23 minutes into the race (total of 50), I handed the car over to Italian GT driver Mauro Casadei and he did his best to make up some grounds. We finished 6th in our class and we made no mistakes on the track and a perfect pit stop, this is what I will take away from my first international GT2 race on a Formula 1 circuit.  

Race 2 - in the dark

Mauro Casadei started race 2 that was also in the dark and lit up by the flood lights of Paul Richard. Mauro did a great job on his stint and was at one time in 2nd place in the AM class after Christoph Ulrich crashed out in the start in first chicane. After 25 minutes Mauro pitted and I jumped into the car to take the last 25 minutes and the checkered flag. At pit exit I was passed by some drivers on the straight, but I hang on to the #5 ProAm Porsche 911 GT2 with Rusteika, I was constantly coming closer as the laps counted down, but at the end I didn't want to risk anything. I was quite happy to have the pace of Rusteika in the Porsche and I was doing personal best lap times in the dark with worn out slicks.

It was a great feeling to get the checkered flag at the end, we ended up in 5th place in the AM category. My lap times improved every time I was out and with more practice including later braking, higher entry speeds into Signes after the Mistral straight that should be taken flat out in 5th gear (235 Km/h) I would match the pace of the experienced professional AM drivers in GT2 European series.

Dare to challenge yourself

Sometimes you just need to dare to challenge yourself, way above your own beliefs and capabilities. This experience in international GT2 racing have been great. I have been throwing myself head in first, but came out with my head held high. I am really proud of myself for going from Radical Cup Scandinavia experience and 15 years of track driving, into one of the toughest Supercar championships in Europe with the best drivers in this category. It has also taught me, that there are no shortcuts to success, detailed planning, testing, training and hard work is the only way forward.  At Paul Richard I was the only Rookie, taking on a GT2 racer and competing against former F1 and Le Mans race car drivers and next time I will be better prepared. I will never forget this race weekend and it has given me power to move forward in my racing career. A big thanks to Lamborghini, Mauro Casadei, Target Racing, friends and crew and of course my love Nathalie, that supported me on the race track on her birthday :-)

Ready for the challenge

For Stefan it's been a long windy road to become a race car driver, but it has been his childhood dream. It started with Motocross at young age and then at 16 years old the first interruption came and no racing until 10 years later when the Enduro bike was added and two Gotland Grand nationals was fulfilled within the coming 8 year period. At the age of 35 stefan had the money to buy his first sports car the Porsche 911 Turbo. It was just too quick for the legal road and he turned to race tracks, from there he drove a huge amount of track-days from Nurburgring to Spa as well as home ground tracks in Sweden with sports and race cars. At age 45 his son Simon started his international racing career and as a racing dad this became the focus. At the age of 54 the real debut came during the pandemic with a vice champion title in the Scandinavian Radical racing series SR-1. With many hours behind the Lamborghini Super Trofeo race car since 2018, he is ready for the ultimate challenge, to race in one of the fastest GT classes on the planet, Super Trofeo by Lamborghini Squadra Corse.