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"A year to learn and a year to win": Solenn Amrouche secures vice-champion title in GT-CER

Eight podiums, four class wins and an outright victory: Solenn Amrouche's rookie season in Spanish GT ended with a remarkable runner-up spot in the GPX category - as the young Frenchwoman aims to carry momentum into 2024.

Solenn Amrouche, Vortex, GT-CER 2023
Photo credits: Sergi Campdelacreu Mogas

Solenn Amrouche completed her first full season aboard the iconic Vortex with a remarkable vice-champion title in the Spanish GT Championship GT-CER, having claimed a class victory and an overall podium at the Barcelona season finale that crowned a spectacular season for the young French driver, who also finishes fourth in the overall classification.

Amrouche is a name that we're likely to hear a lot more in the coming years, as the young Frenchwoman climbs her way up the sports car ladder. A driver who has been working extra hard on her racecraft and honed her skills from grassroots to increasingly competitive sportscar racing series, Solenn has almost taken a low-profile approach and focused all her efforts on the on-track progression which is clearly starting to pay off.

Motorsport is not a foreign business for the Amrouche family, as Solenn's father Lionel is a racing driver himself and has been heavily involved in the Vortex program on multiple fronts, including the Creventic 24H Series. Solenn, though, caught the racing bug a little later.

"I arrived in this [motorsport] world a little by accident", she told us earlier this year. "My father was a driver and ever since my youngest years I accompanied him to many races", she recalls. "At the time I did not understand what was exciting about this sport."

It would be, curiously, the meeting with a fellow female racer - Swiss talent Karen Gaillard - to spark the passion for the sport.

"One day I met Karen Gaillard, who made me discover and love karting", Amrouche said. "It was clear that’s what I wanted to do, be a racing driver."

In a powerful reminder of the importance of female representation at any level, Solenn started karting in Nantes, with a three-year driving school which meant that she collected valuable experience in several races.

"Then my dad put me in my first car, a Mitjet", Solenn recalled, after switching early from karts to cars. It proved to be a good move, as she continued to learn in a very competitive environment, before starting competitions in the equally-formative Fun Cup, where she would also contest the 8-hour race in support of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans at Circuit de la Sarthe.

"After that, I continued training in the Porsche Cup with some races in ROSCAR, and I did a Driving Academy in Spain on Aston-Martin with Team Virage", she said, summing up her career up until last year. At 17 years of age, Amrouche in fact got to drive the Aston Martin GT4, also having made her debut - alongside her father Lionel - at the wheel of a Porsche 911 Cup car.

Solenn Amrouche, Vortex, GT-CER 2023
Photo credits: Sergi Campdelacreu Mogas

After testing the Vortex V8 machine, Solenn was then ready to make her competitive debut with the French team, which has always felt like a family for the Amrouche; she would tackle the Spanish GT championship in the GPX category, as well as selected races of the increasingly popular Ultimate Cup Series, where she took on the Endurance GT Touring Challenge in the 3B class.

"I fell in love with the car and this amazing family", she explained. In the Spanish-based GT-CER series, Solenn would again share the car with her father Lionel, while fellow female driver Lorina Padovani joined Solenn for their four-race campaign in Ultimate Cup, with the addition of Arnaud Gomez and Antoine Rizzo for one-off appearances on the same crew.

Amrouche soon impressed in the Spanish championship and, at the season opener at Navarra, she collected a remarkable class win in GPX, as well as a third place overall that put her on the outright podium in her first outing. The young racer did even better in Race 2, claiming another class win and a second overall. "We couldn’t dream of a better weekend", she told us after her debut weekend.

The positive trend continued at Portimao, Algarve, where Solenn collected two podiums in class - a third place in race 1 and a second place in race 2 which put the #101 Vortex in a great spot in the championship standings. While in Portugal she was just outside the overall top-ten, she bounced back at Motorland Aragon, with a pair of seventh place finishes overall - although these would represent the only two rounds where she crossed the finish line outside of the podium in the GPX category, with two fourth place finishes that nevertheless gained her 10 points each.

Consistency was indeed one of her main strengths this year; by combining clean driving with an outstanding performance at Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Solenn and Lionel Amrouche took a stellar outright win in race one, topping both the GPX as well as the overall classifications. In an emotional moment, Solenn got to take the chequered flag and stood on the overall top step of the podium after one of her best runs of the year.

A further third place in race 2 was a promising sign as the series entered its final two race meetings.

Unfortunately, an accident for her teammate just before the driver change in Jerez marked their first - and only - DNF of the season, in a penultimate round that proved to be costly in the championship fight. The competent Vortex crew, though, managed to repair the #101 machine in time for Sunday's second race, and the Amrouche duo were back on the podium, with a second place in class that kept them in contention for the title ahead of the finale in Barcelona.

Solenn Amrouche, Vortex, GT-CER 2023
Photo credits: V-Line Org

The season-ending 2-hour endurance race at Montmelo saw Solenn Amrouche teaming up with Arnaud Gomez, who qualified second in class and overall in Q1 - before Solenn clocked a brilliant third overall in Q2 that gained GPX pole position and second overall to the Vortex duo in the combined times.

Both drivers had really solid stints and, after a flawless race, they consistently battled for the overall podium. Having already reclaimed the GPX lead after the round of pit stops, Gomez snatched second overall on lap 43 - and the #101 Vortex eventually rounded out the GT-CER season with their fourth class win - and a second place overall which was also Solenn's second best result of the year after the Valencia outright win.

"Throughout this season I have seen my level evolve race after race", Solenn commented. "I am delighted with my eight podiums for my first season. All that was missing was the title... I didn’t get far", she continued.

Despite the victory, Amrouche was in fact just 1.6 points behind the eventual GPX champion, Angel Santos Avalle, whose third place secured him a grand total of 128 points.

"I was unlucky but they say that there is a year to learn and a year to win! I plan to come back in 2024 more determined than ever to win the title!"

A second place in class and a fourth place in the overall drivers' championship were nonetheless remarkable results for the young French racer, at her first season of GT racing.

The experiences in Ultimate Cup - and a one off in 24H Series - proved to be just as valuable for her development as a racing driver in the endurance format; across the four contested races in Ultimate Cup, Solenn secured three second places in class and one top-10 overall, which put her sixth in the championship standings. The seventh place at Magny Cours was in fact her strongest performance, in a high-level field that included several GT3 and GT Cup vehicles driven by experienced drivers.

A particular highlight of Amrouche's season was arguably her first participation in a 24-hour race: by entering the 24 Hours of Barcelona in September, Solenn was one step closer to her racing dreams: to keep climbing the sports car ladder.

As Vortex launched its new V.2 car, Solenn aims to continue on her positive trajectory in 2024.

Solenn Amrouche, Vortex, GT-CER 2023
Photo credits: V-Line Org



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