Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS arrived at the Nürburgring this weekend for the second part of the back-to-back races with the Sprint Cup round at Brands Hatch. Teams and drivers will have a bit more time during the race than seven days ago, as the Nürburgring again hosts a 3-hour race for the Endurance Cup.
➤ With Vincent Abril and part of the Haupt Racing Team in Austria for the fifth round of the DTM season, Abril is substituted by Nico Bastian at the Nürburgring. As the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT is at an uncharacteristic zero points in the championship, there is hardly a clash of interest for Abril. Mercedes-AMG works driver Bastian raced the first half of the season with GetSpeed Performance in the Pro-Am Cup, however, is no stranger to Haupt Racing as he also contested the last two Nürburgring 24-hour races with the team from Meuspath.
➤ Another high-profile driver absent this weekend is Kelvin van der Linde – normally piloting the #32 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 alongside newly crowned Sprint Cup champions Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts. Like Abril, the South African is also on DTM duty. His replacement driver is none other than 2017 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup champion Robin Frijns, making his second appearance of the season after having contested the Spa 24 Hours with WRT.
➤ Also not at the Nürburgring, but for different reasons, is Charlie Eastwood. Scheduled to take part in the race with Oman Racing Team in the Pro-Am Cup, a positive COVID-19 test has forced him out, being replaced by Spa and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Maxime Martin.
➤ The Bronze Test on Friday saw eleven cars take to the track, with the #93 Sky – Tempesta Ferrari 488 GT3 of Jonathan Hui and Rino Mastronardi posting the quickest lap of the day with a 1m56.007s.
➤ Saturday held the ‘proper’ start of the weekend with Free Practice in the morning. Jules Gounon – sharing the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 with title contender Raffaele Marciello and Felipe Fraga – set a fastest lap of 1m54.789s.
➤ Practice was followed Pre-Qualifying which was topped by Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver Marvin Dienst. His 1m54.811s set the Silver Cup car on top before the final session on Saturday. REPORT
➤ Mirko Bortolotti, Marco Mapelli and Andrea Caldarelli showcased their combined strength by grabbing pole position on Sunday morning. The #63 Orange1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 narrowly beat the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Raffaele Marciello, Felipe Fraga and Jules Gounon. Their three-lap combined time of 1m54s633 was just .045s faster than the Mercedes’. Most remarkably, this is FFF’s third pole position in four Endurance Cup events. Only at Spa did the Italian-Chinese team not start from first place. REPORT
➤ Jota Sport spend two days between Brands Hatch and the Nürburgring repairing the #38 McLaren 720S GT3 following Ollie Wilkinson’s violent crash in the UK. The team rebuild the car from the ground up before shipping it off to Germany for the Endurance round. However, despite the effort, the McLaren has been retired from the weekend as Ollie Wilkinson pulled out on Sunday morning – the left-knee injury sustained in the crash proving to be too painful to continue the weekend and two-driver entries in the Pro class are not permitted.
➤ SRO unveiled the 2022 calendars for both GT World Challenge Europe and GT World Challenge America on Saturday in the paddock. Most notably in Europe – especially considering the location the calendars were unveiled – the Nürburgring has been dropped and replaced instead by a round at Hockenheim.
➤ Also of note to British readers, there’s still just one round in the UK for 2022, with just the Sprint Cup round at Brands Hatch for British fans. It moves back to its traditional end of April/start of May date too (April 30-May 1), having moved to August in 2021 for COVID-19 related reasons. The remaining calendars for SRO’s suite of series across the globe will be unveiled next month at the final round of the season in Barcelona.
➤ 2022 calendar
8-9 March / Circuit Paul Ricard – Pre-season test days
8-10 April / Monza – Endurance Cup
30 April-1 May / Brands Hatch – Sprint Cup
13-15 May / Magny-Cours – Sprint Cup
3-5 June / Circuit Paul Ricard – Endurance Cup
17-19 June / Zandvoort – Sprint Cup
21-22 June / Spa-Francorchamps – Test days
1-3 July / Misano – Sprint Cup
28-31 July / TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa – Endurance Cup
2-4 September / Hockenheim – Endurance Cup
16-18 September / Valencia – Sprint Cup
30 September-2 October / Barcelona – Endurance Cup
➤ PRE-QUALIFYING REPORT | QUALIFYING REPORT | PRE-RACE NOTEBOOK | LIVESTREAM | RACE REPORT | INTERVIEW MIRKO BORTOLOTTI
➤ Watch the race today live at 14:45 CEST on GT.REPORT/live.
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