The Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup powered by AWS has arrived at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the final race of the season. Today, only the Endurance Cup will be decided as WRT were early to wrap up the Sprint Cup and combined GTWCE titles.
➤ 47 cars are entered for this weekend’s finale which returns to the Catalan track for the first time since 2019 – having hosted the Sprint Cup finale in 2020 in a last-minute change to complete a COVID-19 pandemic affected season.
➤ 4 teams are still in the hunt for the overall Endurance Cup. Alessandro Pier Guidi, Côme Ledogar and Nicklas Nielsen hold the lead with 77 points. The Iron Lynx Ferrari trio scored big at the Spa 24 Hours where they won the race and held the lead at the 6 and 12-hour marks to score the maximum available points in the race, only failing to grab the single point awarded for pole position. They are trailed by Sprint Cup champions Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts (WRT, 64 points), former champions Andrea Caldarelli, Mirko Bortolotti and Marco Mapelli (FF Racing Team, 61 points), and Raffaele Marciello and Jules Gounon (AKKA ASP, 54 points). While with 56 points Kelvin van der Linde would also be a contender – had he not shared the car with Vanthoor and Weerts – the South African instead is racing for the championship in DTM this weekend at the Norisring.
➤ The clash with the DTM at the Norisring has brought former Sprint Cup champion Robin Frijns back to the series for his fourth substitution of the season. This time around, the Dutchman joins Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts in their quest to complete the GT World Challenge Europe sweep by also taking the Endurance Cup.
➤ Another team affected by the DTM finale is Walkenhorst Motorsport. With its forces stretched thin at the Norisring, Nürburgring and Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the team has elected to forgo the NLS season finale with its GT3 machinery bringing only the BMW M2 Cup and M4 GT4s to the Nürburgring. Due to the busy season, Walkenhorst has created dedicated crews for its GT World Challenge Europe and DTM operations. On the drivers’ side, Timo Glock, Sheldon van der Linde and Marco Wittmann, who have raced the BMWM6 GT3s in the first three GTWCE races of the year, have been replaced for the Nürburgring – when they were racing at Spielberg – and Barcelona rounds by Nick Catsburg, Jake Dennis and Nick Yelloly.
➤ Two new cars make their debut in the GTWCE this weekend: Saintéloc Racing has been given the opportunity to debut the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo 2 – driven by Dennis Lind, Markus Winkelhock and Finlay Hutchison – and BMW Motorsport has brought the M4 GT3 to Montmeló after two successful outings at the Nürburgring, raced by works drivers Philipp Eng, Augusto Farfus and Jesse Krohn pilot the BMW. As both machines are not yet homologated, they are entered in the Invitational class.
➤ Fastest of the Bronze-rated drivers during Friday’s Bronze Test were #77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 drivers Adrian Amstutz and Miguel Ramos, setting a 1m47.804s. They were 0.022s quicker than the #20 SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Valentin Pierburg and Martin Konrad.
➤ The only Free Practice session held on Saturday morning saw the #20 SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 go one step higher and claim the fastest time. Responsible for the 1m45.468s was Dominik Baumann, the Gold driver of the trio.
➤ Later on the day, in Pre-Qualifying, the title contending #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Raffaele Marciello, Felipe Fraga and Jules Gounon flexed its muscles. Having been second-fastest in the training session, the trio set a lap time of 1m46.510s to stay ahead of the #87 sister Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Simon Gachet, Thomas Drouet and Konstantin Tereschenko. GetSpeed Performance completed the Mercedes-AMG top 3.
➤ Finally, in the three-part Qualifying session on Sunday morning, was once again a success for the #63 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Andrea Caldarelli, Marco Mapelli and Mirko Bortolotti who set a three-lap average of 1m44.814s. Their fourth pole position of the season – only missing out on the Spa 24 Hours pole – the Lambo crew will need all the help they can get to win the championship being 16 points – one less after the bonus point for pole – behind. The Italians find a familiar face next to them on the front row as the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Raffaele Marciello, Jules Gounon and Felipe Fraga join for the fourth time this year alongside FFF on the grid to keep their title hopes alive – the trio missing out on pole by just 0.009s. Meanwhile, the #32 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Dries Vanthoor, Charles Weerts and Robin Frijns starts tenth, on place in front of the championship leading #51 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 piloted by Alessandro Pier Guidi, Côme Ledogar and Nicklas Nielsen.
➤ The GT1 name has been resurrected for the GT1 Sports Club Powered by Curbstone Events which makes its debut this weekend in Barcelona with a two-day prologue held on Sunday and Monday. Unlike its predecessor, the GT1 Sports Club will serve as a track day for highly exclusive cars such as the 720S GT3X, P1 GTR and Senna GTR models from McLaren, Porsche 935, Lamborghini SCV12, Ferrari LaFerrari FXX-K and Pagani Zonda Revolución.
➤ During SRO’s annual press conference, CEO Stéfane Ratel reported on the organisation’s continued push to reach a sustainable operation, noting that only 5-percent of its carbon emissions are caused by the race car themselves, everything else coming from the logistics, team operations, etc.
➤ Next year, the Am class will be replaced by the Gold Cup, opening the door for a combination of Pro, Silver and Bronze drivers.While dispensation has been granted to teams to already run these kind of line-ups, SRO will now make it official. The Pro class in the Sprint Cup will limited to Platinum-Gold instead of full Platinum line-ups.
➤ A 3D automated system to control track limits will be officially introduced in 2022 replacing the manual system where officials would monitor corners notorious for short cutting.
➤ With the every increasing professionalisation of the GT World Challenge, the SRO has decided to overhaul the driver categorisation in a bid to distinguish the Silver drivers between young and inexperienced drivers and those with more experience – namely with a history in karting and single-seaters – and move the best Silvers up to Gold. The original intent of Silver drivers was for young drivers to be categorised as such but under the assumption that most of them would be newcomers to racing. Gold drivers will also be quicker moved to Platinum. The SRO will propose to the FIA to amend the official FIA driver categorisation, but should the governing body chose not to, SRO will go ahead and upgrade – but not downgrade – drivers.
➤ Watch the race today live at 14:45 CEST on GT.REPORT/live.
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