Team WRT took victory in the opening race of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, Fanatec Sprint at Brands Hatch. The #32 BMW M4 GT3 of Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts took the lead in the pit stops and despite two safety car periods, requiring a last minute strategy call, held off their nearest challengers, the #14 Emil Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 of Ben Green and Konsta Lappalainen.


Even before the start there was a major casualty as the #9 Boutsen VDS Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo of Max Götz and Jules Gounon was forced to withdraw after Götz reported an engine issue on the formation lap.

Once fully underway it was Ben Green in the #14 Ferrari who retained his pole position place through  Paddock Hill bend whilst Mattia Drudi in the #7 Cometoyou Racing Aston Martin GT3 was fending off Dries Vanthoor in the #32 BMW. With the fight continuing all the way through Druids, the Aston Martin was forced to yield at Graham Hill bend after running out of road on the exit of Druids but Drudi wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Keeping close to the BMW he was able to retake the position two corners later at Hawthorns. 

Joining the fight at the front was Tom Gamble in the #159 Garage 59 McLaren 720s GT3 who did well to avoid trouble in the first two corners as the three in front traded paint however a nudge from behind by Giacomo Altoa in the #69 Emil Frey Ferrari at Graham Hill bend saw him pushed onto the grass and dropping down and out of the top 10. Another casualty was Patric Niederhauser who found his #96 Rutronik Porsche 911 GT3 leaving the track backwards at Surtees dropping him to the back of the field.

Vanthoor finally took second place from Drudi 9 minutes into the race having got a better drive out of Stirlings before diving up the inside of the Aston Martin into Clarke Curve and onto the start/finish straight.

At the front, Green was able to benefit from the fighting behind to pick up a 0.7 second lead by the end of the first lap. Once Vanthoor was into second place he started to nibble into Green’s lead and by the pit window was just 2 seconds behind. With a do or die entry into the pit lane, Vanthoor demolished the 2 second deficit and entered the pit lane hanging off the Ferrari’s rear bumper as the two pitted together.

The Team WRT pitstop was fractionally quicker than Emil Frey and the BMW, with Charles Weerts now behind the wheel, snuck out of it’s pit box mere centimetres infront of Konsta Lappalainen in the Ferrari.

Exiting the pit lane into traffic it looked like Weerts might have a job to hold onto the lead but despite some small delays and a racey Lappalainen behind him, the Belgian hung on and once in clear air was able to build a lead.

This lasted just into the final 20 minutes when  Nicolas Baert in the #7 Aston Martin recently vacated by Mattia Drudi, was forced to stop at Druids. Having left the track exiting Stirlings and collecting a corner marker which lodged in the front grill of the Aston Martin and with the team unable to inform Baert in time that he needed to pit, he missed the pit entry and was forced to stop at Druids before the Aston Martin overheated. A full course yellow followed by a safety car was required to remove the Aston Martin which brought the field together for the final 20 minutes.

The drama still wasn’t over as with 8 minutes remaining Matisse Lismont in the #21 Cometoyou Racing Aston Martin found himself in the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend bringing out a second full course yellow. The safety car pulled in with 3 minutes remaining leaving a two lap sprint. Weerts slowed to almost a crawl at Stirlings having been advised by the team that if he could lose 10 seconds then it would be just one racing lap remaining.

Weerts timed it to perfection and comfortably led the field around the final lap to take the chequered flag ahead of the Ferrari of Lappalainen. Third place went to the #48 Winward Racing Mercedes of Lucas Auer and Maro Engel. Post race penalties for Ricardo Feller in the #99 Attempto Racing Audi saw him drop from P4, giving the place to the #159 Garage 59 McLaren 720s GT3 of Benjamin Goethe. Goethe had built on the hard work of Tom Gamble in the first stint for a masterful recovery drive back to P4 after Gamble’s first lap problems.

The Silver class was won by Aurelien Panis and Cesar Gazeau in the #10 Boutsen VDS Mercedes who finished in P5 overall and 0.7 seconds behind in P6 were the Gold Cup winners, Max Hofer and Luca Engstler bringing home the #6 LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler by One Group Audi R8.


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