Rast Returns to Winning Ways at Zolder
Rene Rast piled the pressure on championship leader Nico Mueller by sweeping both races of the DTM’s first meeting at Zolder this season.
Rast converted his Race 1 pole into a victory on Saturday before winning Sunday’s contest from third on the grid behind a BMW front-row lockout.
It marked a timely return to the top step of the podium for the Audi driver, whose winless streak stood at seven races heading into the Belgian weekend.
Mueller finished third in Race 1 before slipping to ninth in Race 2 – his worst result of the season – leaving the Swiss driver with a reduced 10-point championship lead.
Rast dominated the first encounter to win by almost 19 seconds from Robin Frijns, who is the other key title contender with four races to go.
Frijns started behind BMW’s Timo Glock and overtook the ex-Formula One driver at the first turn, only for Glock to get back ahead of his rival during the pit window.
Frijns then ate away at the deficit and made a successful move for second into Turn 1 with 22 minutes remaining.
Mueller also got past Glock, who settled for fourth, although the BMW driver got to start Race 2 from the front of the grid alongside Sheldon van der Linde.
However, Rast made a lightning start to squeeze past two M4s, while Glock spun around after colliding with Ferdinand Habsburg whose Audi also performed a rapid launch.
Rast went on to win from Audi’s Mike Rockenfeller and BMW’s Lucas Auer, as prime contender Frijns retired after clattering the outer Armco wall lining the pit exit.
The DTM heads back to Zolder for its penultimate round of the season this weekend.
Oregon Pair Twice Profits from Penalties
Dorian Boccolacci and Kevin Gilardoni posted Oregon Team’s first and second Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe wins in quick succession at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The Franco-Swiss pairing won the opening 50-minute race held in wet conditions after Patrick Kujala and Dean Stoneman were hit with a three-second time penalty, while a drive-through for the Bonaldi Motorsport duo helped determine the result of the dry second contest.
In Race 1, Kujala was called up for his part in a clash with Boccolacci at Turn 5 while the two GTWC Europe Endurance Cup regulars battled for the lead in the opening stint.
Three seconds were added to the final race time of Kujala and Stoneman’s Bonaldi car, which only crossed the finish line seven-tenths ahead of the Oregon machine.
The lead switched to a different car shortly after the on-track incident as Jonathan Cecotto charged past both Boccolacci and Kujala, only for the Venezuelan to drop back behind the Bonaldi driver when he ran too deep into the Turn 10 hairpin.
Stoneman picked up Kujala’s lead during the driver swaps while Gilardoni vaulted Cecotto’s teammate Patrick Liddy in the pits.
However, a late-race safety car demanded Stoneman to eke out a three-second gap in order to negate his car’s penalty, but the British driver couldn’t manage to do so.
In Race 2, a penalty again denied Stoneman and Kujala as Boccolacci and Gilardoni came through to win.
This time it was a drive-through for speeding in the pit lane during the mandatory driver swaps that undid the Bonaldi pairing’s quest for victory.
However, Stoneman’s recovery to fourth moved him into the lead of the championship heading into the next round which supports the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
DKR Engineers Third Win of Season
Laurents Hoerr and Jean Glorieux will carry a 25-point lead into the Michelin Le Mans Cup season finale after taking their third win of the year in a chaotic two-hour race at Monza.
The DKR Engineering duo won from Cool Racing’s Nicolas Maulini and Edouard Cauhaupe, who are the only other drivers capable of clinching the title at Portimao.
Glorieux started from third but moved up a position and onto Maulini’s tail when Alex Kapadia was forced to pit early on with wheel damage to his Duqueine D08 Nissan.
The gap between the two leaders never had a chance to expand as three safety cars interrupted the flow of the event.
The first came when Paul Lafargue spun into the gravel at Turn 5, while the second occurred when the Racing Experience Duqueine rotated and became stuck on the curbs at the Turn 1 chicane.
A third safety car came out shortly after the race restarted for the second time, with Lafargue again the guilty party.
The French driver crashed heavily coming out of Variante Ascari, while his stricken IDEC Sport Ligier triggered a series of other incidents behind as drivers struggled to avoid the stationary car.
Maulini and Glorieux continued their lead battle after the wreckage had been cleared with Graff’s Rory Penttinen running close behind courtesy of the repeated field bunching.
Cool Racing held the lead after the pit stops but Maulini’s co-driver Cauhaupe couldn’t keep Hoerr at bay and the DKR driver found a way past at Turn 4 before going on to take the checkered flag by a three-second margin.
In GT3, the Porsche 911 GT3 R of Julien Andlauer and Nicolas Leutwiler took the race spoils while Giacomo Piccini and Rino Mastronardi secured the 2020 class title with a round to spare.
Third place was enough to clinch for Piccini and Mastronardi, who now have six consecutive podiums in their 2020 account.
Other Weekend Action
***Hiroaki Nagai and Yuta Kamimura won the three-hour Super Taikyu race at SUGO, which was held in tough weather conditions. The Porsche Center Okazaki duo won from the Fuji 24 Hours-winning Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo that was driven on this occasion by Daisuke Yamawaki, Shinichi Takagi and Shaun Thong.
***Cooper MacNeil confirmed himself as a triple Ferrari Challenge North America champion by finishing second in the first race of the weekend at Sebring. 2012 Le Mans LMP2 class winner Enzo Potolicchio triumphed in Race 1 before MacNeil won by 13 seconds from the Venezuelan in Race 2.
***Ligier JS P4 prototype driver Kevin Balthazar mastered Monza to win both races that made up round four of the Ligier European Series. The victories in the GT-based JS 2R class went to Mathieu Martins and Natan Bihel.
***The German GTC series did not hold its planned round in support of the DTM at Zolder. The championship, which has put on two sets of GT3 races this year at the Lausitzring and the Nürburgring, did not release a reason for the cancelation. It is due to return on at Hockenheim on Nov. 6-8.
News & Notes
***Several leading GT3 teams have committed to the Gulf 12 Hours next January, as confirmed in the event’s preliminary entry list reveal last week. The 22-strong GT3 field includes entries from the likes of Haupt Racing Team (Mercedes-AMG), M-Sport (Bentley), Car Collection Motorsport (Audi), GPX Racing (Porsche), AF Corse (Ferrari) and 2 Seas Motorsport (McLaren).
***GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS held the first points-paying round of its official esports series, with Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour class winner Duvashen Padayachee prevailing in the race for real-world drivers. The Australian finished 31 seconds clear of second-placed JiaTong Liang. Karl Peterson won the round for sim racing specialists, while both contests were held at Monza on Assetto Corsa Competizione.
***Jake Dennis has been named the official High Performance Development Driver of R-Reforged, the bespoke road car developer that exists in the same family of businesses as Aston Martin GT3 team R-Motorsport. Dennis has driven for R-Motorsport in various high-profile races since 2018.
***GT4 European Series outfit AGS Events is set to field two Aston Martin Vantage GT8Rs in next year’s Dubai 24 Hours. Endurance-info reports that the French team is planning to move towards GT3 competition, using the GT8R – which is essentially an upgraded Vantage GT4 – as a stepping stone to the senior formula.
***The FIA has opened up a tender for the promotion of a new electric-powered GT series. Confirmed in Friday’s World Motor Sport Council meeting, “interested parties” are invited to submit proposals to the FIA GT Commission. A similar tender has been established by the FIA Touring Car Commission. Timelines for the potential launch of the two series have not been disclosed.
***Last weekend’s European Le Mans Series round at Monza marked the 100th race event organized by Le Mans Endurance Management – which covers WEC and ELMS – since 2012. Only three people from the organization team have been at all 100 events: series CEO Gerard Neveu, race director Eduardo Freitas and media delegate Jeff Carter.
On this weekend: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (Petit Le Mans), IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta), DTM (Zolder), ADAC GT Masters (Red Bull Ring), International GT Open (Spa-Francorchamps)