Schandorff, Beretta Crowned GT Open Champions
Frederik Schandorff and Michele Beretta sealed the International GT Open title by finishing seventh in the opening race of the weekend at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Despite being outscored by their main challengers Andy Soucek and Al Faisal Al Zubair at the season finale, the Vincenzo Sospiri Racing duo managed able to maintain their championship lead.
Martin Kodric and Ethan Simioni claimed their second consecutive race win for 2 Seas Motorsport on Saturday, before Nick Moss and Joe Osborne won overall for Optimum Motorsport in Race 2.
Schandorff ran second in the opening stages of Race 1 behind pole-sitter Jim Pla in the guesting AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, with Kodric and Yuki Nemoto in the other VSR Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo running close behind the top two.
2 Seas Motorsport got the jump on its nearest rivals in the pit window, handing Simioni a lead that the Canadian would keep until the end of the 60-minute contest.
Pla and Thomas Drouet came through in second, their narrow 0.2-second deficit at the line reflected by a late safety car period that bunched the field up and also locked in Berretta’s seventh place that confirmed him and Schandorff as 2021 champions.
Race 2 saw Osborne start from pole in the Optimum McLaren 720S GT3. The Brit resisted pressure from two Mercedes-AMGs to build an eight-second advantage heading into the pit stops.
Osborne’s co-driver Moss emerged with a 6.5-second lead over Al Zubair, whose co-driver Soucek had made up places in the opening stint.
Al Zubair reduced his Porsche 911 GT3 R’s gap to the McLaren during the second leg but came up less than a second short, while Schandorff and Beretta took third.
Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy were crowned Pro-Am champions for Inception Racing.
Double Delight for Grasser at Hockenheim
Lamborghini squad Grasser Racing Team claimed a double race victory at Hockenheim which hosted the penultimate round of the ADAC GT Masters season.
Mirko Bortolotti and Marco Mapelli prevailed in the opener before Rolf Ineichen and Franck Perera – who were the big points scorers of the weekend – took victory in Race 2 as a Lamborghini team won in the German series for the first since in two years.
At the head of the standings, Christopher Mies and Ricardo Feller will arrive at the Nürbugring finale with a four-point edge over closest rivals Luca Stolz and Maro Engel.
Bortolotti made a strong start to Saturday’s race, clearing away from pole with only Land-Motorsport Audi driver Feller offering any resistance up to the driver changes.
Mapelli received the baton for the second leg and held on despite Mies’ attempts at finding a way past.
The German driver still banked a large 20-point score towards his and Feller’s championship bid.
Engel and Stolz took fourth after an intense battle in the middle of the top five involving several cars, while Raffaele Marciello and Maximilian Buhk lost fifth due to a 30-second time penalty for contact with one of the Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos.
The second race saw Perera make a lightning start from pole to establish a lead of six seconds, before swapping out for Ineichen who remained out front until the end.
“The season has not been the easiest for the team so far, so I’m all the more pleased with the result today,” said Perera.
Three Mercedes-AMGs battled for the remaining podium places, with Marciello and Buhk ultimately holding out against Engel and Stolz who would have drawn level with Mies and Feller at the top of the standings if they had secured second.
Aguri Returns to Winning Ways at Autopolis
Team Aguri Honda pair Tomoki Nojiri and Nirei Fukuzumi rectified a challenging start to their Super GT campaign with victory in round six at Autopolis.
The drivers of the No. 8 Honda NSX-GT won the 65-lap race by just under half a minute, ahead of Yuji Tachikawa and Hiroaki Ishiura’s ZENT Cerumo Toyota GR Supra.
Kenta Yamashita took the early lead from pole-sitter Toshiki Oyu, but was forced to serve a five-second penalty due to his Toyota undergoing a third engine change of the season.
This set Oyu back in front, but the Red Bull Mugen driver dramatically fell out of contention shortly after an early safety car when his Honda’s right-rear wheel came off.
Nakajima Racing’s Takuya Izawa became the new leader with Fukuzumi running in second, shortly before another twist occurred when a second safety car was brought out following an accident for one of the GT300-class Nissans.
The intervention came at an opportune time for pit stops to take place. Izawa was one of the last to pit, while his Honda co-driver Hiroki Otsu initially remained ahead before being quickly passed by a set of three drivers led by Nojiri.
The Aguri Honda controlled the rest of the race, with Nojiri clearing off down the road as Otsu dropped to 12th. On the other hand, Ishiura charged back from an early drive-through for his Toyota to claim a first podium of the year alongside Tachikawa.
Wells, Noble Claim Le Mans Cup Title
Tony Wells and Colin Noble held off Matt Bell and Maurice Smith to the Michelin Le Mans Cup title by four points in Saturday’s final round of the season at Portimao.
Despite only scoring two points for tenth place in the two-hour contest, Nielsen Racing’s Wells and Noble came away as champions with Bell and Smith needing to win aboard their Cool Racing Ligier JS P320 Nissan.
Mathias Beche and Ian Loggie banked Phoenix Racing’s first-ever victory in the seris by a substantial 26-second margin over Racing Spirit of Leman pair Jacques Wolff and Antoine Jung who were also sharing a Ligier.
Nicolas Leutwiler clinched the GT3 drivers’ title after winning alongside Julien Andlauer in TFT Racing’s Porsche.
The victory came after heartbreak for the Iron Lynx pair of Doriane Pin and Manuela Gostner, whose Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 retired from the lead with 15 laps to go with smoke billowing from the engine area.
Championship honors went to different parties in GT3 as Leutwiler topped the drivers’ table after Iron Lynx secured the teams’ title at the penultimate round.
***The China GT Championship was in action at Zhuhai last weekend. Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos won both 60-minute races, with Cheng Congfu and Anthony Liu winning first for the Absolute-supported FAW-VW Audi Racing Team. David Pun and Riokonig won race two in their sand-colored X Works Audi. Race 1 / Race 2
***Hunt and Lauda shared out the wins at Donington during the latest round of the Sports Prototype Cup. Freddie Hunt, the son of 1976 Formula 1 champion James Hunt, won the opening race while former FIA World Endurance Championship regular Mathias Lauda – whose father Niki won three F1 titles – were racing in liveries similar to those driven in by their fathers.
***Audi Sport Asia driver Martin Rump will team up with Daniel Bilski in B-Quik Absolute Racing’s second driver lineup for the Thailand Super Series. Defending champion Sandy Stuvik and Philip Massoud were aleady confirmed in the other Audi GT3.
***LMP3 manufacturers Ligier and Duqueine were each fined €25,000 ($29,000) for infractions during the Portimao weekend. Duqueine was deemed to have provided teams with set-up documents that were “non-legal” and gave a “clear indication” of chassis modifications. Ligier’s fine was related to its cars’ exhaust silencer weights being out of line with the numbers stated on the homologation form.
On this weekend: FIA World Endurance Championship (Bahrain), Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Final (Misano)