Winning Start for Defending GT Masters Champion
Reigning ADAC GT Masters champion Ricardo Feller opened his title defense with a victory and an early points lead at the 2022 season-opener alongside new co-driver Jusuf Owega.
Feller, who won the 2021 championship with Christopher Mies, combined with Owega to take the first of two 60-minute races at Oschersleben by a four-second margin before the pair finished sixth in Race 2 sharing a Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II.
Owega started the opening contest in second behind Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini driver Franck Perera, who set a new race lap record during the early stages.
The gap came down at the driver changes, with Perera’s four-second advantage being cut to one second after Feller took over the Audi in pursuit of Arthur Rougier.
Feller managed to get past Rougier on lap 33, taking a lead that the Audi Sport factory driver would increase to the checkered flag.
Rougier settled for second ahead of Sven Mueller and Joel Sturm in a Porsche 911 GT3 R run by Allied-Racing.
The second race saw Fabian Schiller and Mercedes-AMG factory ace Jules Gounon win on the first race weekend for the newly-formed Drago Racing Team ZVO outfit.
Gounon found a way past Patric Niederhauser’s pole-sitting Rutronik Racing Audi on the first lap and remained out front until the mid-race pit window.
Drago managed to keep its Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo ahead of the Rutronik machine, but only just as Schiller and Niederhauser’s co-driver Luca Engstler almost made contact when they exited their boxes for the deciding stint.
Schiller then controlled the remainder of the race, winning by 2.7 seconds over Engstler, while Raffaele Marciello and Jonathan Aberdein took third place.
The outcome of the season-opening weekend, held in front of 28,000 spectators, saw Feller and Owega take a seven-point lead over Team Landgraf Mercedes-AMG drivers Marciello and Aberdein in the championship table.
***The 2022 Italian GT Sprint Championship season kicked off with a pair of 60-minute races at Monza. The first contest went the way of Timo Glock and Jens Klingmann in Ceccato Racing’s BMW M4 GT3 before Alberto di Folco took a solo victory in Race 2 for the Imperiale Racing Lamborghini squad. Di Folco dedicated the win to his co-driver Stuart Middleton, who was taken to hospital with injuries to his left arm and leg after being accidentally struck by the BMW during the Race 1 driver change. Race 1 / Race 2
***Toksport WRT swept the inaugural event for the new Prototype Cup Germany series at Spa. Berkay Besler and Marvin Dienst were victorious in their Ligier JS P320 Nissan, while WTM and Inter Europol Competition took second in each race. The round attracted 11 LMP3 cars including four Ligiers, five Duqueines and two Ginettas. Race 1 / Race 2
***Doerr Motorsport claimed a one-two in the first race of the new ADAC GT4 Germany season before Allied-Racing won the second race at Oschersleben. Phil Doerr and Indy Dontje took a clear opening win ahead of teammates Ben Doerr and Romain Leroux in a sister Aston Martin Vantage GT4, followed by a charge from 17th on the grid to first for Allied’s teenage pairing of Vincent Andronaco and Paul-Aurel Koenig. Race 1 / Race 2
News & Notes
***Optimum Motorsport will make its Intelligent Money British GT Championship return by fielding a McLaren 720S GT3 in the Silverstone 500. Drivers for the 3-hour event, which is the third round of the season, are Nick Moss and McLaren factory driver Joe Osborne.
*** The result from the second race of the British GT opener at Oulton Park remains provisional as RAM Racing has lodged a Notice of Intention to appeal an earlier stewards decision that saw its protest against the race result rejected. The No. 11 Paddock Motorsport McLaren was declared the winner even though RAM’s No. 6 Mercedes-AMG crossed the line first. It was classified fifth after the application of a seven-second success penalty. Under normal circumstances, this penalty would have been added to the minimum pit stop time, but GT3 pit stops were undertaken during the red flag stoppage that coincided with the pit window.
***Satoshi Motoyama has split with Team LeMans following the first round of the Super GT championship at Okayama. A statement issued by Team LeMans regarding the change claimed that “a drastic budget review and system change is necessary” in order to continue in the championship.
***Motoyama’s departure has left the way clear for Roberto Merhi to make his Super GT debut with the team. The ex-F1 racer will be partnering Shintaro Kawabata and Yoshiaki Katayama aboard the No. 6 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II. Merhi has one previous start in Audi GT3 machinery under his belt from an appearance in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS last year.
***B-Quik Racing has appointed Nicola Sgotto as its new team manager. Sgotto joins directly from partner operation Absolute Racing and will oversee the team’s GT3 and GT4 programs. The former race engineer previously served as Technical Director with Absolute and also worked for Iron Lynx in past years.
***The Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Series will serve as a support series to next month’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, with Rounds 4, 5 and 6 set to be contested over the course of the May 13-15 weekend.
***The Automobile Club de l’Ouest has confirmed that the driver parade will return to the schedule for the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time since 2019. The popular event in the city center, held on the Friday before the race, was a notable absence from the festivities during the previous two editions of the French endurance classic due to COVID-19 measures.
***The lineup of musical entertainment for the event was also announced. French group KYO will perform on Wednesday 8 June, followed by Pete Doherty on Thursday, DJ Martin Solveig on Friday and British band The Stranglers headlining on Saturday.
***Haupt Racing Team has announced the release of a three-part documentary series with a focus on Maximilian Goetz’s title-winning DTM campaign last year. Each episode will be 15 minutes in length and will be uploaded to the website of German broadcaster ran.de on April 23rd, 26th and 29th, after which they will be available as one continuous episode.
***Shanghai International Circuit has turned into a COVID-19 hospital, with the facility around the metro station and adjacent parking lots on the outer perimeter of the circuit grounds housing temporary buildings for Chinese citizens who test positive for coronavirus.
***China is seeing its highest numbers of positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic’s onset, with numerous cities still under strict lockdown measures by the government.
***Kessel Racing has completed its four-entry lineup for International GT Open, with David Fumanelli and Murat Cuhadaroglu confirmed in the Swiss team’s No. 133 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020.
***Scuderia Ravetto & Ruberti will run its new GT3-spec Ferrari in the recently-launched Hypersprint Cup format of the Ultimate Cup Series platform this year.
***Palm Beach International Raceway closed on Saturday after hosting a “Last Lap” track day event, bringing to an end a 58-year history of operation. The track, located in Jupiter, Florida, was put up for sale last year. The former Moroso Motorsports Park was subsequently purchased by Georgia-based Portman Holdings LLC with plans to build warehouses on the property, although its plans were rejected in early April by Palm Beach County’s Zoning Commission with new hearings set for September.
On this weekend: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca), Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup (Brands Hatch), DTM (Portimao), International GT Open (Estoril)
Davey Euwema and John Dagys contributed to this report