Albon Captures First Sports Car Win
Alex Albon claimed a dominant maiden sports car racing victory on Sunday as part of the DTM’s round at the Nürburgring.
The F1 reserve driver won the second race of the mid-season weekend from pole position aboard his AF Corse-run Alpha Tauri Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020, less than two hours before the Italian team banked a double GTE class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Albon controlled the start of the race, which took place in dry conditions after a wet qualifying session, from Daniel Juncadella and Marco Wittman who remained in second and third through to the line despite two safety car periods and several incidents.
The first safety car occurred on lap two when Maximilian Buhk’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 was nosed into the pit wall, while the second intervention on lap nine concerned Lucas Auer’s stationary car of the same type.
Albon managed both restarts well, particularly the second which involved the top-three net drivers negotiating the traffic of those who were yet to make their pit stops.
In race one, Kelvin van der Linde claimed his third win of the season for Abt Sportsline and continued to the lead standings despite dropping to 16th in race two.
The Audi factory driver produced a smart drive from pole position, holding off Mercedes-AMG drivers Philip Ellis and guest driver Luca Stolz in the opening stages.
Van der Linde ran behind late-stoppers Mike Rockfenfeller and Albon in the second half of the race. A superb lunge down the inside of Albon was required to clear the Ferrari driver at the chicane, while Rockenfeller continued further up the road.
The 2013 champion’s pit strategy brought him out behind race leader van der Linde, plus Stolz and Ellis who swapped positions during the second stint.
Stolz then lost his first DTM podium to a 30-second time penalty for knocking over one of Juncadella’s pit mechanics, handing second to Ellis and third to Rockenfeller.
Quintarelli, Matsuda Go Quids in at Suzuka
Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda led a Nissan sweep of the Super GT podium positions as the NISMO pair claimed their third consecutive Suzuka victory.
The drivers of the red No. 23 Nissan GT-R GT500 also earned their manufacturer’s first overall victory in the series since the previous Suzuka race in October 2020.
Quintarelli started from third on the grid, behind Honda NSX-GT drivers Takuya Izawa and Toshiki Oyu.
Pole-sitter Izawa dropped out of contention when he crashed at the chicane on lap five, putting Red Bull Mugen driver Oyu into the lead with Quintarelli and fellow Nissan driver Daiki Sasaki heading up the pursuit.
Nissan entries ran first, second, third and fourth after the mid-race pit stops, with Kohei Hirate vaulting to the lead in his B-Max Racing car ahead of Sasaki’s co-driver Nobuharu Matsushita and Matsuda.
The closing stages of the race saw Matsuda mount an impressive charge, dispatching Matsushita first because catching and passing Hirate for the lead at the hairpin with 11 laps of the 52-lap contest to go.
Matsuda went on to win by 11 seconds from Hirate, who shared second place with Katsumasa Chiyo. Sasaki and Mitsunori Takaboshi completed the all-Nissan rostrum as new points leaders Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino took fourth in their Honda.
Two Toyota GR Supra GT500s rounded out the top five as Matsushita ultimately came through in sixth.
GT300 class honors went to Atsushi Miyake and Yuui Tsutsumi who shared a Toyota GR Supra.
Le Mans Supports
***A Bentley Speed 8 won at Le Mans last Friday as Shaun Lynn prevailed in the first of two Endurance Racing Legends races on the 24 Hours of Le Mans support bill. The 2003-winning model type won after Lynn overtook Florent Moulin for second, before James Cottingham spun his Dallara SP1 out at the Porsche Curves to gift the win. Cottingham overcame his race one drama to win the second encounter by 9.4 seconds from Lynn. Race 1 / Race 2
***Ulysse De Pauw, Matthieu De Robiano and Stephane Lemeret won the five-hour Fun Cup race on Friday. Their No. 2 DRM Autographe Fun modified Volkswagen Beetle beat the No. 82 ZOSH – DI Envir 1 car by just under six seconds, after 54 laps of racing. All but two of the 89 cars entered topped 200 km/h (124 mph) on the Mulsanne Straight. Results
***A 35-minute Porsche Sprint Challenge France race for various types of Porsche machinery was held on the morning of Le Mans race day. Lilou Wadoux-Ducellier beat Georgi Donchev by less than a second with the pair driving Porsche 922 GT3 Cup cars. Results
Other Racing Action and News
***Ben Green attained the DTM Trophy points lead by winning race one at the Nürburgring, only for Will Tregurtha to get back ahead in the second race by finishing fourth compared to his rival’s seventh-place. Marcel Marchewicz narrowly beat Lucas Mauron for the race two honors. Green and Tregurtha are now separated by three points. Race 1 / Race 2
***RAM Racing will enter this weekend’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup round at Brands Hatch. Macanese driver Kevin Tse and Nürburgring 24 winner Adam Christodoulou will share the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
***Tse and RAM have also committed to the Intelligent Money British GT Championship event at Oulton Park on Sept. 11-12. On that occasion, Tom Onslow-Cole will be the professional driver in the Pro-Am lineup.
On this weekend: Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, Pirelli GT4 America, GT America powered by AWS (Road America), Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup (Brands Hatch)