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Racing Roundup

Weekly Racing Roundup (8.3.20)

Reports from GT Masters, DTM and British GT plus other news from the past week…

Photo: Gruppe C Photography

WRT, Toksport Get Off the Mark at Lausitzring

Team WRT and Toksport WRT each claimed their first victories in ADAC GT Masters on the opening weekend of the 2020 season at the Lausitzring.

Maro Engel and Luca Stolz gave the Toksport squad, which contested a handful of toe-in-the-water rounds last year, its maiden series win during Saturday’s 60-minute race.

WRT then also became a first-time winner on its GT Masters debut courtesy of Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor, who bounced back from a troubled race one to triumph on Sunday.

In race one, Alfred Renauer surged into the lead from fourth on the grid, only for the Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche driver to be turned around by Stolz on lap eight.

The Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo driver then extended his lead to four seconds before that was reeled back in by a safety car period following a big collision at Turn 1 involving the Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R and the other Herberth Porsche.

Stolz lost the lead to KÜS Team75 Bernhard’s Klaus Bachler at the restart, but Toksport regained the advantage during the pit sequence as Engel emerged in front of Simona de Silvestro who had taken over the No. 17 Porsche from her Austrian co-driver.

The Team75 Bernhard car then faded while SSR Performance’s Porsche rose up the order to finish second with Christian Engelhart and Michael Ammermueller driving.

The second race saw WRT’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo start from pole after Vanthoor pipped Engel in qualifying by 0.010 seconds: the smallest margin in GT Masters history.

The Belgian protected his advantage at the start and built a lead of almost 14 seconds through the opening stint, while Weerts – whose opening-race spin led to the No. 32 Audi finishing 20th on that occasion – added to the gap on the rest of the field.

A late safety car to recover T3 HRT Motorsport’s gravel-beached Bentley Continental GT3 threatened WRT’s leading position, but Weerts held off Stolz in the dash to the flag.

Two podiums for Engel and Stolz meant they left the Lausitzring with the early championship lead, going into the next round at the Nürburgring on Aug. 15-16.

RESULTS: Race 1 / Race 2

Photo: Audi

Audis Out in Force at DTM Opener

Audi dominated BMW in both races of the DTM series curtain-raiser weekend at Spa-Francorchamps as Nico Mueller and Rene Rast shared out the victories.

Audis finished first to fifth in both 26-lap contests on the championship’s return to Spa after 15 years away.

Mueller won race one in convincing fashion, overtaking pole-sitter Rast into Les Combes in the opening stint and driving away to a 19.5s margin of victory over Jamie Green.

Loic Duval was on course to finish second but the Frenchman was overtaken at Blanchimont by Green, who completed a terrific charge through the field from 11th on the grid.

Duval settled for third as Mike Rockenfeller and Rast completed the top five, while Philipp Eng was the best BMW representative in sixth.

In race two, Rast successfully prevented Mueller from sweeping the weekend spoils.

Rast got the best start but was overtaken by Mueller along the Kemmel Straight on lap four. While the Audi drivers became separated during the pit window, the gap between them reduced over the second stint.

Mueller finally found a way past at the same part of the circuit Rast had overtaken him, but the Swiss driver was unable to pull out a big margin.

Mueller defended resiliently from Rast in the final laps and crossed the line just half a second ahead, while Frijns finished third in front of Green and Rockenfeller.

RESULTS: Spa-Francorchamps

Photo: JEP

British GT Kicks Off at Oulton Park

The Intelligent Money British GT Championship held its belated season-opener at Oulton Park with a pair of 60-minute races on Sunday.

These produced two different winners, as Michael O’Brien and esports racer James Baldwin claimed the first victory in their Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S GT3, before Phil Keen and Adam Balon won part two in their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.

McLarens commanded the opening race as Lewis Proctor set off into the lead from pole in the Optimum Motorsport 720S GT3, ahead of 2 Seas Motorsport’s Jordan Witt.

The positions changed around during the mandatory stops but Witt’s co-driver Jack Mitchell was forced to serve a drive-through for an infringement on pit lane.

This handed the lead to O’Brien, who had only just overtaken Wilkinson off the back off a strong opening stint from World’s Fastest Gamer winner Baldwin.

O’Brien then successfully negotiated a late safety car period to win for RJN, while McLarens swept the podium as Proctor/Wilkinson finished second and Angus Fender/Dean MacDonald came through in third.

In race two, Barwell Motorsport claimed a one-two with its Lamborghinis as Phil Keen equaled Jonny Adam’s record haul of 16 British GT wins.

Keen and Sandy Mitchell ran first and second through the opening stint, while Balon and Rob Collard resumed this order after the driver swaps.

When three cars became stranded at separate points of the track with 25 minutes left, a safety car was called and this ran down the clock to hand the win to Keen and Balon.

The Ram Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Sam de Haan and Patrick Kujala completed the top three, behind the Barwell Lamborghinis.

TF Sport’s Patrick Kibble and Connor O’Brien and Balfe Motorsport’s Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey were the two sets of winners in the GT4 category.

RESULTS: Race 1 / Race 2

Photo: DTM Trophy

Other Racing Action

***The first-ever DTM Trophy event took place at Spa with 17 GT4 cars present. Ben Tuck became the series’ inaugural winner, claiming race one honors in his Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 (pictured) while his British compatriot Ben Green won the second race in a BMW run by FK Performance Motorsport.

***Daniel Mancinelli/Riccardo Agostini and Daniel Zampieri/Lorenzo Ferrari shared out the wins during Italian GT’s sprint season-opener at Misano. Mancinelli and Agostini won the first race in their Audi R8 LMS GT3, beating the BMW of Marius Zug and Stefano Comandini by two seconds, while Zampieri and Ferrari claimed a narrow race two triumph in their Mercedes over the Ferrari of Alessio Rovera and Giorgio Roda.

***Larry ten Voorde claimed his second career Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup victory at Silverstone by dominating from pole position. The Dutchman’s GP Elite teammate Max van Splunteren finished second after fending off Jaxon Evans in the closing stages.

***Ferrari Challenge Europe staged its third meeting of the season at Portimao. John Wartique chalked up his first win of the year in race one of Trofeo Pirelli, while Emanuele Maria Tabacchi won race two to extend his points lead over Fabienne Wohlwend.

***The Sports Prototype Cup held its inaugural meeting at Brands Hatch last weekend which included the debut of the new Revolution A-One prototype. Alex Kapadia won the first race beating Scott Mansell by 0.4 seconds, before Mansell claimed victory in Race 2 from Bradley Ellis in another close finish.

***Nils Naujoks won the SRO E-Sport GT Series finale held on Assetto Corsa Competizione. Sim racing specialists dominated the mixed-bag race that also included real-world professionals and public qualifiers. Ezequiel Companc was the best real-world driver in 14th.

Photo: Chris Jones/IndyCar

Other News & Notes

***Indy Lights driver Robert Megennis will make his sports car debut in this weekend’s European Le Mans Series round at Spa. The 20-year-old American, who drives for Andretti Autosport in the IndyCar feeder championship, will share RLR MSport’s Ligier JS P320 Nissan with James Dayson and Malthe Jakobsen.

***23 cars are on the entry list for the Michelin Le Mans Cup’s two-hour race at Spa. LMP3 has maintained its large 17-car field from the Paul Ricard opener, while the GT3 entry has gone down from nine cars to six with only Ferrari 488 GTE Evos involved.

*** Hans-Peter Naundorf, the team principal of the Total 24 Hours of Spa-winning squad ROWE Racing, is keen for GT3 cars to be integrated into DTM, following the recent rise of discussions about options for the series’ future beyond Audi’s withdrawal at the end of the current season.

“Two years ago, we had ambitions of doing something on the DTM platform,” said Naundorf. “We had found partners who wanted to get involved with us. In the end, nothing came of it. Should the DTM platform remain with current GT3 cars, that would obviously be very interesting to us.”

***2014 World Cup winner Lukas Podolski got behind the wheel a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo at the Nürburgring last week. The former Arsenal and Bayern Munich striker, who currently plays for Turkish club Antalyaspor, completed 30 laps of the GP circuit in a car prepared by GetSpeed Performance.

***Former SAS soldier and British television star Jay Morton, who has appeared on SAS: Who Dares Wins, will make his racing debut next year driving a Praga R1 prototype. Morton will compete with the VP Motorsport team, which includes fellow ex-servicemen Warren McKinlay and Martyn Compton.

***Bentley customer Team Lazarus has signed former GP2 regular and LMP2 racer Stefano Coletti to its International GT Open lineup. Coletti joins Fabrizio Crestani in the team’s two-car squad.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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