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Weekly Racing Roundup (9.27.21)

Reports from Aston’s first NLS win and GT Open at Monza, plus other racing and news…

Photo: Jan Brucke/VLN

Aston Wins on Nordschleife GT3 Return

Maxime Martin and Nicki Thiim delivered Aston Martin’s first outright win at the Nürburgring Nordschleife on the manufacturer’s return to the venue in Saturday’s NLS round.

On a one-off factory appearance, the sole Aston Martin Vantage GT3 won by 13 seconds from the Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo of Vincent Kolb and Frank Stippler.

Martin started from eighth on the grid, but advanced two positions on the opening lap of the four-hour race.

The Belgian gained another place due to the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 R retiring with tire damage, before handing over to Thiim. Both AMR factory drivers conducted eight-lap stints in the middle of the race.

Martin’s second turn at the wheel included a handful of overtakes, capped by a pass on Stippler’s Audi for second in the stadium section.

That turned into first when the BMW Junior Team M6 pitted, paving the way for Thiim to secure the win after the final driver change for Aston Martin Racing.

Kolb managed to keep a charging Max Hesse at bay to secure second place for Phoenix, ahead of the Junior Team BMW that also included Dan Harper and Neil Verhagen.

Car Collection’s Audi driven by Nico Mueller, Patric Niederhauser and Patrick Kolb was fourth, one spot ahead of the in-development BMW M4 GT3 which registered a personal best result on its second race outing with Philipp Eng and Augusto Farfus.

RESULTS: ADAC Barbarossapreis

Photo: GT Open

Guest Entries Beat the GT Open Regulars

2 Seas Motorsport and Rinaldi Racing won the International GT Open races at Monza, beating the full-season entries for their respective first wins in the series.

Martin Kodric and Ethan Simioni won the opening bout in the guesting 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, which was racing in continental Europe for the first time.

Kodric, who finished third in the 2019 standings, rose to third in the opening stint behind Marco Bonanomi’s Reno Racing Honda NSX GT3 Evo and race leader Michele Beretta in the championship-leading Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.

Beretta maintained his edge through to the pit stops, but the Italian’s co-driver Frederik Schandorff emerged only in fourth place.

Schandorff quickly got past Fabrizio Crestani in the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 before overtaking Bonanomi’s co-driver Guidetti for second into Turn 1, but couldn’t do anything about Simioni who held firm to claim victory for 2 Seas.

Race two was held in soaking wet conditions, but the rain only started falling a few moments after the initial green light.

This triggered a round of early emergency pit stops during which Michelin slick tires were replaced with wets. After the early drama and several spins throughout the field, it was Crestani who led from Schandorff.

Benjamin Hites inherited Crestani’s lead after the driver changes, and managed a safety car for Leipert Motorsport’s Lamborghini spinning into the gravel, to win for Rinaldi ahead of Andy Soucek in the Lechner Racing Porsche.

Schandorff and Beretta take a 22-point lead over Soucek and Al Faisal Al Zubair into next month’s season finale at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

RESULTS: Race 1 / Race 2

Image: Le Mans Virtual Series

Other Racing Action

***Alon Day, Gilles Magnus, Hans Thiers, Frank Thiers and Jeffrey Van Hooydonck won the 24 Hours of Zolder in a Norma M20 FC entered by Russell Racing by PK Carsport. The winning margin was 11 laps. Norma machinery locked out the overall podium, while the top GTA-class runner was the Red Ant Racing Porsche 992 in fourth. Results

***The Le Mans Virtual Series kicked off last weekend with a four-hour race at Monza that was won by Realteam Hydrogen Redline. Daniel Juncadella, Jeffrey Rietveld and Michal Smidl won from GPX Rebellion Williams and Floyd ByKolles-Burst. Porsche Esports Team claimed top honors in GTE. Results

***Teams competing in the Le Mans Virtual Series are using a “virtual replica” of the Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport tires that are used on real-world LMP2 and GTE cars. Goodyear EMEA motorsport director Ben Crawley said the project is “a great complement” to the company’s real-world supply.

Photo: Praga Cars UK

News & Notes

***Czech sports car manufacturer Praga has launched its own UK-based series for 2022. Up to 24 Praga R1s will be permitted to take part in the Praga Cup UK, which consists of six fixtures on the Britcar bill and a planned non-championship European round.

***Team ABBA Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo was disqualified from the British GT round at Oulton Park due to a breach of protocol in an ongoing technical matter. A post-event assessment on the gearbox could not be completed because the team removed the British GT-supplied seals for a separate race at Donington. Damage during the Donington meeting forced the team to open the gearbox, breaching Motorsport UK regulations.

***Its disqualification has altered some of the gaps at the top of the British GT standings. Dennis Lind and Leo Machitski now lead Yelmer Buurman and Ian Loggie by 18.5 points, five more than the gap that provisionally existed after the Oulton weekend.

***Hugo Sasse has replaced Steijn Schothorst in Grasser Racing Team’s lineup for the remainder of the ADAC GT Masters season. Sasse, who graduated from karting this year, contested the first part of the campaign with fellow Lamborghini outfit T3 Motorsport. He will team up with Tim Zimmermann.

Photo: Jan Brucke/VLN

***The latest-generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car made its endurance racing debut in Saturday’s NLS race with Marco Holzer and Uwe Alzen sharing the wheel. The car, which is now Porsche’s flagship single-make series model, ran with traction control and ABS on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

***Street-Art Racing will embark on a GT3 program with Aston Martin next year, according to Endurance-Info. The Belgian squad currently operates Aston Martins in the GT4 European Series.

***GT Open has announced its 2022 calendar. The season will include stops at Portimao (May 1), Paul Ricard (May 22), Spa (June 19), Hungaroring (July 10), Red Bull Ring (Sep. 11), Monza (Sep. 25) and Barcelona (Oct. 16).

***The new Bahrain Pro-Am 1000 race has been postponed from December to Jan. 29 next year in response to European teams wishing to have a greater gap between the end of their main seasons and the one-off event at Bahrain International Circuit.

***Tributes have been paid to 1964 Le Mans and triple Targa Florio winner Nino Vaccarella, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 88. Many of Vaccarella’s career highlights came behind the wheel of Ferrari machinery. Company vice-chairman Piero Ferrari described the Italian as “a driver whose achievements honored Ferrari, but above all a true gentleman driver.”

On this weekend: Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS (Sebring), DTM (Hockenheim), ADAC GT Masters (Sachsenring), Fanatec GT2 European Series (Paul Ricard), 24H Series (Hungaroring)

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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