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Weekly Racing Roundup (1.31.22)

News including Virage LMP2 plans, Japan Cup entries, program updates and more…

Image: Team Virage

***Team Virage will step up to LMP2 competition this year with an Oreca 07 Gibson in the European Le Mans Series. The GT4 and LMP3 squad has not yet named the drivers for its highest-profile sports car program to date. Virage will also field a Ligier JS P320 Nissan in LMP3, with Sacha Lehmann graduating from Michelin Le Mans Cup and Alexander Mattschull joining the Spanish-based, Polish-flagged operation.

***Augusto Farfus will embark on his first full season of Super GT this year, diving a Team Studie-run BMW M4 GT3 in the GT300 class. The experienced BMW factory driver will team up with 2004 Le Mans winner Seiji Ara, who previously raced Studie’s BMW M6 GT3. Super GT held its first GT500 manufacturer test last week involving Nissan, Toyota and Honda.

***Three teams – ABSSA, D’station Racing and Car Guy Racing – have committed to the new Japan Cup class within the Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS season. ABSSA’s McLaren 720S GT3 will be driven by FIA World Endurance Championship alumnus Keita Sawa.

***Other drivers with WEC experience are confirmed in the other two entries. Tomonobu Fujii and Satoshi Hoshino are set to drive the D’station Aston Martin Vantage GT3 while Takeshi Kimura is due to get behind the wheel of a Car Guy Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020.

***After recently making his GT3 debut in the Gulf 12 Hours, Casper Stevenson has signed with AKKA-ASP for his Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS bow. The Brit will team up with Thomas Drouet in Sprint Cup, forming a Silver-class pairing. Former Attempto Racing Audi driver Tomasso Mosca has also joined ASP and will partner Stevenson in Endurance Cup.

***Dennis Fetzer is the second confirmed driver for Leipert Motorsport’s GTWC Europe Endurance Cup return with Lamborghini. The 20-year-old German has previously driven for Allied-Racing in GT4 and was with Leipert for its Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai. Fetzer and Brendon Leitch’s third driver for the Silver Cup class is TBA, while Super Trofeo ace Max Weering will join for the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.

Photo: KTM

***KTM has announced plans to release a road-going model based on the X-Bow GT2 race car and published photos of a prototype undergoing testing. The road car will be powered by the same five-cylinder turbocharged engine from Audi that has been adapted into the competition version. Launch and official release dates for the X-Bow GT2 street variant are yet to be announced.

***Team Speed Monkeys has joined the DTM Trophy with a pair of Aston Martin Vantage GT4s. The Essen-based outfit’s first confirmed driver is Nick Hancke who previously raced in the BMW M2 Cup on the DTM support package.

***American racer John Paul Southern Jr. is moving from ADAC GT4 Germany to the DTM Trophy with his T3 Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT4. The T3 squad, which joined the DTM last year and made its IMSA debut last weekend, has committed a pair of Audis to the German championship’s main support series.

***SRO America has made four promotions within its senior staff. They are Brian Hughes (promoted to VP, Operations), Staci Langham (General Manager), Robbie Montinola (VP, Marketing Communications & Business Development) and Susan Dunklau (CFO).

***Third-generation driver Spencer Bucknum will race in TC America this year, driving an LA Honda World Racing-prepared Honda Civic Si in the TCA class. The Formula 4 graduate is the son of former American Le Mans Series and Indianapolis 500 racer Jeff Bucknum and the grandson of Ronnie Bucknum, who finished third in Ford’s historic 1-2-3 at Le Mans in 1966.

***2 Seas Motorsport recently returned to the track after its Gulf 12 Hours victory, with the team testing its race-winning Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo at Bahrain International Circuit.

Image: Assetto Motorsport

***Assetto Motorsport is moving up to the GT3 ranks of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship with a Bentley Continental GT3 to be driven by Mark Sansom and former factory driver Andy Meyrick. The team made its GT4 debut last year after previously running single-make Ginettas.

“GT3 has always been an aspiration, although I wasn’t expecting the opportunity to arise so soon,” Sansom commented. “But having worked with Assetto, Bentley and M-Sport on this for some months, I’m super excited to be stepping up.”

***Enduro Motorsport will continue to run its McLaren 720S GT3 in British GT’s top class. Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton, who won the 2021 season finale at Donington Park, form an unchanged driver pairing.

***Sim racing YouTuber Jimmy Broadbent is signed up to contest the Praga Cup single-make series, sharing a factory-run Praga R1 with Gordie Mutch.

***Ferrari has released the first four-minute episode of a documentary miniseries charting its 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE-Pro win with Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Come Ledogar. The episode is available on YouTube.

***The Peugeot 9X8 was awarded the ‘Hypercar of the Year’ grand prize at the 37th annual Festival Automobile held in France lsat week. The manufacturer’s in-development LMH contender was designed by a team led by Matthias Hossann.

On this weekend: Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli (Kyalami)

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

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