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Weekly Racing Roundup (3.21.22)

Report from GTWC Australia plus Super Taikyu action, European testing and news…

Photo: SRO

Audis Dominate GTWC Australia Opener at Phillip Island

Separate Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II entries featuring Chaz Mostert and Christopher Mies were victorious in the opening rounds of Fanatic GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS at Phillip Island.

Mostert and Liam Talbot took Race 1 honors, with the Repco Supercars ace holding off Audi Sport factory driver Mies for victory after taking the lead early from pole-sitter Brett Hobson in his Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.

Race 2 saw Mies and defending champion Yasser Shahin strike back following a frantic start that saw included a battle with Mostert and the Triple Eight Race Engineering Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Shane van Gisbergen.

Mies was able to retain the lead prior to Shahin climbing aboard the Melbourne Performance Centre-run entry and bridged out a two-second gap over Talbot for the win.

David Reynolds and Tony Bates completed the podium in their C-Tech Laser Audi in third, with the Grove Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R and Triple Eight Mercedes-AMG completing the top-five.

RESULTS: Race 1 / Race 2

Photo: GT Open

Other Track Action

***International GT Open held its official pre-season test at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Wednesday and Thursday last week. One of the participants was four-time FIA World Touring Car champion Yvan Muller, driving Baporo Motorsport’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo. The fastest lap on day one was a 1:44.455 set by the No. 3 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG, while day two was led by the No. 63 Oregon Lamborghini shared by Leonardo Pulcini and Benjamin Hites, its best time a 1:44.160.

***The Super Taikyu season kicked off with a five-hour race at Suzuka that was won by the DAISHIN Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 driven by Nobuyuki Oyagi, Takayuki Aoki, Kiyoto Fujinami and Natsutsuki Sakaguchi. The Nissan prevailed in a dramatic concluding duel between Fujinami and Porsche Center Okazaki driver Yuta Uemura, which was decided when Uemura had contact with a slower car, causing his car’s hood to swing open and allowing Fujinami to take the checkered flag. Results

***A pre-season test for the NLS was held at the Nürburgring Nordschleife to prepare for this weekend’s season-opening round. Some areas of the circuit have been repaved since last year, including sections of the Grand Prix section, as well as several points on the Nordschleife loop such as Tiergarten and the Dottinger Hohe straight.

***Rolex 24 at Daytona podium finisher KCMG will continue to run a single Porsche 911 GT3 R at the Nürburgring. The Hong Kong-based outfit, which runs its N24 program out of Kelberg near the Nordschleife, has nominated Dennis Olsen, Alexandre Imperatori and Josh Burdon as its drivers for this weekend’s NLS opener. KCMG plans to run the first three NLS rounds as part of its Nürburgring 24 preparations.

Image: PROSport Racing

News & Notes

***Aston Martin will be represented in the SP9 class in the NLS this year courtesy of PROSport Racing. Its Aston Martin Vantage GT3 will be driven by the Belgian trio of Maxime Dumarey, Jean Glorieux and Nico Verdonck. A factory-run Aston Martin won the final round of the 2021 NLS season with Maxime Martin and Nicki Thiim sharing the wheel.

***PROSport is also running two Vantage GT4s in the SP10 class, including one for Guillaume Dumarey and Simon Balcaen. “The goal of PROsport Racing is that the two Belgians will start in the NLS in 2023 with a second Aston Martin Vantage GT3,” said team principal Chris Esser.

***Super Taikyu front-runner Porsche Center Okazaki has committed to the new Japan Cup mini-season within the Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS. Hiroaki Nagai and Yuta Kamimura will drive the Nine Racing-prepared Porsche 911 GT3 R in the four Japanese races after contesting a full season in 2019.

***Additionally, Comet Racing and GTO Racing have committed to the Japan Cup. Former 24 Hours of Le Mans driver Shinji Nakano’s Comet squad will run a Honda NSX GT3 Evo2 and a Mercedes-AMG GT4. GTO is also entering a GT4-spec Mercedes.

***ADAC GT Masters has introduced a new Shell fuel containing approximately “50 percent sustainable components”. The Blue Gasoline 98 GT Masters is a development of the Blue Gasolina 95 which launched in the German market last year to the EN228 E10 standard. It will be rolled out in championships across the ADAC platform including GT4 Germany.

Image: Mercedes-AMG

***Mercedes-AMG has released an optimized version of its GT4 car that is “specifically aimed at track day activities”. The main upgrade is a 34-horsepower power increase to 544 hp (400 kW) achieved by tweaks to the 4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine’s management system. A new front splitter and larger rear tires have also been added as part of the optional package, which can race in the SP8T class of the NLS. A similar GT3 track day update is understood to be in the works.

***AKKA-ASP has announced its fleet of GT4 entries across the GT4 European Series and FFSA French GT. Jerome Policand’s team is running four Mercedes-AMGs in each championship. Jim Pla and Simon Gachet headline the two Pro-Am crews in GT4 Europe and will also run domestic campaigns, Pla linking up with World Cup-winning goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.  

***Hella Pagid-Racing One has committed to a four-car program with Aston Martin in the GT4 European Series, doubling its involvement since last season. American racer Kenton Koch and former Camaro GT4 driver Thijmen Nabuurs team up in the Silver class. Christian Gisy and Ralf Kelleners (Pro-Am), Henrik L. Pedersen and Markus Lungstrass (Am) and Moritz and Vincent Gisy (Am) complete the setup.

***GT4 Europe front-runner NM Racing has added a third Mercedes-AMG GT4 to its stable for 2022. The Spanish squad will have an entry in each of the three classes. Lluc Ibanez returns to Silver Cup with a new co-driver in Enzo Joulie. Filip Vava returns to the Pro-Am fold alongside Jakub Knoll. Alexander Vaintrub and Stas Safronov form the Am pairing.

***AGS Events has completed its GT4 Europe squad with the confirmation of Ruben del Sarte and Thomas Verdier as a Silver Cup combination. Del Sarte drove for Mirage Racing last year and remains behind the wheel of an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 with AGS. Verdier steps up from the French Caterham Cup.

Photo: British GT

***Will Burns and Century Motorsport have reunited for an attempt at defending the British GT title. Burns shared last year’s drivers’ championship with Gus Burton but is now joined by Jack Brown in a BMW M4 GT4. Chris Salkeld is the first confirmed driver in the other Century BMW.

***Porsche Carrera Cup GB podium finisher Jamie Orton has signed with Team Parker Racing for its Porsche GT4 entry in British GT. Orton will partner Seb Hopkins, who was announced at an earlier date.

***Toyota will make its full-time debut in ADAC GT4 Germany courtesy of an entry from Saarland-based team Piro Sports. Driver Cedric Piro said: “We had seven serious buyers for second place in the cockpit. Last week we went testing with four drivers at the Hockenheimring.” Marcel Lenz was selected as the second driver for the program.

***Reigning Lamborghini Super Trofeo world champion Vincenzo Sospiri Racing will field a pair of updated Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo EVO2s in the new European season. GT3 regular Stephane Tribaudini will team up in the No. 8 car with Jean-Luc D’Auria, who drove for Villorba Corse in GT4 Europe last year. Sammarinese drivers Emanuele Zonzini and Emanuel Colombini are together in the No. 78 VSR machine.

***W Series driver Abbie Eaton has booked her first racing appearance since breaking her back in an accident at Circuit of The Americas last October. Eaton will line up for the Sports Prototype Cup season-opener at Zandvoort on April 9-10. Six-time Olympic cycling gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy is also due to take part.

On this weekend: 24H Series (12H Mugello), NLS (Round 1)

John Dagys contributed to this report

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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