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GT World Challenge Europe

AKKA-ASP Wins 3H Barcelona; Iron Lynx Drivers Clinch Title

AKKA-ASP wins 3H Barcelona but Pier Guidi, Nielsen, Ledogar take Endurance Cup title…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

Raffaele Marciello, Felipe Fraga and Jules Gounon won the 3 Hours of Barcelona for AKKA-ASP but could do nothing to prevent Iron Lynx Ferrari drivers Alessandro Pier Guidi, Nicklas Nielsen and Come Ledogar from clinching the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup title.

Pier Guidi, Nielsen and Ledogar finished seventh in their No. 51 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020, which was enough to secure the championship by four points from the drivers of the No. 88 Mercedes-AMG, which took its first Endurance victory of the year.

Pier Guidi successfully defended his Endurance Cup crown from last season, while Ledogar notched up his second title after winning in 2016. Nielsen is a first-time GTWC Europe champion.

Marciello and Gounon, who contested the first three races with Daniel Juncadella and the last two with Fraga, took second in the championship and ended up level on points with Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts who finished third in the race alongside Robin Frijns.

Marciello started from the front of the 46-car grid after AKKA-ASP inherited pole from a penalized Orange1 FFF Racing Team, which also had a chance to win the title.

After holding off Earl Bamber’s initial challenge into Turn 1, the Italian driver broke away to a lead that stood at almost 14 seconds when he pitted after an hour.

Fraga maintained AKKA-ASP’s buffer over Bamber’s GPX Racing Porsche co-driver Mathieu Jaminet in the middle stint, and handed over to Gounon with an advantage of 22 seconds.

However, that gap was erased when a safety car period occurred midway through the hour when the Allied-Racing Porsche spun at Turn 14 near the end of the lap.

Gounon kept in front at that restart, but faced another safety car in the final five minutes due to Antonio Fuoco’s Iron Lynx Ferrari stopping on track with a puncture.

A three-lap dash to the checkered flag saw Gounon beat Matteo Cairoli in the Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R by two seconds, while Vanthoor took third in the No. 32 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.

Dinamic’s Porsche that Cairoli shared with Klaus Bachler and Christian Engelhart was fifth at the beginning of the middle stint, but gained two places due to penalties for the FFF Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo in third and the second-placed GPX Porsche.

FFF dropped to 13th when Andrea Caldarelli was deemed at fault for a Turn 5 collision between his Lamborghini and The No. 488 Rinaldi Racing Pro-Am Ferrari.

The Italian was ordered to serve a drive-through, which was the same punishment dealt to GPX Racing after the ART Grand Prix-supported team was caught for refueling before its car had been propped up on its air jacks during a pit stop.

Cairoli then fought his way past Nico Bastian in the Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG at the start of the final stint.

Bastian, who teamed up with Luca Stolz and Maro Engel, came under pressure from Vanthoor after the first safety car and the Belgian found a way past with 20 minutes left.

Vanthoor, Weerts and Frijns took Team WRT’s third podium of the campaign, while the HRT Mercedes lost a further place in the closing stages to the FFF Lamborghini.

Caldarelli and Mirko Bortolotti made up nine positions after their car’s drive-through, earning 12 championship points along with starting driver Marco Mapelli, although the Italian trio still slipped from third to fourth in the final table.

Arthur Rougier, Konsta Lappalainen and Jack Aitken took seventh in their Emil Frey Lamborghini, in front of the title-winning Iron Lynx Ferrari.

Nielsen drove the opening stint for Iron Lynx, starting 11th on the grid and holding that place through to the first round of stops.

The Italian squad then gained three positions in the pits, plus another two when the FFF and GPX penalties were applied.

Pier Guidi held off Emil Frey driver Albert Costa for seventh at the line.

The guesting Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo 2 run by Sainteloc Racing achieved a top ten on its GTWC Europe debut courtesy of Markus Winkelhock, Finlay Hutchison and Dennis Lind.

The car’s status as an Invitational entry means that it did not score any points for ninth place. The Audi Evo 2 was at Barcelona for a test race outing ahead of its global customer rollout next year.

Campbell, Bamber and Jaminet recovered from their drive0-through to complete the top ten.

Silver Cup honors went to AKKA-ASP drivers Simon Gachet, Thomas Drouet and Konstantin Tereschenko who profited from an out of sequence pit stop for their main rivals.

Toksport WRT narrowly led AKKA-ASP in the early stages of the race, but the German squad had to relinquish its advantage in the second hour due to a puncture.

Marvin Dienst, Oscar Tunjo and Berkay Besler fought back to finish third, behind Team WRT’s James Pull, Valdemar Eriksen and Ryuichiro Tomita.

Emil Frey Racing’s Ricardo Feller, Alex Fontana and Rolf Ineichen claimed the Silver Cup drivers’ title despite an early puncture putting their Lamborghini out of the mix.

Another Mercedes-AMG team won in the Pro-Am class as Dominik Baumann made the deciding move to take victory for SPS Automotive Performance.

The Austrian driver squeezed past the AF Corse Ferrari of Louis Machiels at the final chicane with around 40 minutes remaining to take a lead that he would hold through the pair of restarts until the checkered flag.

Baumann shared the victory with Martin Konrad and Valentin Pierburg.

The Pro-Am title went to Sky-Tempesta Racing’s Chris Froggatt, whose AF Corse-supported Ferrari was looking set to take a race win until it was given a drive-through for a pit lane infringement.

Froggatt, Jonathan Hui and Rino Mastronardi still took fourth, behind the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3, which banked enough points for Froggatt to become champion.

RESULTS: 3H Barcelona (provisional)

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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