Connect with us

GT World Challenge Europe

Barcelona Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook after the Blancpain GT finale in Barcelona…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***By winning Sunday’s Blancpain GT Series finale at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli became the first drivers to win the overall Blancpain GT, Endurance Cup and GT World Challenge Europe titles in a single season. Laurens Vanthoor and Maxi Buhk have previously claimed all three championships but across multiple seasons.

***Caldarelli described Albert Costa’s daring dive for first on the run to Turn 1 as “funny and scary at the same time”. Costa was later forced to give back both positions gained on the Black Falcon and ROWE Racing cars as he completed the move off-track, alongside the pit wall.

***Caldarelli also explained that seeing Mapelli’s move on Stolz for lead led to an impressive celebration: “The only thing I can tell you about that is that I broke the physio chair!” he explained to Sportscar365. “I was [having] a massage before my stint and I saw the overtake, I was so excited I started to jump, shouted ‘Yes, yes yes!’ and then I fell down. That was my reaction on that.”

***Almost half of the race was spent under Full Course Yellow or safety car conditions with driving standards appearing to have been considerably lower than earlier in the season. A number of arguably avoidable crashes took place, halting the progress of the race.

***Dinamic Motorsport was set to use its current Blancpain GT Series chassis for its factory entry at the Kyalami 9 Hours, in what team manager Maurizio Lusuardi described as a one-off race, although it’s unclear what shape the car is in after Zaid Ashkanani’s opening-lap crash. The Italian team, which debuted in GT3 racing this year, currently doesn’t have any firm plans to expand its endurance race program in 2020.

***Ashkanani was tapped into the tire barriers on the back straight by Rinat Salikhov, causing the Monza-winning Porsche to roll onto its roof. A safety car period was called for over 45 minutes while lengthy repairs took place, which took longer than usual because the impact damaged the concrete wall behind the tire barrier.

***Sainteloc Racing’s No. 25 Audi, which was driven this weekend by Simon Gachet, Christopher Haase and Dorian Boccolacci, had completed every lap of the season until it dropped out of the race in the first hour with an apparent overheating issue. The retrieval of this car then extended the first safety car period.

***Neither Yelmer Buurman nor Dries Vanthoor were penalized for the late-race contact that took both drivers out of podium positions. The fact that this was the last race of the season appears to have played a part in the lack of action taken by the stewards in that instance.

***Esteban Muth was deemed at fault for causing the final safety car period which was called to retrieve Kim-Luis Schramm’s Phoenix Racing Audi from the gravel at the final corner. Muth, driving the Strakka Racing Mercedes, unsuccessfully tried to overtake the Audi in the chicane section.

***Maro Engel and Luca Stolz’s failure to score points after Buurman’s crash with Vanthoor gave Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli a 23-point lead in the overall drivers’ standings, combining results from the Endurance Cup and GT World Challenge Europe. Engel and Stolz held onto second, while Christian Engelhart and Mirko Bortolotti finished third despite not racing this weekend.

***Mapelli and Caldarelli won the Endurance Cup by just one point over Silverstone winners Miguel Molina, Davide Rigon and Mikhail Aleshin whose SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 had a race to forget. An early puncture was followed by a penalty for contact with Andy Soucek’s Bentley, meaning the AF Corse-run team finished outside of the points for the second consecutive race.

***Nico Bastian, Timur Boguslavskiy and Felipe Fraga won the Endurance Cup Silver Cup by a large margin of 142 points to 87, while Bastian swept all three Silver Cup titles, in combined, endurance and sprint formats. The German has now taken five Silver Cup titles in the past two seasons.

“It’s mega, but it’s only possible with good teammates and a good team behind me,” said Bastian. “I’m very proud. I’m also a triple champion this time and it’s been a pretty amazing season for me. A lot of wins, a lot of podiums and I hope for next season, maybe something more. Maybe in a Pro Cup car, I don’t know but for sure, now I just want to feel and enjoy this season and achievements this year.”

***Andrea Bertolini and Louis Machiels claimed the overall Pro-Am title by 2.5 points over Jim Pla despite their teammate Niek Hommerson ending up in the gravel early in the race after a battle with Pla that also sent the Frenchman to the garage.

***Oman Racing with TF Sport’s Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Ahmad Al Harthy claimed the Endurance Cup Pro-Am title after a difficult Endurance season for Bertolini and Machiels, who scored most of their points in GT World Challenge Europe competition.

“It’s amazing to have so many people fly in from Oman for the final round,” said Al Harthy. “I was very nervous to make sure the job was done and thankfully we did it in style.”

***Adrian Amstutz and Leo Machitski already claimed the Am Cup Endurance title at Spa in the Barwell Motorsport pairing’s last season together, following last week’s confirmation that Amstutz won’t continue in Blancpain GT full time next year.

***FFF won the overall teams’ championship by 28.5 points over Black Falcon, with AKKA ASP a further 12 points behind, while taking the Endurance Cup title by 17 points over SMP Racing.

***AKKA ASP claimed the Silver Cup teams’ titles in both Endurance and overall standings, while AF Corse is Pro-Am overall teams’ champion and TF Sport the Pro-Am Endurance teams’ champion. Barwell claimed the Endurance Cup Am teams’ honors.

***R-Motorsport team principal Dr Florian Kamelger described a surprise second-place finish as the team’s “second-best result of the year” after winning a GT World Challenge Europe race at the Nürburgring. It came after a difficult start to the event for Anglo-Swiss team, with Kamelger telling Sportscar365 earlier in the weekend that Aston Martin appeared to be the slowest manufacturer in the field.

***No update has been given regarding the future of the SRO’s relationship with Blancpain, with rumors suggesting that the title sponsorship deal could cease at the end of the year. The Blancpain logo is absent from most graphics and communication about the SRO’s 2020 plans. More information is expected at Las Vegas.

***At least two more brands could join the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli next year with Lamborghini almost certain and Aston Martin a distinct possibility, but Stephane Ratel has cautioned that two current manufacturers could also leave the globetrotting series, which currently has eight registered brands.

***Belgium won’t be present in the GT Cup in November’s FIA Motorsport Games, owing to Mike den Tandt’s recent reclassification to Silver status. Den Tandt and Charles Weerts were set to drive a WRT-run Audi in a similar program to Belgium’s entry in last year’s FIA GT Nations Cup in Bahrain.

***Bas Leinders will run Belgium’s other FIA Motorsport Games entries, which include entries in the Touring Car, Formula 4, Karting Slalom and Digital Cups. “It is an honor for me to extend the role I have held for more than 10 years with the RACB National Team,” he said. “I feel a real motivation in these young people, a desire to best represent our country in this international gathering.”

***Seventeen countries have now committed to the GT Cup: Australia, Belarus, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, USA and UK.

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

Click to comment

More in GT World Challenge Europe