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GT World Challenge Europe

Barcelona Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup title decider…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***AKKA-ASP became the first Mercedes-AMG team to win a Fantaec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup race in three years. The company’s last winner was Black Falcon at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in 2018. Mercedes-AMG teams have now won three of the four Endurance Cup races held at the venue.

***Felipe Fraga won the 3 Hours of Barcelona after forming part of AKKA-ASP’s Silver Cup crew when the French team prevailed in its class at the race two years ago.

***Its drivers won the Endurance Cup title, but Iron Lynx missed out on the Endurance Cup teams’ championship by one point to WRT. The Belgian squad claimed its first Endurance teams’ title since 2015 with a 91-point score. AKKA-ASP was third on 88 points.

***A major factor in WRT’s championship was the overall sixth-place finish for Silver Cup drivers Ryuichiro Tomita, Benjamin Goethe and James Pull at Monza.

***Emil Frey Racing was crowned the 2021 Silver Cup teams’ champion for the Endurance series, while Sky-Tempesta Racing earned the Pro-Am title. The overall GTWC Europe teams’ champions this year – combining results from Endurance and Sprint – are WRT, Emil Frey Racing and Barwell Motorsport.

***Christian Engelhart said that Dinamic Motorsport switched to an undercut strategy after tailing Callum Ilott’s Iron Lynx Ferrari in the opening stint. “I could have gone a lot quicker but could not use it,” Engelhart told Sportscar365. “We built our strategy around that and came in early, giving the car to Klaus [Bachler] who did a good job. With a good undercut, we managed to overtake the Ferrari and go to the front.”

***Several cars encountered punctures during Sunday’s race, including the No. 25 Sainteloc Racing Audi, the Silver Cup title-winning No. 14 Emil Frey Lamborghini, the Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes-AMG and the Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG which lost its lead due to the left-rear tire needing to be changed.

***The No. 35 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 retired due to a gearbox issue. It was a season finale to forget for the lead BMW team, which saw its No. 34 car driven by Jake Dennis, David Pittard and Nick Yelloly finish a lap down in 21st position.

***The other two retirements were the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG and the No. 188 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Both were caught up in incidents at the start of the race. RAM’s car ended up in the gravel after its driver Sam de Haan clipped one of the Rinaldi Racing Ferraris to bring out an early safety car. Shortly after the restart, Alexander West in the Aston Martin was hit by FFF Racing Team’s Hiroshi Hamaguchi at Turn 12.

***The only post-race sanction was a drive-through converted to a 35-second penalty for the No. 5 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG, which turned around the Allied Racing Porsche to bring out the second safety car of the race. View the final results here.

***ACO President Pierre Fillon and FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Frederic Lequien were special guests of SRO Motorsports Group and joined Stephane Ratel on the grid before the second GT4 European Series race. Ratel was a guest of the ACO at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***The date of next year’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS official test at Paul Ricard has been adjusted. The event will now take place on March 21-22, two weeks later than originally planned. It will immediately follow the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, which was confirmed as part of the 2022 Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli calendar announcement.

***The 2022 Endurance Cup opener at Monza is to be confirmed, with Ratel hinting that another circuit could replace the Italian Grand Prix venue on the calendar: “We are supposed to go to Monza, but we are also looking at another opportunity in Italy,” he said.

***Despite not revealing a full calendar, Ratel indicated SRO’s intentions for the 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS season during his annual press conference on Sunday. “Now we have a date for the Bathurst 12 Hour, the local GT series can be built around it,” he explained.

***The Bathurst date, however, is still subject to final confirmation. It also clashes with the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship rounds at Sebring, which is set to impact several people in the SRO paddock.

***Phillip Island, Bathurst, Sydney Motorsports Park and Sandown are the four confirmed circuits on the 2022 Australian calendar. Two further venues are to be announced.

***On the non-competitive side of SRO’s business model, the Total Look Rallye tour for classic cars is set to return next year. Ratel is giving potential participants the choice of different starting locations and themes including Rome (1960s), St. Tropez (1970s), Alps (1990s) and Vendome again (1980s).

***The GT1 Sports Club held its official ‘prologue’ event on Monday with 12 cars. Fans at Barcelona were treated to a preview of the new hypercar track day concept ahead of Sunday’s Endurance Cup race.

***A handful of teams including WRT, Madpanda Motorsport, GetSpeed Performance and AKKA-ASP have remained at Barcelona for a post-season test.

***The provisional calendar for a GT1 Sports Club ‘super season’ includes stops at Paul Ricard (June), Barcelona (October), the United States (March 2023), Europe (June 2023) and the UAE or Asia (December 2023). All events will be attached to GTWC rounds.

***The competitive side of SRO’s electric vehicle concept, the GT-X World Tour, is set to include “a number of different challenges” including circuit racing, hill climbs, rally stages and standing-start acceleration runs. “We want to provide competition, because it’s not only a tourist rally,” said Ratel. “The ultimate goal is customers: it is customer racing, but of course we need to start it with the manufacturers.”

***Sporting evolutions for GTWC Europe next year include the rollout of an ‘automatic’ track limits system that has been tested at several races this year, an overhaul of the driver categorization system and more real-world points for the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series. These will be explained further on Sportscar365.

***AKKA-ASP driver Jules Gounon hopes that there will also be changes to how backmarker traffic is regulated in Endurance Cup. Several Pro drivers have lamented being unable to lap cars that put up resistance at some of the rounds this year.

“The issue is that many drivers don’t respect the flags,” Gounon told Sportscar365. “SRO is always listening to a lot of the complaints and drivers to make it even more professional. I think there is something to be done on the blue flags, maybe making it on the display or penalties for the guys who don’t respect them.”

***Ratel also announced that the FIA GT World Cup is primed for the Macau Grand Prix weekend on Nov. 19-20 next year. After being announced in July, the 2021 edition was swiftly canceled for the second year in a row due to travel restrictions.

***A special race celebrating ’30 years of GT racing’ will be added to next year’s TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa support bill. It follows a similar concept to a ’15-years of GT3′ celebration that was due to take place at Monza this year before being canceled due to attendance limits at the circuit.

***All models that participated in the Venturi Trophy, BPR series, Lamborghini Supertrophy, FIA GT, FIA GT3, FIA GT1, British GT, French GT and Blancpain GT from 1992 to 2010 are eligible for the celebration race, which is being organized by Peter Auto.

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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