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GT World Challenge Europe

Feller, Fontana Take Dominant Zandvoort Race 1 Victory

Emil Frey Racing’s Ricardo Feller, Alex Fontana win opening Sprint race at Zandvoort…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

Silver Cup pairing Ricardo Feller and Alex Fontana dominated the opening race of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS round at Zandvoort.

The Swiss Emil Frey Racing pair, driving for a Swiss team, never lost the lead in their No. 14 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo after Feller clinched pole on Saturday morning.

Feller maintained his advantage at the getaway, holding off front-row starter Ulysse de Pauw who slotted into second on board the No. 107 CMR Bentley Continental GT3.

The lead gap extended during the first stint, with Fontana inheriting a 10-second lead over Pierre-Alexandre Jean in the Bentley after the driver changes.

Clean air running and positional changes for the remaining podium spots enabled Fontana to control the rest of the race after Feller’s breakaway start.

Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy finished second in their No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo and were classified as the highest-placed Pro driver pairing.

Boguslavskiy was running seventh behind Frank Bird’s No. 31 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo in the early stages, but quick stops from both AKKA-ASP and WRT vaulted those entries to third and fourth after the pit window.

Marciello exited the pits right behind Ryuichiro Tomita and wasted no time in getting past the Japanese driver, before reaching Jean’s CMR Bentley and overtaking the Frenchman for second at Turn 12 with seven minutes remaining.

Although Marciello could do nothing about Fontana up the road, the Italian and Boguslavskiy maintained their status as championship hopefuls with a podium.

Jean finished third ahead of Tomita, completing the Silver Cup podium in the process, while Oscar Tunjo and Juuso Puhakka ran fifth in the No. 7 Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG.

The Silver Cup Mercedes-AMGs from Toksport and AKKA-ASP’s No. 87 crew enjoyed a race-long scrap that was decided when Tunjo forced Konstantin Tereschenko to out-brake himself into Turn 12 five and a half minutes from the checkered flag.

Tereschenko and Jim Pla settled for sixth, beating seventh-placed Maro Engel and Luca Stolz in the Pro-class Toksport entry.

Engel had an eventful second stint that started with the German driver looping on his out-lap before setting off in pursuit of Christopher Mies’ Attempto Racing Audi.

A fired-up Engel muscled past his fellow brand factory driver at the steep Hugenholtz left-hander and then put up a stern defense against the Audis containing championship leader Dries Vanthoor of WRT and Frederic Vervisch of Sainteloc Racing.

Mies would go on to finish tenth with his co-driver Jusuf Owega, behind Vanthoor and Vervisch.

Another member of that multi-car battle was the No. 163 Emil Frey Lamborghini which was forced to retire after Albert Costa picked up left-rear tire damage from slight contact with Mies at Turn 1.

Vanthoor and Charles Weerts provisionally maintained their Sprint Cup points lead despite finishing eighth.

The Belgian pairing came away from Race 1 with 31.5 points, while Feller moved into second on 29.5, ahead of Marciello and Boguslavskiy on 27.5.

Feller’s full-time co-driver Fontana increased his Silver Cup points lead from the opening round at Magny-Cours, where Feller was moved across to Emil Frey’s Pro car following a late change of lineup for that event.

Pro-Am honors in Race 1 went to Barwell Motorsport’s Henrique Chaves and Miguel Ramos, who finished 18th overall in their No. 77 Lamborghini.

Ramos started from pole but lost the class lead to AF Corse Ferrari driver Louis Machiels during the opening exchanges

After 14 minutes of racing, the Portuguese pilot swept around the outside of Machiels at Tarzan to seize an advantage that Barwell would hold until the end.

Machiels’ teammate Andrea Bertolini successfully defended from SPSP Automotive Performance’s Dominik Baumann in the second stint to secure second place. 

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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