***Emil Frey Racing took an early lead in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS overall teams’ standings after its driver Arthur Rougier prevailed in the inaugural Fanatec Esports GT Series race held in the paddock this evening. Results
***Rougier beat Daniel Juncadella in an entertaining duel for the win, which culminated with the Emil Frey Lamborghini driver out-braking his counterpart’s AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 on the run down to the first chicane with 15 minutes to go.
***Nicklas Nielsen, who finished third for Iron Lynx, prepared for the esports race with a session in the Ferrari Driver Academy simulator at Maranello earlier this week.
***Silver Cup honors went to Ryuichiro Tomita in a Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3, from Madpanda Motorsport’s Ezequiel Companc and Rinaldi Racing’s Benjamin Hites. These drivers achieved points scores from three to one for the GTWC Europe Silver Cup teams’ championship, mirroring the Pro competitors.
***Allied-Racing has withdrawn its Porsche 911 GT3 R from the 3 Hours of Monza following Jan Kasperlik’s accident during Pre-Qualifying. “With the GT3 R it’s quite difficult to get a spare car [for the race],” Kasperlik told Sportscar365. “We will go to the workshop and exchange the chassis. We have Sprint Cup at Magny-Cours in three weeks and the car will for sure be ready.”
***The withdrawal of the Allied Porsche brings the number of cars for tomorrow’s race down to 42, and the number of Pro-Am competitors down to a dozen.
***The No. 159 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 entry from Garage 59 will serve a three-place grid drop on its qualifying result due to an infringement in Pre-Qualifying. Valentin Hasse-Clot was adjudged to have improved his second sector time whilst yellow flags were being waved in that section of the track.
***Several teams were given official reprimands from the stewards for missing the official pre-season test at Paul Ricard last month. The competitors argued a “degree of mitigation” for their absence due to the three-week postponement of the test which infringed on an NLS race and other independent private testing commitments.
***Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann is at Monza to follow the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe races and meet customer drivers and teams. Winkelmann re-joined Lamborghini on December 1, succeeding current Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali in the leading management role.
***Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring winner Tristan Vautier was also spotted in the paddock, supporting the AKKA-ASP team he has previously represented in several GT3 series.
***The Emil Frey Lamborghini of Rougier, Jack Aitken and Konsta Lappalainen suffered a braking problem during Pre-Qualifying that led to “significant repairs”, according to an incident report filing. The car underwent a single ‘hardship lap’ shakedown after this evening’s GT4 European Series race.
***GPX Racing’s Martini deal came about following the end of the team’s partnership with Gulf. Team principal Pierre-Brice Mena explained that his group pitched the idea to Martini last month. “We noticed that it was 50 years since they won their first 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche. They liked the concept and the idea. We presented it to the right people and it’s ended up like this.”
***GPX is also settling into its new French home at ART Grand Prix. It has two Porsches at the facility, and one due to arrive on Monday as part of a delayed shipment back from the Asian Le Mans Series caused by the Suez Canal cargo ship blockage. “We still need to work because everything is new for everybody,” said Brice-Mena. “There are some things where we need to start from zero a little bit. But we’re happy with this and we have a long-term vision.”
***KTM expects to have five or six GT2 cars on the grid for the next Fanatec GT2 European Series round at Hockenheim. Sportscar365 understands that the Austrian company has produced around a dozen GT2 versions of its new X-Bow racer.
***Audi Sport has three engineers on-site assisting GTWC Europe teams, in addition to single engineers supporting its GT2 and GT4 entries. Head of customer racing Chris Reinke explained that this number is higher than usual for an SRO event, but typical for this stage of the season. “It depends on how many cars we run, but three engineers on-site is the absolute max,” he said. “We try to cover fully up at the beginning of the season and then scale according to demand.”
***Jonathan Hui is set to return to Sky-Tempesta Racing’s Pro-Am Ferrari lineup for the Endurance Cup rounds after Monza, with Steffen Goerig filling in this weekend. It’s understood that travel difficulties between Hong Kong and Europe, where Hui is based, prevented the Bronze-rated driver from attending the season-opener.
***JOTA’s new green, white and red McLaren livery will “eventually make its way” onto the team’s No. 28 Oreca 07 Gibson in the FIA World Endurance Championship, according to team co-founder Sam Hignett. He said that JOTA chose to come up with a new shade of green after the original LMP2 dark green that ran in the Asian Le Mans Series, as part of Sean Gelael’s KFC backing, “came out black in photos”. The GTWC livery is seen as a trial for an LMP2 application in the future.
***Get acquainted with all of the new liveries in action at Monza and throughout this season with the official GTWC Europe spotter guide.
***The minimum refueling time for the two ‘mandatory’ full-service pit stops during Sunday’s race has been increased from 40 seconds to 42 seconds, according to an update from the stewards. A one-second tolerance may be used on one occasion.
***Qualifying for round one of the 2021 GTWC Europe Endurance Cup takes place at 9 a.m. (3 a.m. EST). The race is due to start at 3 p.m. (9 a.m. EST).
***Live coverage with commentary from the familiar voices of David Addison and John Watson will be available on GTWC Europe’s website and social media channels.
Laurent Mercier contributed to this report.