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GT World Challenge Europe

Monza Thursday Notebook

News and notes ahead of GTWC Europe Endurance Cup season-opener at Monza…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***The Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup returns to Monza this weekend after the Italian venue was scratched from last season’s calendar due to schedule changes prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. This event marks the championship’s tenth visit to the ‘Temple of Speed’.

***The No. 53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 is not taking part in the 3 Hours of Monza, with its drivers Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin instead engaged in the European Le Mans Series race at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. It means 43 cars are set to contest the Endurance Cup opener, rather than the 44 that appeared on the entry list.

***David Perel is teaming up with Griffin and Cameron at Barcelona, and will therefore be absent from Rinaldi Racing’s Silver Cup Ferrari crew. Patrick Kujala and Benjamin Hites will run as a pair in Silver Cup, with Perel joining for the rest of the season.

***Four hours of official testing took place on Thursday, involving 41 cars. Philip Ellis set the fastest lap of 1:47.479 aboard the Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.

***The Winward car ended up causing the last of five red flag periods. The first stoppage came in the first hour as the No. 30 WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo went off at Variante Ascari, leaving oil on the track. The second, and longest at 26 minutes, occurred just over an hour later when Kujala crashed in the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari at the same section. This was promptly followed by a stoppage for the Kessel Racing Ferrari, while a KTM X-Bow GT2 is understood to have been responsible for the penultimate red.

***German Racing great Hans-Joachim Stuck turned his first laps aboard the KTM on Thursday, as several GT2 cars joined part of the GTWC Europe test. Stuck is making his racing return in the Fanatec GT2 European Series.

***Several teams are splitting their resources between Monza and the ELMS 4 Hours of Barcelona. WRT, Iron Lynx, AF Corse, United Autosports and Villorba Corse are competing at both tracks across various categories and series.

***Additionally, GetSpeed Performance and Walkenhorst Motorsport are splitting their operations between Monza and the Nürburgring where the NLS is racing on Saturday. Both teams have downscaled their NLS programs this weekend.

***Optimum Motorsport has also been to two circuits this week, both in Italy. The team conducted a two-day test with a Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE Evo at Mugello on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Monza for the first of three Endurance Cup outings with its Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3.

***Ferrari is not currently planning for additional works-supported entries into the Total 24 Hours of Spa beyond Iron Lynx’s full-season setup, according to Competizione GT director Antonello Coletta: “At the moment, no,” he told Sportscar365. “We will have just two cars. If we have a new chance, why not? But in this moment, we have just two cars with Iron Lynx.”

***Alberto di Folco will join Grasser Racing Team’s Silver Cup crew for the 24 Hours of Spa. The Austrian squad has yet to name the drivers for its planned Pro entry.

***Several teams went testing between the official Paul Ricard test on March 25-26 and this weekend. Of note, a large group including Dinamic Motorsport, AKKA-ASP, Team WRT, Sainteloc Racing and Rinaldi Racing ran at Magny-Cours. Additionally, Emil Frey Racing pitched up at Spa with its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos on March 29-30.

***Ricky Collard is not driving Winward Racing’s Mercedes-AMG this weekend despite being shown on the provisional entry list. Collard’s inclusion on the list is understood to have been an error, with former Emil Frey driver Mikael Grenier joining Ellis and Russell Ward in the No. 57 entry. Collard tested for Winward at Paul Ricard and is due to drive RAM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG at Spa.

***Rik Breukers will partner Madpanda Motorsport team principal Ezequiel Companc in both Endurance and Sprint this season. The Dutchman piloted a WRT Audi last term and becomes the eighth different driver from eight different nationalies to race the No. 90 Mercedes-AMG.

***Madpanda has given away some of the wheels used during its 2020 combined Silver Cup teams’ title-winning campaign. After an initial giveaway to three fans in December, the team handed out two more last week. Each tire has a unique stamp designating its place in the run.

***GPX Racing’s new Martini Porsche livery will appear at every round of the Endurance Cup season, team principal Pierre-Brice Mena confirmed to Sportscar365.

***Other new car designs for the new season include pink BWT branding for the No. 4 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG, a Vaillant tribute on the Boutsen Ginion BMW M6 GT3 and gold coloration on both of the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMWs.

***Monza is active under Phase 1 of SRO’s protocol for events held during the coronavirus pandemic. Spectators are not allowed to attend, while GTWC Europe teams are limited to 15 personnel per car including drivers. The support series limit is 12 per car.

***The GT4 European Series also held a test on Thursday. Jim Pla set the pace, running over a second clear at the head of the field in his Mercedes-AMG GT4. Results

***A total of 46 cars are entered into the GT4 European Series opener. GTWC Europe outfits Sainteloc Racing, AKKA-ASP, CMR and Allied-Racing are among the participants. CMR is uniquely racing in the GT3, GT2 and GT4 series this weekend with four different manufacturers, although its ‘GT2’ entry is a guesting Ferrari Challenge car. It has a Bentley in Endurance Cup and Toyota and Alpine machinery in GT4.

***Despite being mentioned on the above entry list, the No. 79 AGS Events Aston Martin Vantage GT4 has been withdrawn.

***Friday’s only GTWC Europe track action will be a one-hour Bronze driver test starting at 4:25 p.m. (10:25 a.m. EST). As has been the case for previous Monza visits, practice and pre-qualifying are on Saturday followed by qualifying and the race on Sunday.

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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