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GT World Challenge Europe

Nürburgring Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday news and notes from the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup paddock…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***The 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS calendar is “ready” according to SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel. An announcement could come as early as Saturday, but Ratel noted that there are still “a couple of options” to discuss with the teams regarding circuit choices.

***Ratel hinted that next year’s schedule is unlikely to feature any major surprises. He outlined an objective to have all global GTWC calendars, plus the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, released by the end of the Endurance Cup season in October.

***Clear blue skies greeted teams at the Nürburgring, which is hosting an Endurance Cup race for the sixth time. The German venue returned to the long-distance series’ calendar in 2020 after three years as a standalone Sprint Cup fixture.

***Two hours of paid testing took place on Friday. The fastest lap time of 1:54.890 was set by Raffaele Marciello in the No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo during the morning run. Oscar Tunjo was quickest in the afternoon for fellow Mercedes-AMG squad Toksport WRT.

***The second session included a brief red flag interruption caused by the Boutsen Ginion BMW M6 GT3 stopping at Turn 3.

***A one-hour test for Bronze-rated drivers took place later in the afternoon. Jonathan Hui went quickest with a time of 1:56.007 on board the Sky-Tempesta Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020. An off-track moment for Kessel Racing Ferrari driver Francesco Zollo caused the session to be red-flagged part of the way through.

***Stephane Tribaudini has joined CMR’s Bentley lineup for this weekend and the season finale at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The Frenchman, who replaces Gilles Vannelet alongside Pierre Alexandre-Jean and Stuart White, won the Am Cup title driving for CMR last year.

***CMR has a Bentley Speed 8 in the back of its pit garage. The No. 7 car has stickers from the 2001 24 Hours of Le Mans when it was driven by Stephane Ortelli, Guy Smith and Martin Brundle.

***Joel Sturm has joined Allied-Racing in an adjusted three-driver lineup for the Porsche squad. Bastian Buus is back after joining the team for the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa. Their full-season co-driver Julian Apotheloz entered Monza and Paul Ricard with Jan Kasperlik and Nicolas Schoell.

***Adrian Amstutz is replacing Leo Machitski in the No. 77 Barwell Motorsport Pro-Am Lamborghini. David Perel and Patrick Kujala join Benjamin Hites at Rinaldi Racing after the Silver Cup Ferrari squad initially had Nico Varrone nominated alongside Hites.

***Three cars are racing with two-driver lineups this weekend. Two of them are AF Corse Pro-Am Ferraris, with Louis Machiels/Andrea Bertolini and Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin competing as pairings. Russell Ward and Mikael Grenier are a duo for Winward Racing in Silver Cup, with Philip Ellis engaged in the DTM at the Red Bull Ring. View the latest entry list here.

***Regarding the chances of avoiding future overlaps with the DTM, Ratel said: “We issue our calendar and if they clash, they clash. We’re certainly not going to change for the DTM. We created GT3 and if DTM think that it’s not good to clash with us then they will adjust, but they have already published their calendar.”

***Bertolini, Griffin and Grenier have been mandated to complete no more than 60 minutes in their cars during the race, leaving the remaining two-thirds up to their co-drivers.

***Driver rating adjustments, or derogations, have been imposed on three drivers in the Pro-Am category. Olivier Grotz (GetSpeed Performance) and Sam de Haan (RAM Racing) are Bronze* while Clemens Schmid (Grasser Racing Team) is Silver*. Of the three, only de Haan’s car has been given a 20 kg weight penalty.

***Callum Ilottt came straight to the Nürburgring from an IndyCar test on Thursday. The Iron Lynx Ferrari driver was preparing for his NTT IndyCar Series debut with Juncos Hollinger Racing at Portland next weekend. 

***Michele Beretta is the third different co-driver to HRT regulars Hubert Haupt and Patrick Assenheimer in as many three-driver races this season, after Ricardo Sanchez and Gabriele Piana did Monza and Paul Ricard respectively. Beretta also piloted the No. 5 Mercedes-AMG at Spa.

***SRO’s in-development GPS-based track limits system is being tested again this weekend, after cars ran with the ‘orange box’ technology at Spa and Brands Hatch. It is unclear when the detection system will start officially judging track limits breaches.

***An Audi RS3 LMS TCR is on display in the paddock following Audi Sport’s opening of customer orders earlier this week. TCR Europe is one of the support series to GTWC Europe. The model is lined up next to an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II which is racing for the first time this weekend in the 24 Hours of Barcelona

***SRO has rolled out its ‘Category C’ Balance of Performance setting that will be in effect for the Nürburgring and Barcelona. The minimum weights of all cars except the Bentley Continental GT3 and the McLaren 720s GT3 have been adjusted since Spa.

***The heaviest cars at the Nürburgring are the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo and the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo at 1325 kg. They have received 5 kg and 15 kg increases respectively since Spa.

***The penultimate round of the 2021 Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series takes place tomorrow in the paddock. Spa winner David Pittard will have 30 kg of success ballast applied to his Assetto Corsa Competizione-modeled Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, while Arthur Rougier (Emil Frey Racing) and Matt Campbell (GPX Racing) have 15 and 10 kg additions respectively.

***Saturday’s GTWC Europe track action begins with Free Practice at 8:30 a.m. Pre-Qualifying, which is also lasts 90 minutes, is due to take place at 12:55 p.m. (both CEST).

***The esports race, which carries real-world GTWC Europe teams’ championship points, gets underway at 6:45 p.m. (12:45 p.m. EST) with live streaming available on YouTube.

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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