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GT World Challenge Europe

Nürburgring Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from round four of GTWC Europe Endurance Cup…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

***Orange 1 FFF Racing Team brought Lamborghini level with McLaren on six wins in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup competition. The two brands are tied for second in the manufacturer wins table behind Audi, BMW and Porsche on eight victories apiece.

***Lamborghini had a red-letter day as teams running Huracan GT3 Evos won in every category. This has only occurred once before in Endurance Cup, when Ferrari teams swept the 2013 Monza 3 Hours.

***Madpanda Motorsport’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo dropped from 17th at the checkered flag to 21st in the final classification due to a 10-second post-race time penalty. Team principal and driver Ezequiel Companc was deemed responsible for a collision with the No. 26 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo at Turn 1.

***View the final classification for the 3 Hours of the Nürburgring here.

***Dries Vanthoor has joined his brother Laurens as an overall GTWC Europe drivers’ champion after he and Charles Weerts finished sixth on Sunday alongside Kelvin van der Linde’s stand-in and 2015 champion Robin Frijns. The Belgian pair continued the trend of different drivers winning the Endurance and Sprint combined series since its launch in 2014. Timur Boguslavskiy was the 2020 champion.

***Vanthoor said the result would give him and Weerts a “boost” heading to Barcelona, where they have a chance to win the Endurance Cup in addition to their combined and Sprint Cup awards that are already in the bank. “It’s a great result, just shows what kind of a season we had and how good the work of the team is,” commented the Audi factory driver.

***Weerts and Vanthoor trail Alessandro Pier Guidi, Come Ledogar and Nicklas Nielsen by 13 points heading into the 3 Hours of Barcelona finale, which carries a maximum score of 26 points. Caldarelli, Mapelli and Bortolotti are a further four points back, having overtaken Marciello and Gounon for third in the table.

***Emil Frey Lamborghini trio Rolf Ineichen, Alex Fontana and Ricardo Feller took a huge stride towards the Endurance Silver Cup title with their second win of the year that puts them 24 points ahead of their nearest rivals from Madpanda Motorsport.

***In Pro-Am, eight points now separate Nürburgring runners-up Jonathan Hui and Chris Froggatt from Nürburgring winners Phil Keen and Hiroshi Hamaguchi.

***Both the No. 71 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 and the No. 34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 made mid-stint pit stops for fuel top-ups during the second FCY of the race in the final hour.

***The problems were similar for both cars. Alessio Rovera told Sportscar365 that Iron Lynx only managed to get half a tank of fuel in during its second stop, while Walkenhorst’s Nick Yelloly said his BMW needed “an extra 25 to 30 liters” in the tank after only running five laps after it second planned service. “The fuel rig wasn’t working properly,” the Brit told Sportscar365.

***Winward Racing’s Silver-class Mercedes-AMG took part in the race after failing to complete qualifying due to an accident at the start of Q2. Russell Ward and Mikael Grenier, who were without their usual co-driver Philip Ellis courtesy of a DTM clash, finished 10th in class and 24th overall. They were ordered to start from the back of the 43-car grid.

***Jules Gounon said that he “started to believe” AKKA-ASP could snatch victory away from FFF when two safety cars reduced the No. 63 Lamborghini’s substantial lead in the final hour. “I started to catch up to Mirko and then just couldn’t push anymore,” said Gounon, who like Bortolotti had new tires for the closing stages. “I was already at the maximum, but they just had a little bit more than us.”

***Team WRT’s Silver Cup Audis were running on newly homologated brakes at the Nürburgring, whereas the Pro-class No. 32 car remained on the type of brakes it had used all season.

***WRT co-sporting director Pierre Dieudonne said the homologation for the new brakes started on Sep. 1. The Belgian team gave its drivers the choice of which set they used: “I think Dries preferred the bite of the old brakes,” said Dieudonne. “In the future for sure we will have to use the new brakes, so it’s up to us to adapt. But here it came really suddenly.”

***Dinamic Motorsport’s No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R retired after contact with another car on the run through Turn 1 at the second restart. The car was showing notable left-front damage back in the paddock after Klaus Bachler parked up in the arena section.

***The Allied-Racing Porsche couldn’t reach the end due to a broken radiator hose, according to driver Julien Apotheloz.

***While several cars including all three Porsches from Dinamic, Allied and GPX Racing failed to finish, only one car was not officially classified due to the other retirees completing 70 percent of the distance before dropping out. The No. 87 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG was wheeled into its garage and parked after sustaining radiator damage in contact with the No. 159 Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

***AKKA-ASP driver Konstantin Tereschenko was called out as the responsible party in the incident, according to a stewards’ report. The Russian was reprimanded and given one behavior warning point for pushing Alex MacDowall wide just before Turn 1, causing the Aston to lose three positions.

***The other Garage 59 Aston Martin also encountered a setback, in the form of a drive-through penalty for the car still rising on its tracks while the fuel coupler was connected during its second and final pit stop. Jonny Adam, Chris Goodwin and Alexander West ended up ninth in Pro-Am and 31st outright.

***Grasser Racing Team’s Tim Zimmermann said he spun out after being “taken by surprise” at a car throwing up dust on the exit of the chicane. The No. 16 Lamborghini dominated the opening two hours of Silver Cup, while Zimmermann was on course for a podium when the incident happened: “The rear-end stepped out and I spun,” he said. “It all happened so very quickly and I’m sorry for the whole team to have ended the race this way. I would like to thank the entire crew for their unstinting work.”

***RAM Racing’s Fabian Schiller explained how he dropped from first to third in the closing stages to hand FFF its Pro-Am victory: “A Porsche had a technical issue into the [Schumacher S] and I caught it at such speed I could only take avoiding action, and once you’re on the gravel you’re a passenger.”

***The leading Audi and Ferrari Pro crews were left perplexed by the pace of Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche at the Nürburgring. Ferrari ace Alessandro Pier Guidi described the top three cars as being “on a different planet” to the challengers. 

“Historically in GT3 we have struggled here,” the Italian told Sportscar365. “But not this much. At the end, we minimized the loss.”

***Dieudonne, meanwhile, said that the pace “wasn’t really there” in the Audi camp. Asked why that might have been, he offered: “Just the little difference in the BoP, because the BoP was adapted for this circuit, and depending on the characteristics of the circuit, sometimes it makes a difference. But I think that’s a normal thing with the BoP, so nothing to complain about.”

***The same BoP adaptation that was used last weekend will also be rolled out at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, as another ‘Category C’ circuit according to SRO’s system.

***The next GTWC Europe round is the Sprint Cup season finale at Valencia Sep. 25-26. Endurance Cup follows the week after at Barcelona, which is set to round off a season for the fourth time.

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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