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Toksport Merc Sweeps Valencia Weekend; Class Titles Decided

Engel, Stolz win both Sprint Cup finale races as Silver, Pro-Am class champions confirmed…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

Maro Engel and Luca Stolz won Race 2 at Valencia to sweep the final round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup season, as the Silver Cup and Pro-Am drivers’ titles were decided.

Engel and Stolz steered their pole-sitting Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo to a lights-to-flag victory in Sunday’s second 60-minute contest, a few hours after using an undercut strategy to win the morning race from second on the 27-car grid.

Further back in the field, Lamborghini drivers clinched the Silver Cup and Pro-Am championships. Those two accolades were up for grabs at Valencia after Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts wrapped up the overall Sprint title after round four at Brands Hatch.

Alex Fontana won the Silver Cup championship with a fourth-place class finish alongside Ricardo Feller in the No. 14 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Emil Frey Racing.

In Pro-Am, Miguel Ramos and Henrique Chaves added to their International GT Open title from last year by clinching Sprint Cup season honors for Barwell Motorsport.

Sunday’s second race got underway with Engel leading from the AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMGs driven by Jules Gounon and Jim Pla.

Christian Englehart broke up the Mercedes 1-2-3-4 starting order by getting his Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R ahead of Pro-Am pole-sitter Dominik Baumann.

The safety car was brought out on lap two due to an early incident involving four cars. A move from Vanthoor on Arthur Rougier resulted in the latter driver’s Emil Frey Lamborghini hitting and spinning Nelson Panciatici’s Bentley and Eddie Cheever’s Ferrari.

Engel controlled the restart after eight minutes on the race clock, but was unable to shake off Gounon who kept within a second of his fellow factory driver in the first stint.

Engelhart gained another place in his Dinamic Porsche with a smart move on Pla’s Silver-class Mercedes-AMG at the fast Turn 12 right-hand turn, followed by Emil Frey Racing’s Albert Costa also getting through to take fourth position.

Pla was the first driver to pit when the mid-race window opened on 25 minutes, as Engel continued to lead from Gounon, Engelhart and Costa.

Engel came in on lap 17, while Gounon pitted after the next tour. AKKA-ASP’s stop was one second quicker than Toksport’s, however Stolz was able to narrowly edge ahead of Petru Umbrarescu when the Romanian exited the pit lane.

Stolz went on to quickly build an unassailable advantage over the AKKA-ASP Mercedes that stood at just over 15 seconds when the German driver passed the checkered flag for his and Engel’s third consecutive Sprint Cup victory.

Umbrarescu’s attention was firmly fixed on the chasing cars behind, particularly the No. 163 Lamborghini which Costa had handed over to Norbert Siedler.

After moving ahead of the Dinamic Porsche during the pit cycle, Siedler put the pressure on Umbrarescu but came up just seven-tenths short at the line.

Adrien de Leener took over the Porsche from Engelhart and remained ahead of Konstantin Tereschenko in the AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG that Pla started.

However, the Belgian came under attack from Race 1 pole-sitter Ben Barnicoat, who had embarked on a second-stint charge after his JOTA McLaren co-driver Oliver Wilkinson made up a handful of positions from his 11th-place grid spot.

Barnicoat seized fourth with six minutes remaining when he charged past the Dinamic car on the run down to Turn 2.

De Leener and Engelhart still picked up their best result of the season in fifth, while Tereschenko and Pla won the Silver category in sixth overall.

Tereschenko resisted late pressure from Ezequiel Companc, who took second in Silver for Madpanda Motorsport, while Oscar Tunjo finished third in class for Toksport.

The Silver Cup championship scenario played out further down the order.

Fontana arrived into Race 2 with a 14.5-point edge over Team WRT’s Frank Bird and Ryuichiro Tomita, who needed to win if they were to reverse the deficit.

Instead, Feller’s second-half charge up to fourth, which included an overtake on Bird into the Turn 2 left-hander, secured the championship for Fontana by 17.5 points.

Feller and Fontana shared the No. 14 Emil Frey Lamborghini at all Sprint Cup rounds except the Magny-Cours opener where a crash during Pre-Qualifying for one of the team’s Pro cars resulted in a crew shuffle that saw Feller promoted to the No. 163 entry.

The top Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos in Race 2 were the Sainteloc Racing pair which finished ninth and 10th. Champions Vanthoor and Weerts endured an incident-packed weekend at Valencia in their No. 32 WRT Audi and failed to score points in both races.

SPS Automotive Performance won the final Pro-Am race of the year but it wasn’t enough to prevent Ramos and Chaves from securing the championship crown.

Dominik Baumann started from the second row of the grid with several cars between him and the other Pro-Am competitors. A clean stint from the Austrian gave Valentin Pierburg the tools to round off the No. 20 Mercedes-AMG’s second triumph of 2021.

Ramos and Chaves finished third, behind Garage 59 Aston Martin pair Alexander West and Jonny Adam who retired from Race 1 due to damage from a first-lap accident.

A fine overtake by Adam on Chaves at Turn 1 between the safety car restart and the pit window set up the class podium order.

Ramos, on his 50th birthday, and Chaves ended the season 8.5 points ahead of Baumann and Pierburg.

RESULTS: Valencia Race 2 (final)

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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