Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts clinched the GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup drivers’ championship by finishing second in the final race of the season at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The WRT duo earned the overall title despite ending up behind the race-winning AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy, who was the only other driver in contention for the crown heading into the 60-minute encounter.
Vanthoor started from third on the grid behind pole-sitter Marciello and Kelvin van der Linde in WRT’s other Pro-class Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.
Van der Linde lost momentum when he was bumped from behind by Albert Costa’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, which enabled Vanthoor to climb up to second position.
Behind the leaders, HRT’s Maro Engel jinked out of line at the start, leading to a series of incidents in the mid-pack that culminated in Chris Froggatt’s Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 being pinballed into the left-side barriers on the front straight.
This required an early safety car period, while recently-crowned Pro-Am champion Froggatt was forced to retire, along with Engel and Sainteloc Racing’s Christopher Haase.
After the restart, Marciello controlled the opening stint before handing the AKKA-ASP Mercedes to Boguslavskiy who came out with a seven-second advantage over Weerts.
Weerts brought the gap down to two seconds in the remaining laps and couldn’t get close enough to mount a challenge for the win, but this didn’t matter as second place was enough to confirm him and Vanthoor as champions by four points.
WRT also wrapped up the teams’ title for the seventh time in eight years.
Third in the race went to Ricard Feller and Mikael Grenier, who also earned Silver Cup class honors in their Emil Frey Lamborghini.
Feller took over the car in fifth but hunted down his teammate Giacomo Altoe in the sister Huracan GT3 Evo before sweeping around the outside of van der Linde’s co-driver Ryuichiro Tomita at the Turn 8 right-hander to seize the final podium position.
Tomita kept ahead of Altoe to finish fourth, while Mattia Drudi and Tommaso Mosca came through in sixth for the Attempto Racing Audi squad.
Van der Linde and Tomita placed fourth in the final standings behind Marciello, who missed Zandvoort, and one place ahead of HRT’s Engel and Stolz.
Costa and Altoe – who won twice in a row at Zandvoort Race 2 and Barcelona Race 1 to become championship hopefuls – wound up sixth.
The Lamborghini pair also finished first on the road in Race 2 at Barcelona before a post-race penalty dropped them and the HRT Mercedes crew out of title contention.
Mosca finished less than a second ahead of Steven Palette, who along with Simon Gachet secured the Silver Cup championship with victory in Race 2 earlier on Sunday.
Tech 1 Racing’s Lexus RC F GT3, AKKA-ASP’s Silver-class Mercedes-AMG and CMR’s No. 108 Bentley Continental GT3 rounded out the overall top 10.
Pro-Am honors in the final race of the season went to AF Corse’s Andrea Bertolini and Louis Machiels, who finished second in the points to Froggatt and Eddie Cheever III.
Bertolini ran third behind the Mercedes-AMGs of Dominik Baumann and Phil Keen in the opening stint, while Machiels worked his way into the lead past Keen’s ERC Sport teammate Lee Mowle and Baumann’s driving partner Valentin Pierburg to claim the win.