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GT World Challenge Europe

WRT Sweeps Misano Round as Weerts, Vanthoor Win Race 2

Charles Weerts, Dries Vanthoor win both GTWC Europe Sprint Cup races at Misano…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor extended their Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup points lead with a second victory in as many races at Misano.

The Team WRT pair added to their lights-to-flag win on Saturday by overcoming the Pro-Am and Silver Cup class cars that were in front of their Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo at the start of Sunday’s 60-minute encounter.

Vanthoor, who was the highest-qualifying Pro-category competitor, started from third on the grid behind pole-sitter Jonny Adam in the Pro-Am Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and Patrick Kujala in the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020.

The defending series champion overtook Kujala with a dive down the inside at the Quercia left-hander after 23 minutes. Despite running wide and briefly letting the door open, Vanthoor had the favorable line into the next right-hander to secure second place.

Adam led the opening stint and stayed out until the end of the pit window, but was always going to lose his overall position due to the 77-second minimum pit time for Pro-Am.

A quick 63-second service from the WRT mechanics sent Weerts out in the lead, while Adam’s co-driver Alexander West emerged just outside the top ten.

Weerts started out only a few car lengths ahead of Timur Boguslavskiy, whose No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo had jumped from fifth to second during the pit window after Raffaele Marciello’s work during the opening stint.

However, the gap stood at 11 seconds when Weerts crossed the line to earn his and Vanthoor’s third win of the season, and their fifth victory at Misano in seven races.

It capped a strong performance from WRT, which also banked third and fourth with its other two Audis.

Benjamin Goethe resisted the pressure from his teammate Frank Bird to secure his and Kelvin van der Linde’s first Sprint Cup podium of the year. 

After a late issue caused van der Linde to drop out of the points on Saturday, the South African qualified sixth for race two and held station through the opening half.

Goethe then picked up three positions as WRT made quicker stops than Garage 59, Rinaldi and the No. 114 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, which initially ran fourth with Jack Aitken at the helm.

WRT’s Silver Cup Audi started tenth in the hands of Ryuichiro Tomita, who took three positions on-track before gaining another three spots in the pits during the changeover to Bird.

Despite missing out on the overall podium to Goethe and van der Linde, Tomita and Bird still captured their first Silver Cup win of the season.

The pit shuffle saw Aitken’s co-driver Konsta Lappalainen emerge in sixth. However, Lappalainen gained a spot in the last 10 minutes when Luca Stolz’s Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG picked up a right-front puncture after a side-on touch whilst battling Bird.

Kujala’s co-driver Benjamin Hites exited the pits in seventh after a relatively slow 70-second stop from Rinaldi, but moved up to sixth when Stolz encountered his setback.

Jules Gounon and Petru Umbrarescu were seventh in AKKA-ASP’s No. 89 Mercedes.

Ben Barnicoat and Oliver Wilkinson finished eighth sharing JOTA’s McLaren 720S GT3, ahead of Toksport WRT’s Silver pairing of Juuso Puhakka and Oscar Tunjo.

Aurelien Panis and Frederic Vervisch completed the top ten in the No. 26 Sainteloc Racing Audi which took fourth in race one.

After losing its overall lead due to the minimum pit stop time requirement for Pro-Am, Garage 59 turned its attention to aclass battle that ended in dramatic fashion.

West had the benefit of several vehicles between himself and the second-placed car in class when he took over from Adam with 25 minutes remaining, but the Swedish driver came under intense pressure in the closing stages.

Valentin Pierburg challenged West for the win on the final lap and got his SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes-AMG alongside the Garage 59 Aston at the last corner.

The pair crossed the line just 0.001 seconds apart, with West narrowly getting the edge to claim his and Adam’s first win of the year, and Garage 59’s first in Sprint Pro-Am.

Pierburg shared second with Dominik Baumann, while Miguel Ramos and Henrique Chaves took third in Barwell Motorsport’s Lamborghini.

RESULTS: Misano Race 2

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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