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AKKA-ASP Monitoring Situation with Russian Drivers

Boguslavskiy, Tereschenko set to test with AKKA-ASP next week as team monitors situation…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

AKKA-ASP is monitoring the evolving situation surrounding its program with two Russian drivers, as motorsport governing bodies apply restrictions in opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Team principal Jerome Policand has described the FIA’s ruling that enables Russian and Belarusian individuals to race under a neutral flag as “encouraging” for AKKA-ASP’s planned entries in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS.

Russian competitors Timur Boguslavskiy and Konstantin Tereschenko are both signed to drive Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos run by the French outfit.

Russia’s ongoing military action in Ukraine has sparked waves of sanctions on Russian organizations as well as emergency measures from sporting federations.

In the days after the FIA’s announcement on Tuesday, the British and German national motorsport bodies banned Russian and Belarusian individuals from contesting races in their territories until further notice.

Both developments are potentially significant for AKKA-ASP’s program in GTWC Europe, which is due to visit Brands Hatch for a Sprint Cup round at the end of April and Hockenheim for a three-hour Endurance Cup race in September.

GTWC Europe organizer SRO Motorsports group has stated that it will adhere to rulings made by the FIA and national authorities with regards to driver licenses.

AKKA-ASP is moving ahead with its original GTWC Europe plans, with Boguslavskiy and Tereschenko both slated to take part in the official pre-season test at Paul Ricard on Monday and Tuesday. However, the team is watching the developing situation closely.

“The World Council made a good decision for us, because it’s allowed for Russian drivers to race,” Policand told Sportscar365.

“Tereschenko is in Europe. He was able to travel, no problem. Timur will fly today. The first step is to have them at Paul Ricard and then we will see what happens.

“I cannot imagine it could be worse now, in terms of restrictions, for them. The goal is to keep them in Europe until Imola. I hope it will work.

“I think [the FIA decision] is fair because racing drivers are young people, not paid by the country.

“They are there doing their own business and trying to reach sponsorship to drive in Europe. I think it’s fair. We will see. It is not very comfortable, to be honest, but it’s encouraging.”

A potential challenge for AKKA-ASP is the possibility for national federations to impose stricter measures than the FIA regarding the participation of Russian drivers.

Motorsport UK and the DMSB announced their bans on Russian and Belarusian-licensed drivers on Wednesday and Friday respectively.

The DMSB decision is relevant to Boguslavskiy and Tereschenko because they are both set to take part in the Endurance Cup season which includes a stop at Hockenheim.

The Motorsport UK decision is only expected to impact Boguslavskiy, who is the only member of the pair signed to compete in the Sprint Cup series.

It was reported yesterday that the 2020 GTWC Europe champion would, like Tereschenko, only appear in the Endurance Cup but the team has since clarified that its plan is for Boguslavskiy to do both championships.

Boguslavskiy’s return to the Endurance Cup after one year out could result in a two-car Pro class entry for AKKA-ASP, which fielded a single top-category Mercedes-AMG last year for factory drivers Jules Gounon, Raffaele Marciello and Daniel Juncadella.

“First the plan was to do Sprint and IGTC again [with Boguslavskiy],” Policand explained.

“IGTC was strong in terms of results but difficult with logistics, so the goal was to do both [GTWC] championships like he did two years ago.

“Brands Hatch is in two months, so maybe the UK will change their mind. Hopefully the war finishes before May so maybe they can change their minds, but I don’t know the situation.

“What I hope is that the Belgian and French federations will not follow the UK.

“We need to know it in a short time, because I did not look for substitutes for Timur and Konstantin. It would have been completely unfair.”

Responding to the recent news that the DMSB has joined Motorsport UK in banning Russian competitors, Policand said: “I have to check if it changes anything.

“We have planned a test day at Hockenheim. It is interesting to know if there is a problem for Hockenheim for the test.

“For the season, it is very much like Brands Hatch. What can we say about September or even the beginning of May? I hope that France and Italy do not change their minds.

“But it’s just a matter of following the rules. I will not go against the rules. If a Russian driver cannot drive in a country, what can we do? I think we have to wait.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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