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GT World Challenge Europe

Barcelona Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook from the GTWC Europe paddock at Barcelona…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

***This weekend marks the fourth Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup round at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The Spanish Grand Prix venue was placed on the Sprint Cup schedule last year but has returned to stage the final round of the long-distance series.

***Endurance Cup headlines the sixth edition of the Festival de la Velocidad Legado Maria de Villota. The inclusion of fans for the racing festival means the Endurance Cup finale is operating to Phase 2 of SRO Motorsports Group’s sanitary protocol, which allows public access but not in the paddock.

***Mercedes-AMG teams have won two of the previous three Endurance Cup rounds at Barcelona. The German manufacturer’s last series win came at the track in 2018 with Black Falcon. AKKA-ASP prevailed in 2017, while Lamborghini squad FFF Racing Team claimed the 2019 title by winning last time out two years ago.

***Neither Daniel Juncadella nor Philip Ellis are at Barcelona, despite being named on the provisional entry list. Both are instead finishing off their DTM campaigns at the Norisring with Mercedes-AMG teams.

***Felipe Fraga is replacing Juncadella in the No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo alongside Jules Gounon and Raffaele Marciello, as was the case at the previous Endurance Cup round. The Winward Racing Silver Cup Mercedes that Ellis drives will be shared by Mikael Grenier and Russell Ward as a pairing.

***Paul Petit is absent from Toksport WRT’s Mercedes-AMG crew due to a knee problem. He has been replaced by GT4 European Series driver Berkay Besler from Turkey.

***Two paid test sessions and a Bronze driver test were held on Friday. Marco Mapelli topped in the first test for FFF Racing Team with a time of 1:45.221, while AKKA-ASP driver Gounon led the second run with a 1:46.705 effort. Miguel Ramos paced the evening Bronze test with a time of 1:47.804 on board the Sprint Cup Pro-Am title-winning Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.

***Dinamic Motorsport’s mechanics were busy on Friday evening performing an engine change on the No. 56 Porsche 911 GT3 R after it developed an issue in paid testing.

***The No. 54 Dinamic Porsche is running in a blue and white paint scheme, rather than its familiar green and white. The Italian team’s blue and white Porsche races in Sprint Cup, which held its season finale at the nearby Circuit Ricardo Tormo two weeks ago.

***SRO will hold its annual press conference on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. CEST. The press conference usually takes place at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa but was postponed this year due to the timings of the various announcements.

***Next year’s Fanatec GT2 European Series calendar is expected to be revealed shortly. It’s understood that one of the rounds could be on the support bill for ADAC GT Masters.

***Andrea Caldarelli says “no decision” has been made regarding FFF Racing Team’s plans for next year, with “a few things on the table” including programs in Europe, North America and Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli. “I think we are probably another month before we’re going to find out the final plans. But there are definitely multiple choices,” he said.

***FFF appears to be leaning toward a single full-season campaign in one series, dovetailed by additional outings in high-profile races. Caldarelli indicated that a second attempt at the Nürburgring 24 is “definitely something that we want to do” next year.

***The Endurance Cup field is driving on a slightly different version of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya compared to the last three-hour race at the site in 2019. The modified Turn 10 left-hander with a wider radius was introduced earlier this year.

***GPX Racing has sold its No. 23 Porsche 911 GT3 R, one of three Martini-liveried examples in the team’s possession. Team principal Pierre-Brice Mena told Sportscar365: “We really wanted to do something with the three cars, but because we changed our organization this year [to ART Grand Prix] we didn’t want to go too quickly. You need to have triple the people. There is a new one coming in 2023.”

***Sportscar365 understands that GPX and ART Grand Prix are set to continue their collaboration next year. ART replaced Spanish firm Monlau Competicion as GPX Racing’s technical partner after the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series.

***Jack Aitken is keeping his options open for next year and confirmed talks with Emil Frey Racing about a repeat program in GT3, although other options are being looked at by the Williams F1 reserve driver. “There are still a few different opportunities around, outside of just GT,” he said. “LMP2 is something that’s still on the radar and quite popular for drivers like me. And there’s stuff in America that could be on the table as well. We’re still at the stage where there’s a lot of talking.”

***The BMW M4 GT3 and the Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II will be considered invisible in the results this weekend, due to their Invitational entry status. This means they will not earn points, prize money or a place on the podium. Both cars are at Barcelona to gather Balance of Performance data ahead of their global race debuts next year.

***Le Mans winner and multiple GT3 champion Stephane Ortelli drove both cars on Friday, as part of the BoP process. Ortelli did the final 20 minutes of the first test session in the Audi and the final 20 minutes of the second test session in the BMW.

***A handful of Fanatec GT1 Sports Club cars assembled in the paddock on Friday, ahead of the non-competitive series’ first event on Monday. A West-liveried McLaren P1 GTR, a new-generation Porsche 935 and a McLaren 720S GT3X have been spotted so far. Ortelli will be driving a Porsche as part of his ambassadorial role with the German manufacturer.

***All cars except the CMR-prepared Bentley Continental GT3 have been given weight adjustments in the BoP for Barcelona. Since the Nürburgring there have been weight increases for the cars from Aston Martin (10 kg), Lamborghini (10 kg), Mercedes-AMG (10 kg) and McLaren (5 kg). On the other hand, decreases have been applied to the cars from Audi (15 kg), BMW (5 kg), Ferrari (10 kg) and Porsche (5 kg).

***RAM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG and the guesting No. 83 Iron Lynx Ferrari will run with an additional 20 kg to compensate for derogations in their driver lineups for Sam de Haan and Doriane Pin, both of whom have been adjusted from Silver to Bronze*.

***Saturday’s GTWC Europe track action consists of two 90-minute practice sessions. Free Practice starts at 9 a.m. local time (3 a.m. EST) while Pre-Qualifying gets underway at 1:40 p.m. (7:40 a.m. EST). There is also the final round of the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series at 6:20 p.m. where points for the real-world GTWC Europe combined teams’ championship will be earned.

***The entry list for the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series race can be found here.

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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