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Barcelona Saturday Notebook

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

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

***Juuso Puhakka won the final round of the inaugural Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series held in the Barcelona paddock on Saturday evening. The Finnish driver’s victory earned Madpanda Motorsport the teams’ championship. Puhakka beat Dries Vanthoor, who claimed Pro-class honors in the one-hour race, by 1.5 seconds for the win. Race / Pro Teams / Silver Teams

***The biggest scorer in the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series this year was Emil Frey Racing, which banked nine real-world championship points for its drivers’ sim racing exploits. Madpanda earned eight points in Silver, while WRT claimed six in each class.

***Matteo Cairoli was not at Barcelona on Saturday due to his participation in the NLS season finale at the Nürburgring. The Italian is driving for Dinamic Motorsport at both events. Cairoli and a couple of other Dinamic team members are due to arrive in Spain ready for qualifying on Sunday morning.

***Several teams are on double-duty this weekend, although Dinamic is the only one running GT3 cars at both Barcelona and the Nürburgring. GTWC Europe outfits Walkenhorst Motorsport, GetSpeed Performance, HRT, AF Corse and Winward Racing are at the Norisring for DTM.

***The No. 54 Dinamic Porsche stayed in a workshop near the Circuit de Catalunya between the Valencia Sprint Cup round and this weekend. Dinamic receives technical support from Spanish firm Monlau Competicion but it’s understood that the workshop belonged to a different company.

***The BMW M4 GT3 will make one further race outing this year at the 24 Hours of Sebring, according to the manufacturer’s head of motorsport Mike Krack. It will mark the car’s first competitive outing in the 24H Series which uses Hankook tires.

***Krack told Sportscar365 that the 24H Series rules regarding driver lineup composition means that BMW will deviate slightly from the all-factory crews that have driven the M4 GT3 in recent GTWC Europe and NLS events. “We have a very good relationship with our American partners and teams,” he said. “You will see an interesting lineup.”

***The BMW M4 GT3 racing at Barcelona is the same car that contested two recent NLS rounds. Krack said that one side of the vehicle can be expected to change its shade during the race. “Due to the aero, the fuel is pulled onto the white part of the bodywork, so it turns yellow,” he said. “We are like a chameleon!”

***The re-profiled Turn 10 corner is being experienced for the first time by several drivers in the GTWC Europe paddock. Some of them expressed concern that the faster turning speed will result in less overtaking during Sunday’s race.

***Asked about his impressions of the updated corner, Ferrari’s Nicklas Nielsen said: “It was pretty good. I like it but it was a bit of a shame that they took away one of the good overtaking opportunities. It’s going to be tough in the race to pass.”

***Track limits rules have been loosened at Turn 9 and Turn 15, where cars are allowed to exceed the white lines provided they remain within the adjacent green space.

***Mercedes-AMG’s Raffaele Marciello felt that some of the teams running cars from other brands were hiding their true potential in practice. “You see the Ferraris behind the Pro-Am cars, and yesterday they were quick but today not too much,” he told Sportscar365. “But I look to myself and today felt pretty good. Even if many cars like the Audis and the FFF Lamborghini will be quick tomorrow.”

***The No. 188 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 did not take part in Pre-Qualifying due to a damaged chassis. Team principal Andrew Kirkaldy told Sportscar365 that the damage was sustained in a crash at Valencia two weeks ago, but only manifested on Saturday during practice. The team is reverting to a spare for tomorrow’s race.

***Team WRT will join Garage 59 in conducting a shakedown lap tomorrow morning, after undergoing “significant repairs” due to an unspecified mechanical problem in Free Practice. The cause and extent of the issue are currently unclear.

***Several GTWC Europe Endurance Cup titles will be decided tomorrow, including the overall drivers’ and teams’ championships. Alessandro Pier Guidi, Nicklas Nielsen and Come Ledogar carry a 13-point lead over Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts into qualifying. Pier Guidi is aiming to become the first-ever back-to-back Endurance Cup champion.

***The closest award being contested is the overall teams’ title. Iron Lynx leads Team WRT by just eight points, with Orange1 FFF Racing Team a further 10 points behind.

***Alex Aka and his Attempto Racing co-drivers must win the Silver Cup race to deny a class title for Rolf Ineichen, Ricardo Feller and Alex Fontana who have won two races this season in their No. 14 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini and hold a 24-point cushion.

***Sky-Tempesta Ferrari driver Chris Froggatt leads the Pro-Am series by 18 points over FFF Racing Team’s Phil Keen and Hiroshi Hamaguchi. Jonathan Hui is actually second in the table, but can’t win the title because he is sharing a car with Froggatt.

***The 2022 GTWC Asia and Australia calendars are expected to be announced during Sunday’s SRO press conference hosted by Stephane Ratel. The Asian schedule is understood to consist of six rounds with races in Japan, China, Malaysia and Thailand.

***More cars joined the GT1 Sports Club paddock ahead of Monday’s ‘prologue’ organized by Curbstone Events. Two Lamborghini SCV12s, a Pagani Zonda Revolucion and a Ferrari LaFerrari FXX-K were among the additions to an exotic mix of track day machinery. 

***The first of three 15-minute qualifying sessions to determine tomorrow’s Endurance Cup race grid will get underway at 9 a.m. CEST (3 a.m. EST). The final round of the Endurance Cup season is due to start at 3 p.m. (9 a.m. EST).

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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