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GT World Challenge Europe

Barcelona Weekend Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook ahead of the GTWC Europe Sprint Cup title-deciding round…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup is back at Barcelona for the first time since 2016, while this weekend’s season-closing event marks the second three-race meeting of the 2020 season after the Misano curtain-raiser.

***As was the case at Misano, the event consists of two Free Practice sessions leading into a Pre-Qualifying practice of equal length, following by three individual qualifying sessions for each of the races. Sainteloc Racing Audi driver Arthur Rougier was quickest across the Friday’s practice sessions with a time set during FP1.

***Ricardo Feller has replaced Norbert Siedler in Emil Frey Racing’s No. 14 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo. A team spokesperson confirmed to Sportscar365 that Siedler is missing this weekend’s round for health reasons.

***Feller’s most recent Sprint Cup drive came in 2018 when he ran the second half of the season in a Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo alongside Adrien de Leener.

***The Swiss driver’s inclusion has prompted Emil Frey Racing to move its No. 14 Lamborghini over to Silver Cup, bringing the number of Pro cars down to nine.

***Toksport WRT is only fielding one Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo this weekend. The German outfit’s No. 6 Silver Cup entry is not at Barcelona, despite appearing on the provisional entry list. The updated entry list shows a total of 21 cars.

***With three races to run at Barcelona there are 52.5 points to play for, leaving the Sprint Cup overall title race wide open. Six different crews have won the last six races out of seven held so far, while points leaders Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts are the only repeat victors of 2020 to date.

***Four sets of drivers are within 16.5 points, or one race victory, of the leading pair. These are Haupt Racing Team’s Maro Engel and Luca Stolz, AKKA-ASP’s Timur Boguslavskiy, WRT’s Kelvin van der Linde and Ryuichiro Tomita, and Sainteloc Racing’s Rougier and Christopher Haase.

***Vanthoor and Weerts missed Free Practice 1 as WRT prepared a new chassis following an accident during paid testing on Thursday.

***Heading into a crucial point of the campaign, Weerts said: “It’s a very important weekend for us, as we are leading in the standings by a tight margin. It will be very close, nothing is done, and we have to aim at keeping the first spot until the last race.”

***The Sprint Cup teams’ championship is set to be decided in a duel between WRT and Sainteloc. The two Audi squads are clear at the head of the standings, with WRT on 77 points and Sainteloc on 71. Points are scored by each team’s highest-finishing entry regardless of class.

***Vanthoor and Weerts have been the points-paying entry in all but one race for WRT. The only time the Belgian pairing was beaten by a fellow WRT crew was in Race 1 at Zandvoort, which was won by van der Linde and Tomita. A similar scenario has played out for Sainteloc, which has relied on Haase and Rougier’s finishes at all but two races so far this year.

***Sky-Tempesta Racing’s Eddie Cheever III and Chris Froggatt have a comfortable 29-point lead over Andrea Bertolini and Louis Machiels. A pole and a win for Sky-Tempesta in today’s race – earning a maximum score – would require Bertolini and Machiels to finish second in order to keep the title fight alive.

***The title battle in Silver Cup is slightly closer, although Steven Palette and Simon Gachet still have a substantial 19.5-point upper hand over Ezequiel Companc and Axcil Jefferies. Five different cars have won the last five Silver Cup races.

***A handful of drivers were fined for exceeding the 50 km/h pit lane speed limit during Free Practice. Timur Boguslavskiy and Jusuf Owega were handed €50 fines while Mikael Grenier picked up a €150 bill for breaching the limit by a bigger margin. Grenier’s Emil Frey Racing teammate Giacomo Altoe was caught speeding twice and given a behavior warning point as a result.

***The minimum pit stop time for the Pro-Am category this weekend is 61 seconds.

***This weekend’s timetable features Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe, Formula Renault Eurocup and TCR Europe on the GTWC Europe Sprint Cup support bill. All track action at the ‘Barcelona Speed Festival’ is taking place behind closed doors. 

***Live coverage of qualifying and all three races can be found on the GT World YouTube channel or the GTWC Europe website. There will also be a live stream of every session onboard Sainteloc Racing’s Silver Cup Audi, in a first for this season.

***Qualifying for Race 1 gets underway at 12:50 p.m. CEST (6:50 a.m. EST) ahead of the first rolling start at 5:15 p.m CEST (11:15 a.m. EST). Race 2 starts at 12:25 p.m. (6:25 a.m. EST) on Sunday afternoon, leading into Race 3 at 4:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. EST).

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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