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GT World Challenge Europe

Brands Hatch Weekend Notebook

Daniel Lloyd’s weekend notebook from the GTWC Europe Sprint Cup opener at Brands Hatch…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***Brands Hatch is hosting the opening round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup for the first time since 2019. This weekend marks the eighth Sprint Cup meeting held at the 2.4-mile circuit in south-east England.

***Audi is the most successful manufacturer at the Brands Hatch Sprint Cup fixture with six race victories earned by Team WRT since 2014. Mercedes-AMG and Lamborghini are the other manufacturers to have previously won at the venue, with four victories each.

***There was a strong Saturday attendance at a verdant Brands Hatch for practice and qualifying, which took place under clear blue skies on a Bank Holiday weekend. There is great fan interest in Valentino Rossi, with crowds gathering around the WRT hospitality unit outside Paddock Hill Bend. GTWC Europe Sprint Cup gives the UK its only international sports car racing this year.

***SRO founder and CEO Stephane Ratel says that Brands Hatch is “here to stay” on the GTWC Europe Sprint Cup calendar. “I have to ask [MSV chief executive] Jonathan Palmer, but we want to continue and stay here,” Ratel told Sportscar365. “It is our only remaining international race in the UK, so it’s important.”

***Ben Barker did all of the driving for Barwell Motorsport on Saturday, with Alex Malykhin absent from the track due to illness. Malykhin missed Q1 and will therefore start the first race from the back of the grid, if he feels well enough to compete.

***The Sky-Tempesta Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo is in the Silver Cup class, after appearing as TBA on the provisional entry list. SRO has approved a derogation for driver Eddie Cheever, who is Gold-rated by the FIA but will race as a Silver* this weekend. There has been no penalty of additional weight or similar to offset the adjustment.

***Cheever told Sportscar365 that the No. 93 Mercedes-AMG experienced a throttle issue that limited its Saturday running. “It was a problem with the throttle not responding,” said the Italian. “It was just not giving me any power.” There were also braking issues for the No. 111 JP Motorsport McLaren and a power steering problem for the No. 26 Sainteloc Audi.

***Barwell Motorsport is not due to contest the full Sprint Cup season with its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, however Sportscar365 understands that the British squad is considering a return outing at the Valencia season finale in September.

***It means that GSM Novamarine is the only full-time Lamborghini entrant in Sprint Cup this year. The Italian squad is known in two-wheel circles for its entries in the FIM Endurance World Championship.

***It is unclear if the No. 56 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R will continue to run in the Pro class at the other Sprint Cup rounds. It was originally due to race in Silver, with Alessandro Giardelli partnering Giorgio Roda. A team representative confirmed that Dinamic split with Giardelli ahead of the season. He was replaced by Marius Nakken for the Endurance Cup opener at Imola, while Austrian ace Klaus Bachler has been drafted in for Brands, bumping the No. 56 to Pro this weekend.

***WRT’s No. 31 Audi is not entered because the Belgian squad “could not reach agreement” for a co-driver to partner Finlay Hutchison, according to team principal Vincent Vosse. Hutchison remains part of the No. 31 Endurance Cup crew. “It was better to concentrate on four cars,” Vosse told Sportscar365. “If this fifth car is coming at one stage, we will run it in the right way.”

***The minimum pit stop time for the Pro-Am class is the same as it was last year: 57 seconds with a one-second tolerance allowed.

***There is no Gold Cup class at Brands Hatch, although the category is deemed possible for Sprint Cup if enough entries commit from the Endurance series. A Gold entry in Sprint would consist of Pro/Silver rather than the Endurance Cup’s Pro/Silver/Bronze combination. There are eight Pro/Silver lineups at Brands, but none of them compete as Gold in Endurance.

***Brands Hatch has undergone resurfacing on a number of track surfaces in what the circuit has labeled “the most significant relaying of asphalt at the venue in 12 years.” The developments, which have been planned for six months, include a major renewal of the surface at Paddock Hill Bend.

***Circuit manager Mike Lally said: “We want to ensure that Brands Hatch continues to offer all participants a first-class on-circuit experience and that this major resurfacing work underlines that commitment. Indeed, this has been one of the most significant venue improvements we’ve made in the past decade. This, following another extensive winter improvement program, ensures that the circuit is in the best possible shape ahead of a very busy summer headline event schedule, starting from [the] GT World Challenge event.”

***The resurfacing has contributed to substantially quicker GT3 lap times compared to last year, and a new record of 1:21.370. Raffaele Marciello was the fastest-qualifying driver in 2021 and today, but his best laps between the two meetings differed by 2.29 seconds.

***Timur Boguslavskiy missed Friday’s driver briefing due to being held up at Heathrow airport by the UK Border Force. The Akkodis ASP Team driver is competing under the neutral FIA banner due to his Russian nationality being restricted by the global motorsport governing body, in light of the Ukraine conflict. SRO did not sanction his absence from the briefing, citing force majeure.

***Russian cosmetics company NEFIS, which has been Boguslavskiy’s primary backer in GT racing, no longer appears on the No. 89 Mercedes-AMG. The largest sticker on the car is now that of MSM Group, which manages Boguslavskiy’s career.

***ASP boss Jerome Policand said that Boguslavskiy is set to complete the Sprint season, after the driver and team combined to seek new sponsorship to ensure the 22-year-old could race. “He signed the FIA waiver so, as soon as you sign and acknowledge what they ask, it’s no problem,” Policand told Sportscar365. “The main problems were more logistics and sponsorship. We had to find another solution, with his management company. They are dealing with many drivers and sponsorships.”

***Russian-born Boguslavskiy and Malykhin from Belarus are able to race in GTWC Europe despite some national governing bodies such as Motorsport UK and the DMSB banning Russians and Belarusians from competition. GTWC Europe events are international and therefore the FIA rule of applying a neutral nationality overrides stricter national measures.

***ASP purchased two new AMG GT3 Evos in the off-season, one to replace a chassis that was damaged in a testing accident at Misano. The No. 88 and the No. 87 are both new. Additionally, No. 86 is the car that won the Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour in February. It only arrived back in Europe from South Africa in early April.

***Sportscar365 understands that Mercedes-AMG is set to lend one of its DTM drivers to sub for Jules Gounon at ASP for the Magny-Cours Sprint round. Gounon has been drafted into SunEnergy1 Racing’s lineup for the clashing Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

***Dries Vanthoor expects “good competition” from the pairings seeking to end his and Charles Weerts’ Sprint Cup reign. “I think there are stronger lineups [than last year],” the two-time champion told Sportscar365. “Everybody has got at least one strong lineup.”

***SRO boss Ratel intends to contest the remaining Fanatec GT2 European Series rounds in his Audi R8 LMS GT2 after missing the season-opener at Imola. One result can be discarded from an entry’s points for the season.

***There are several GT3 cars running on the Brands Hatch support bill in the GT Cup series including Mercedes-AMGs, McLarens and Lamborghinis.

***There will be an autograph session on Sunday morning from 9:05 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. A drivers’ parade is scheduled to take place before the second race of the weekend.

***The 2022 GTWC Europe Sprint Cup season-opener is due to start at 11:25 a.m. (6:25 a.m. ET) on Sunday morning. Race 2 is set for 4:45 p.m. (11:45 a.m ET).

***As part of SRO Motorsports Group’s deal with Sky, both 60-minute encounters will be available live on Sky Sports F1 to British viewers, while the German and Italian arms of the broadcaster are also showing Sunday’s action. As usual, David Addison and John Watson form the English commentary duo. Live coverage on the GT World YouTube channel has multiple language options.

Davey Euwema contributed to this report

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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