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GT World Challenge Europe

Magny-Cours Weekend Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook from round two of GTWC Europe Sprint Cup at Magny-Cours…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***The entry for round two of GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup has gone back down to 23 cars after SPS Automotive Performance confirmed its No. 44 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo would not be making the trip to France.

***Instead SPS drivers Christian Hook and Manuel Lauck, who were shown as the only GT Sports Club competitors on the 24-car provisional entry list, will be taking part in the International GT Open races at the Red Bull Ring this weekend.

***There has been a change of driver in the No. 6 Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo. 20-year-old Mick Wishofer, who drives full-time for Zakspeed in ADAC GT Masters, replaces Kris Heidorn in the team alongside Robin Rogalski.

***Toksport is aiming to bounce back from a torrid GTWC Europe debut at Misano, in which neither of its cars contested the second and third races of the event after one was destroyed by a fire in practice and the other caught up in a first-lap accident in Race 1.

***Sprint Cup returns to its familiar two-race format this weekend after the Misano season-opener ran as a triple-header to account for the lower number of events being held this year. Both Magny-Cours and the next round at Zandvoort will be two-race affairs.

***A minimum pit stop time for the two 60-minute races has been set at 53 seconds for Pro-Am competitors

***Magny-Cours is being held under Phase 3 of SRO Motorsports Group’s COVID-19 protocol as an “event with public, limited access to the paddock”. This marks the first time that a 2020 GTWC Europe round has been held under anything other than Phase 1.

***No more than 5000 people can be on-site at any one time while GTWC Europe teams are limited to 15 people per car. Most teams are present with two-car programs.

***Spectator access is allowed, although only those with pre-purchased tickets can enter the facility.

***The weekend bill is a busy one, with a total of eight series including GTWC Europe taking to the track. There’s also the FFSA French GT Championship, FFSA French Formula 4, Formula Renault Eurocup, Renault Clio Cup, Porsche Carrera Cup France, Alpine Elf Europa Cup and Sprint Cup by Funyo-Sport Proto.

***FFSA GT general manager Laurent Gaudin has explained the reasons for the SRO-organized series introducing a new championship for cars based on the American TC platform next year. “This product perfectly matches the budget and maintenance level of the French market,” Gaudin told Endurance-info.

***AKKA-ASP, CMR and Sainteloc Racing are engaged in both GT3 and GT4 this weekend. The Sainteloc ground crew is made up of 25 people divided between the two series. Additionally, Aurelien Panis, Simon Gachet and Jim Pla are driving in both categories.

***Mercedes-AMG has been on-form so far this weekend, with cars from the German manufacturer going first and second in Free Practice and first, second and third in yesterday evening’s Pre-Qualifying session. However, the margins throughout the field have remained tight, with 16 cars lapping to within a second of the best time in Free Practice and 17 doing the same in Pre-Qualifying.

***CMR has sourced a new chassis for its No. 108 Bentley Continental GT3 after a fire destroyed the original car in paid testing. Hugo Chevalier, who was at the wheel, was unharmed. It’s understood that the team picked up a new Bentley from M-Sport at Calais on Friday.

***The team was allowed to do a ‘hardship lap’ with the replacement car this morning. An SRO technical report published at 9 a.m. confirmed that the car had passed its safety, homologation and Balance of Performance checks.

***The No. 93 Sky-Tempesta Racing Ferrari had its engine changed without penalty after the team encountered an issue during paid testing.

***The best time from testing was a 1:37.346 set by Frederic Vervisch in the No. 66 Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo. In second place was Charles Weerts in the No. 32 Team WRT Audi.

***While GTWC Europe Sprint Cup has never been to Magny-Cours before, the Endurance Cup part of the SRO-organized series visited the former French Grand Prix venue in 2011. On that occasion, Marc VDS won with a BMW Z4 GT3 driven by Maxime Martin, Bas Leinders and Markus Palttala.

***This weekend marks the first time that Sprint Cup has held a race in France for five years. The last time was at Nogaro in 2015.

***As usual, live coverage of the qualifying sessions and races can be found on the GT World YouTube channel. There is also a French-language stream covering all of the weekend’s track activities, including 10 races each day.

***Live timing is available on the GTWC Europe website, while SRO has produced a spotters guide for the 23-car GTWC Europe Sprint Cup field.

***Race 1 is due to get underway this evening at 10:15 p.m. local time (4:15 p.m. EST) while Race 2 is scheduled for Sunday at 1:50 p.m. (7:50 a.m. EST).

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report.

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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